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Guest Blog – Should I (meaning you) do a Masters?

Inspiring Young People

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Guest Blog – Should I (meaning you) do a Masters?

Studying for a Dementia or Neuroscience related Master’s degree in  is an exciting prospect and there are many reasons to consider taking this postgraduate course. After talking to a number of Masters graduates, there are many reasons they followed this course, including:

  • progressing a current clinical career path
  • developing a personal interest
  • as a stepping stone to progressing to a higher level qualification e.g. PhD

However, Masters study is intense and the courses can be expenses. You will also likely need relevant work experience for entry onto a programme. In order to make the most of postgraduate study it’s vital to have a solid reason for committing to a course. Knowing why you are studying is incredibly helpful when it comes to staying motivated, and seeing the course through.

Will I have time to do a Masters?

Masters study must fit around your lifestyle, so identifying the mode of study that’s right for you is essential.

Full-time study is the most common, and suits continuing students. You’ll work intensively for the duration of the programme, achieving your qualification as quickly as possible. Contact hours vary from course to course, but full-time study involves several lectures and seminars each week (many of those may not be in the classroom right now). Alternatively, it could require you to attend university from 9am to 5pm every weekday. Many courses will also give you an opportunity to do a work / project placement in the University you work at, assisting with research studies, or assisting in a Care Home or similar.

Part-time study, meanwhile, is primarily aimed at students with family commitments and/or in full-time employment (perhaps if you’re a Nurse or Healthcare Professional). You’ll usually study for around 20 hours every week. While qualification takes longer – often two to four years – teaching is flexible, and lectures and seminars take place during the daytime or evening. Sessions are commonly hosted during the weekends or even recorded for students to access online. Full-time work and part-time study is particularly popular with those who are self-funding their course.

Other modes of study worth considering include:

Blended learning – combines face-to-face classroom time with online learning. You can interact with lecturers, tutors and fellow students, while also working from home.

Block mode learning – involves intense face-to-face study over a fixed period, often weekends or consecutive days allowing students to book time off work in advance.

Distance learning – entails learning from home in your own time. You’ll get resources and support from a personal tutor, and can take as long as you need to complete the course.

Can I do a PhD without a Masters?

To be accepted onto a PhD, which is the highest qualification that a student can achieve, students will usually have a relevant Masters degree.

This is because students cannot attain the requisite level of in-depth knowledge about a particular area without Masters study. Those looking to progress onto a PhD from Masters study can benefit from making contacts for future reference, and surrounding themselves with students and colleagues who share their aims and interests.

However, the minimum entry requirement for most PhDs is an upper second class Bachelors degree, so it’s possible for those without a Masters to gain entry onto a Doctoral programme. It’s more common for science students to progress directly to a PhD from an undergraduate course, while those studying the arts and humanities will generally need a Masters.

Am I ready to do a Masters? (Thanks to Prospects.ac.uk for this list)

Before committing to a Masters degree, ask yourself:

  • Am I fully aware of the level of commitment required to undertake Masters study?
  • Am I prepared to do more studying and less partying than at undergraduate level?
  • Am I excited by the opportunity to write another, even longer dissertation or research project?
  • Can I afford Masters study, in terms of tuition fees and living costs?
  • Am I willing to accrue more graduate debt, or alternatively make potentially lengthy applications for funding?
  • Am I willing to live on a budget in order to cover living expenses, while my friends are in full-time employment?
  • Will the postgraduate qualification improve my career prospects?
  • Is the qualification rated highly by employers within my ideal industry?
  • Will the qualification equip me with the specific skills needed for my ideal career?
  • Will my studies allow me to qualify as a professional?
  • Am I genuinely passionate about the qualification and subject?
  • Am I certain that the courses that I’m looking at are right for me?

What Dementia / Neuroscience related courses are out there?

We are working on maintaining a list of the currently available Masters courses in the UK. Here is a list of the courses we are aware of.

What will doing a Masters really be like?

Well, I have to be honest and admit, that I haven’t personally done one – so what would I know! I wrote this blog having spoken with many Masters Students, and after undertaking some online research.

Over the coming year we are following Morgan Daniel, a Dementia and Neuroscience Masters Student at University College LondonMorgan is blogging for Dementia Researcher, and I highly recommend anyone you take a look at her blogs to get the inside track on what doing a Masters will be like.

If you have questions, Morgan will doing regular Twitter takeovers to share her typical days, and will be taking your questions. Follow our twitter feed on the 20th October, to find out more, and please put your questions to her.


Author

Adam Smith was born in the north, a long time ago. He wanted to write books, but ended up working in the NHS, and at the Department of Health.  He is now a Programme Director in the Office of the NIHR National Director for Dementia Research (which probably sounds more important than it is) at University College London. He has led a number of initiatives to improve dementia research (which happens to include creating this website, Join Dementia Research and ENRICH), as well as pursuing his own research interests. In his spare time, he grows vegetables, builds Lego and spends most of his time drinking too much coffee and squeezing technology into his house.

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