The transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study can seem like a daunting idea. After completing an undergraduate degree, you’ve already had the experience of moving to a new city, making new friends and starting a new course, so it is scary thinking of having to do that all over again. However, as with most new endeavours, it’s one of life’s many challenges that opens up new and exciting opportunities and something to embrace with an open mind.
Hi! My name is Megan, and I am currently studying MSc Biomedical Sciences at York. I also completed my undergraduate degree here in 2022, so I have a good idea of what it is like to study in York and the trials and tribulations of transitioning to postgraduate study. I hope my blog post will help you make the transition easier by sharing my personal experience and any advice I have collected along the way.
Starting as a postgraduate taught student at York
The scariest thing I found from starting my postgraduate course was starting anew with new people. I already knew York as a city and university, but so many of my friends had graduated and left. All the same anxieties that I had from three years prior as a fresher came flooding back to me.
Contrary to my expectations, the transition wasn’t as bad as I feared. Most postgraduate courses are set up to allow you to interact with so many other students who also want to make friends, with face-to-face lectures, workshops and seminars. I found joining societies extra helpful this year in making friends with similar interests outside of my course. In previous years, I had participated in some societies but only attended the occasional event. Whereas this year, I made the extra effort to contribute and join in more with campus life.
The fear of having to make new friends never prevented my decision to continue to study here for my postgraduate studies. I knew from experience that the University of York is a great and supportive university. This is one of the main reasons why I stayed as I knew I would be well looked after.
The biggest change I found between my undergraduate and postgraduate study is that the course is only a year long. I thought this would make it feel very intense, having to do a degree’s worth of work in only 12 months. However, I actually found that you have more independent study hours, allowing more freedom to work at your own pace and style. I have also enjoyed my Masters even more than my first degree as the course is more focused on the areas of Biology I love the most.
What to look forward to
Another difference between the two degrees is that the Masters covers the summer months. Whereas undergraduate degrees end in May or June. Considering the timescale of the Masters, I believe this does not detrimentally affect the experience of studying at postgraduate level. It is great to be able to experience York for these extra months in the summer. Especially as I am going to miss being here once I finish!
The ultimate thing to look forward to about studying here is the city itself. Not only is York an amazing cultural city with plenty of history dating back to the Romans and the Vikings, but it is also a fun city with lots to do. Some of my favourite places are the pottery painting cafe and the wizard-themed mini golf, and there is so much more out there yet to be discovered. York is right on the doorstep of the Yorkshire Dales and Moors, and it’s so easy to find new places to explore outside of the city such as Knaresborough and Harrogate.
The campus also holds many fun opportunities, including the campus bars. Courtyard and the Glasshouse, for example, are great places to go for food with your friends and to study if you want a change in atmosphere from the library.
A year can seem a long time to embark on another degree after three or four years of study at undergraduate level, and it’s tempting to choose to have a break from academic life. However, almost one year on from starting my Masters, I can say hand on heart it was one of my best decisions to stay on at York and I’d recommend it.