Library & Student Services

From Graduate to Postgraduate

Thinking about postgraduate study? A Level 7 qualification (Master’s degree, Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma) can be an excellent choice if you want to specialise further, gain more professional experience or just learn more about your subject.

But is postgrad life the right choice for you? We’ve summarised some of the key differences between undergraduate and postgraduate study to help you decide on that next step.

Student in a teaching lab

Find out more about your subject or head off in a totally new direction

While some postgraduates will pursue a very similar course to their undergraduate degree, others will take the opportunity to learn something completely new. Whatever your choice, it’s a chance for an exciting new start. 

You have more freedom to choose what you study

It’s common at postgraduate level to have more ability to select what you learn about. You may be able to create your own assignment titles or questions. You might also have a wide choice of modules to pick from.

These freedoms are course-dependent. Some vocational courses will have a more rigid curriculum, particularly if you’re due to receive a professionally recognised qualification at the end (examples might be teaching or law qualifications). Either way, you’re likely to have more control over your time at this level, because…

There is a greater requirement for self-directed learning

Level 7 courses sometimes have fewer contact hours than undergraduate degrees, but this doesn’t mean less work. Instead, you’re expected to spend more time reading course material and completing various assignments independently. This is great for people who enjoy individual working, while it can be a new challenge if you’re used to tutor-led learning.

The workload can be intense, and particularly if you’re completing a one-year Master’s degree, you should think of it as a full-time job. Our independent learning and time management resources can help you to find a schedule for postgraduate study that suits you.

There are lots of options for you to study at your own pace

Many Master’s degrees are also available on a part-time basis, so you can complete your course over a longer period (e.g. 2 or 3 years). This can enable you to gain your qualification alongside work or family commitments.

There are also many shorter courses available, most of which are vocational (so will help you progress in a specific career). Postgraduate certificates and diplomas vary in length from just a few weeks to a couple of years, depending on the course you choose.

You’ll get a window into a new intellectual world

Undergraduates might gain just a glimpse of the wider work of the University: its world-class research. But at Level 7 and beyond, you will learn more about the thriving research community at LBU – and even become part of it, too. Postgraduates are often invited to conferences, research groups and seminars involving leading experts in the field, and it’s exciting to be part of this world. At the same time, you’ll be developing top-level critical thinking skills, learning to be strategic, methodical and measured. These are transferable skills, meaning they will stand you in good stead in any future workplace.

You’ll need to read, read, read

At undergraduate level, you may have relied on your course reading list. At Level 7 and above, however, you’ll be expected to find your own resources, too. Luckily, you can take advantage of the excellent library resources available at LBU, as well as research support from the Academic Support Team. You can make an appointment with them via the Get Help form.

There is lots of support available, both on your course and beyond

Whatever course you choose, your School will have a dedicated team of academics and support staff to help you navigate your studies. But don’t forget the University’s wider student support services, too, which are there to help you make the big decisions about things like careers, finance and wellbeing.

On the academic side, the Skills for Learning team can help you manage the transition to Level 7 through workshops, one-to-one appointments and academic skills resources. There are workshops aimed specifically at students progressing to higher levels of study. Try Advanced Academic Writing and Critical Thinking II to help you progress to that next stage in your academic development. There is also a customised module in MyBeckett "Study On" to help you make the move.

Whether this is the start of a journey to a PhD or a springboard into the workplace, postgraduate study is a great way to gain confidence in your own ideas and abilities. So, if you think it’s for you, go for it!

Originally published May 2021; updated March and October 2023

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