Like myself, many students come to the end of their undergraduate degree and need to decide on their next steps. If you’re considering a postgraduate course but unsure what to expect, read on for my take on how to approach postgraduate study and how it differs from the undergraduate world.
You will already know from your undergraduate degree how self-motivated you need to be when studying at university. This is even truer for postgraduate study, and will be what gets me through the course.
I find that no one is pestering me like they used to, to ensure I have read that chapter in the module handbook ready for the lecture. Or chasing me if I have not done the mini task set the previous week. No. But I have asked myself many times what if? What if I don’t read Jim Blyth’s theories on SWOT and PESTLE analyses? What if I don’t complete this practice copyediting test? I know I would not have gained the most I could from my lectures.
What the heck is flipped learning?
You really need to know your stuff at postgraduate level, and I always gained more from my lectures and seminars the more I prepared. My course director Alistair Hodge introduced me to the concept of ‘flipped learning’. He advised pre-reading around a topic of discussion and coming into the lecture ready to discuss/debate/analyse. This allowed for my opinions and conclusions to be changed; to be flipped by greater understanding. This is a great approach which I would advise anyone studying at postgraduate level to adopt.
Develop your independence
Do not expect your lecturers to give you all the information you need to gain those high-level merit or distinction passes. I look at my lectures as guides. They have introduced me to new areas within the subject, given me the basics. Then it is all up to me.
For example, one of our assignments gave us a lot of freedom. The brief stated: ‘1,000 word report, fully referenced, on a topic of history, culture, commerce or law related to book publishing’. Now, it is possible I could pick a topic that my lecturer did not have any specific in-depth knowledge of. At postgraduate level the line is blurred between tutor and student. I feel it is more mutual give and take and that the tutors and I are learning from each other.
I cannot stress enough, you cannot and will not get by with just the handouts your lecturers give to you. It is up to you to delve further, to put the work in, to be independent.
Postgraduate study can be daunting, but if you can be self-motivated, prepared and independent, I assure you, all the hard work will pay off.