1 Master’s-level study and how it differs from undergraduate study
Let’s begin with a short reflective exercise. Pause to consider, based on your prior knowledge and experience, how studying for a postgraduate course may differ from undergraduate study (i.e. your first degree).
Activity 1 Checking your expectations
- What are your expectations about postgraduate study, and what this may involve?
- What do you suppose are key differences between postgraduate and undergraduate study?
You may wish to structure your thoughts and jot these down. We will return to these questions shortly.
You may have noted down some of the following as key differences:
- level of proficiency and specialist knowledge
- career focus and relevance
- independent or self-directed study requirements
- demands on the student (time, organisation, motivation, commitment etc.)
- learning style and course materials
- depth of inquiry, scholarship and communication
- organisation and assessment of coursework
- study environment
- student cohort, peer and tutor interaction
- study intensity and workload.
In the following two videos you will hear from two students, Nick and Rachel, on their perspectives.
How well did these perspectives match your own thoughts on the key differences? You may have identified some (or possibly all!) of these points in your own notes. Somewhere along the line, we hope that you picked up on the nature of the first activity, namely the focus on ‘reflection’, as being important to postgraduate study. Taking the time to reflect on key issues and questions, revisiting and reflecting on your evaluation and appraisal (based on your prior knowledge and experience), and recognising that you will continue to develop this ability, and further your knowledge and understanding as you make progress with your studies, feature prominently at this level. You will already have begun to cultivate these skills. Reflection and reflective analysis will become progressively vital to succeeding at postgraduate level, as you continue in your academic pursuits, in your professional practice, and beyond these, as part of your lifelong skills. We will examine reflective thinking in more detail in Session 2, and consider its application (reflective practice) later on in the course (Session 7). For now, let’s take a closer look at some of the key differences between postgraduate and undergraduate study.