Moving from UG to PG
by Dan Miller
Hi, I’m Dan. I study Criminology at Lancaster University. After completing my undergraduate degree in Criminology (BA), I am currently doing postgraduate study in Criminology and Social Research Methods (MSc). In this blog, I talk about the move from undergraduate to postgraduate study.
I chose to do postgraduate study – an MSc in Criminology and Social Research Methods – for various reasons. It’s a bit of a cliché, but I’ve always enjoyed learning – particularly all things crime! I wasn’t initially planning to do anything beyond undergraduate, but a couple of lecturers brought it to my attention.
My first impressions of my postgraduate degree were that it is, in many ways, relatively like my undergraduate degree. For example, the support that I really value is always there. This includes academic support, pastoral support, and careers support. As a student with disabilities, support is something that’s very important to me – in fact, I mention academic and pastoral support in my reflections from my undergraduate criminology course, and consider careers in criminology.
However, there are also some differences from undergraduate. Although the support is there, you are granted more independence. For example, although there was always the option to choose your own essay question, most of the work I did at undergraduate (other than things such as my final report) involved choosing essay titles from a set list. As such, undergraduate lectures provided more guidance about essays, from content to suggested reading. Choosing your own essays questions, which is standard practice at postgraduate level, is surprisingly tricky – though it does allow you to focus on what you really want to do!
Another difference is cohort sizes. Unsurprisingly, less people do postgraduate study in comparison to undergraduate study. As such, in lectures, seminars, workshops, and so on, there are less of us. I quite like being part of a smaller cohort, as it means we’re able to take a bit more time to get into in-depth discussions.
Perhaps the most obvious difference – and one of my biggest worries at the time – is the quality and quantity of work expected. Obviously, there is a higher standard at postgraduate – but providing you put in the work in undergraduate, the step up isn’t as big as you’d expect! My essays were around 3,500 words in the second and third year of my undergraduate degree. But as a postgraduate student, they’re around 5,000. Despite being a bit intimidating at first, I think this length is better – even now, it often feels like there are never enough words to say what you want to say!
Moving into postgraduate, the biggest difference – and the biggest challenge – is balancing university work with other commitments. Managing my work-life balance feels different as a postgraduate student than as an undergraduate. Balancing university work with other commitments, such as a part-time job, was always something I wasn’t great at, but because undergraduate involved more teaching hours, there was a lot more structure to it. I’ve got a lot better at finding a balance though. I’d really recommend looking at part-time work in Lancaster article written by Tom, one of our other Digital Content Ambassadors, for information about part-time work in Lancaster.
Moving from undergraduate to postgraduate study isn’t always smooth sailing. But that’s ok. If you enjoyed studying at undergraduate, you’ll love it even more at postgraduate – and the support is there if you need it!
Dan is studying MSc Criminology and Social Research Methods at Lancaster University.
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