Embarking on postgraduate study may seem daunting, but planning ahead of time can help reduce nerves and ensure a smooth transition.  

MA Creative Writing student Charley Gordon-Boyle is here to provide her top tips in preparing for postgraduate study.  

1. Understand ‘why?’

There are numerous reasons you may wish to begin a Masters degree. Maybe you want to expand upon what you learned at undergraduate level. Maybe you want to benefit your career, or maybe you want to explore a certain subject more extensively. Whatever the reason, a Masters degree offers a whole host of opportunities to explore.  

Choosing what to study can be worrying though. For many, myself included, we want to study something we enjoy while studying something that will further our career, as those tuition fees aren’t cheap. In my experience, you can choose a course that caters to both goals.  

I chose to study Creative Writing at UoB specifically because the course focuses heavily on how to break into the publishing industry and offers numerous opportunities for networking and other career-related events. After leaving my undergraduate degree and entering the workforce, I found that employers were more drawn to those who show passion for their degrees and have developed specific skills from them, rather than those who study a certain subject. It pays to stand out. 

2. Learn to manage the workload

Transitioning to postgraduate study has meant I have fewer contact hours now on campus, so there is a lot of self-directed study. However, as a higher-level degree, a Masters has a more extensive workload and more challenging assessments, so making sure I get enough work done day-to-day is essential. I find that timetabling helps me cover all my commitments, so I can attend lectures and fit in enough self-directed study to make sure I have understood the material. Breaking down the tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks makes them significantly less daunting. 

3. Manage your finance

I funded my undergraduate degree through a loan from Student Finance England. Similarly, I pay my tuition fees at postgraduate level with an SFE loan. Yet, for me, the biggest difference is I no longer receive a maintenance loan. Most of my essential bills are covered by me.

Although fitting in part-time work around my studies seemed daunting at first, I found that many employers in the city offer part-time jobs catered to students. This allows me to work on the weekends while dedicating my weekdays to studying and switches up my timetable, so I don’t spend all my time on campus.  

4. Join a society

There are many societies that are dedicated to postgraduates, or you can join in with general societies too. I find that societies as a postgraduate are a great environment to meet people with like-minded career goals. As a creative student, I got involved in various media groups, so I’ve made new, creative friends. Currently, I enjoy making my radio show, and the commitment to extra-curricular activity looks impressive on my CV.   


My top tips for ensuring a smooth transition between undergraduate and postgraduate study are:  

  1. Understand the meaning behind the move to postgraduate study and how it may differ from undergraduate level.
  2. Learn how to manage the differing workload and work in a way that suits you.
  3. Gain part-time work experience to enhance your employability and help manage your bills.
  4. Sign up for societies that reflect your interests. You can meet like-minded people within activities you already enjoy.

Interested in postgraduate study? Sign up to our next Open Day!