Transitioning from Undergraduate to MSc study
25 August 2021
From working alongside an inspiring and entrepreneurial cohort to adjusting to a high-paced learning environment, hear Mariia’s key considerations when transitioning from undergraduate to postgraduate study.
Having studied mathematics for my undergraduate degree at Warwick with several business modules, I have developed strong analytical skills. With the rapid adoption of data collection practices by companies worldwide, I was intrigued to learn more about how my technical background can be applied in a creative field such as marketing to support strategic decision making. Therefore, I have decided to study MSc Business with Marketing at one of the top Business Schools in the UK.
This year, talking about the transition from undergraduate to a postgraduate course, it’s hard to avoid touching the differences between online and offline learning. As my fellow ambassadors have already touched upon this burning subject, I will try to focus mainly on the other differences that I have encountered.
Eager and business savvy peers
The first aspect I want to touch upon is my masters cohort. Group work projects during undergraduate study can be challenging and lacking motivation and contribution, whereas this year my group work experience has been completely different; inspiring and full of entrepreneurial ideas. As students are coming from all over the globe and from various backgrounds, seminar discussions and group brainstorming sessions are very engaging, diverse, and sometimes can be heated!
During my undergraduate degree, I didn’t have any problem with time management and high procrastination, as, being a STEM student, my timetable was fully packed with lectures, seminars, and mentoring sections every day, keeping me organised. However, during my masters I have only one lecture and seminar each week for every module and lectures are only the introduction to your study of a particular topic, with the majority of time spent on self-studying and reading books and recent academic journal publications.
Therefore, at first it might seem like there is a lot of time for other social commitments, however as the material quickly builds up by midterm you have plenty of reading and work to complete. So, to help myself stay organised I created roadmaps for each assignment that I need to write and kept a daily checklist of tasks to do. On top of the benefits of good time management, this approach gave me extra satisfaction from ticking all the boxes in the evening and enjoying well deserved rest with a movie.
Term three has been a test of my ability to handle a lot of work in a limited timeframe, almost like a real work scenario. For two weeks we were taught new theory every day during one or two-hour lectures and had a chance to apply gained knowledge the next day during the seminars, delivering group presentations or participating in the group discussions. Despite being intense the content was very engaging and encouraging to carry on our own research, and time flew too quickly.
Exams and assignments preparation
Rather than having exams all in summer, for my masters I had exams straight after the module has been taught, leaving only short holidays to prepare. Thus, I’ve adapted the learning approach that I have developed during my undergraduate study to prepare for the exams and started thinking about the essay and writing exam notes from the very first lecture and build up my knowledge as I go along.
This approach helped me a lot for my exam preparation as I kept up with the readings and had done all the seminars for the technical modules like economics and statistics, meaning that over the holidays I only needed to brush over and refresh my knowledge on these subjects and ace my exams.
Coming from an undergraduate degree where I have written only a few essays has made me more vulnerable for the majority of subjects on my masters course. However, the approach of making notes and building up argument ideas helped me stay focused and create holistic and logical essays. On top of that, I found academic sessions provided by Business School very informative and helpful as before my masters I thought that there is only one type of writing assignments but this year I have written various business reports, essay, discussing the impact of social media on the brand, and even a reflective journal. All of these assignments have their specific structure and requirements which must be followed for reaching a high mark.
Advice for students considering postgraduate study
My first advice to students who are considering postgraduate study is to pick the course very carefully with the major that you like and want to know more about. Since postgraduate study is more dynamic compared to undergraduate, if you are interested and want to know more about the subjects you pick it will give you the motivation to stay focused and when in doubt you have no one to blame.
Secondly, be prepared to manage your time effectively from the beginning of the course so you will not fall behind. Start writing essays several weeks in advance as they require deep research of the area or company with about 10 references like reports or academic papers per 1000 words, making it impossible to write high mark essays in several days. Finally, do not leave your revision to the last minute as there is a lot of material to absorb and digest.