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Does where degree taken impact on postgrad options?

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    Does where you took your degree have a particular effect on where you can study postgrad. I'm currently at a decent but not top ranked University, but I am interested in going into research so wish to go onto some postgrad course when I finish. Although I've still got a way to go I've been looking at future options and have found that whilst my University offers quite a range of postgrad options in the areas I'm looking for, other Universities seem to be closer to my particular fields of interest. Some of the other Universities though are quite high ranked, and I'm bothered that if I went to them, even with a 1st, they would laugh me out. I hope that I can get a more realistic answer here than the predictable standard reply of "oh no, unless your Oxbridge or at least Russel Group you won't get anywhere and better practice your burger flipping".
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    Your question is pretty unspecific and I'm no expert, so it's very hard to give an answer beyond 'yes, but maybe not that much'.

    What I do know is this: universities do make some effort to make their assessment standards resemble each other, and while a First from Prestigious Institution X might be more impressive, the people assessing postgrad applications know that you don't normally get a First at a respectable but unspectacular university without effort and thought.

    They may also be prepared to make allowances for factors that might make getting a First harder, at least in some respects, at a less prestigious uni -- fewer competitive peers whose presence might spur you on, less access to resources, less pastoral support &c.

    Finally, because they work within your discipline they are more likely to be alert to particular departmental strengths or significant academics at your undergraduate department -- the man or woman on the Clapham omnibus might find an elite university name impressive, but the people assessing postgrad applications will have a more nuanced picture.

    If you're doing well as an undergraduate and your areas of interest for further study match other unis' strengths, I'd say you should totally consider applying to them even if they're seemingly more prestigious. Though as I said, I'm no expert. If you haven't already, do canvass opinion from the people teaching you. It's difficult to get impartial advice, but even partial advice can be pretty helpful (revealing, even).
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    Does it really matter that much? I wanna do Bristol/Oxford's masters course after I graduate from UWE. I've spoken to a lecturer of mine who did similar, and he mentioned nothing about UWE being an obstacle. Entry requirements are a high second class degree. I know UWE isn't great, but a first is as good as I can do, so why not?
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    There are plenty of people who get into top unis from lower ranked ones, sometimes even quite poor ones at undergrad. The important thing is to do well - if you get a first, and have good references, you'll be a competitive applicant for postgrad even at Oxbridge.
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    I'm in my third year at a decent but not amazing uni at the moment and I've just accepted an offer for postgrad from one of the Russel Group unis in central London. I was stunned when they offered me a place, as I was thinking along exactly the same lines as you. The way I see it is you've got nothing to lose by applying. You can always apply to some less high ranking places as well just in case, which is what I did.
    Good luck!
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    If you don't ask, you won't get. What do you have to lose by trying?
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    My current university is at the bottom (and I mean the BOTTOM) of the league tables for my subject.

    Yet I just got accepted to every single postgrad course that I applied to...which included courses at a number of Russel Group institutions - one or two are arguably in the top five in the country.

    Academic references and personal statement are far more important. As far as grades go - I have only been asked for a 2:1 even though I am on track for a 1st.

    Be brave and go for it - I never thought that I stood a chance at half of these places. Just make sure that you pick your referees well

    If you're aiming for Oxford you may also need to provide writing samples (depending on your course) so make sure that they are as good as they can be as well - if your current university is any good then they should be willing to look those over for you and give you advice.

    You'll do fine I'm sure. Passion and intelligence will always outshine the overall reputation of your previous university when it comes to recruiting for postgrad students.
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    I will be completing my degree at Middlesex University (which is pretty bad) this summer and have been offered a place at the London School of Economics for my MSc in Management, Organisations and Governance for the 2012 session.

    References and Personal statement are given great emphasis by graduate admisisons when applying. Make sure they are top notch.
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    (Original post by Nixiii)
    My current university is at the bottom (and I mean the BOTTOM) of the league tables for my subject.

    Yet I just got accepted to every single postgrad course that I applied to...which included courses at a number of Russel Group institutions - one or two are arguably in the top five in the country.

    Academic references and personal statement are far more important. As far as grades go - I have only been asked for a 2:1 even though I am on track for a 1st.

    Be brave and go for it - I never thought that I stood a chance at half of these places. Just make sure that you pick your referees well

    If you're aiming for Oxford you may also need to provide writing samples (depending on your course) so make sure that they are as good as they can be as well - if your current university is any good then they should be willing to look those over for you and give you advice.

    You'll do fine I'm sure. Passion and intelligence will always outshine the overall reputation of your previous university when it comes to recruiting for postgrad students.
    Great post. Totally agree and can relate to this. My uni's (ex-poly) ranked about 67th out of ~120 UK universities and I'm pending an offer from Cambridge. Whether I can obtain the grades is another question..but to answer the OP's question; it doesn't matter where you've studied, if your grades are good and you gave strong references/PS, your in with a good shot. Good luck!
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    (Original post by Nixiii)
    My current university is at the bottom (and I mean the BOTTOM) of the league tables for my subject.

    Yet I just got accepted to every single postgrad course that I applied to...which included courses at a number of Russel Group institutions - one or two are arguably in the top five in the country.

    Academic references and personal statement are far more important. As far as grades go - I have only been asked for a 2:1 even though I am on track for a 1st.

    Be brave and go for it - I never thought that I stood a chance at half of these places. Just make sure that you pick your referees well

    If you're aiming for Oxford you may also need to provide writing samples (depending on your course) so make sure that they are as good as they can be as well - if your current university is any good then they should be willing to look those over for you and give you advice.

    You'll do fine I'm sure. Passion and intelligence will always outshine the overall reputation of your previous university when it comes to recruiting for postgrad students.
    That sounds hopeful. How early do you have to apply for a masters course then - at the end of your second year?
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    Depends on the university but they usually open applications around October time (in the first term of third year). Well mine did anyway - not sure if it's a standard thing. It's worth trying to get in contact with potential supervisors/course directors before that point however, to get some feedback on your potential research interests and whether or not they match the departments.

    I personally waited until January in the end (crazy I know!) as I wanted more good marks on my transcript to back up my assertion that I was on-track for a 1st (as I said, I didn't think I stood a chance really) - but if you have a good idea of your future game-plan, you can never get in contact/apply too soon really. After all, once the places are filled then they're filled!
    That way you have plenty of time to apply for funding as well

    As I said, this is just my experience however. Check the individual university websites for definite info.
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    (Original post by Nixiii)
    Depends on the university but they usually open applications around October time (in the first term of third year). Well mine did anyway - not sure if it's a standard thing. It's worth trying to get in contact with potential supervisors/course directors before that point however, to get some feedback on your potential research interests and whether or not they match the departments.

    I personally waited until January in the end (crazy I know!) as I wanted more good marks on my transcript to back up my assertion that I was on-track for a 1st (as I said, I didn't think I stood a chance really) - but if you have a good idea of your future game-plan, you can never get in contact/apply too soon really. After all, once the places are filled then they're filled!
    That way you have plenty of time to apply for funding as well

    As I said, this is just my experience however. Check the individual university websites for definite info.
    Maybe getting good results in the first year is important after all then!
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    (Original post by Brit_Miller)
    Maybe getting good results in the first year is important after all then!

    Yeah, it is if you're applying before you actually graduate. Some people wait until they have their final mark so that they're in the strongest position. I figured that it was worth going for it though in the end - it's free to apply for most of them after all (although Oxbridge is £50 and a few others like UCL etc sometimes charge now).

    Relevant work experience and volunteering can up your chances as well (they let you state stuff like that on your application). Also any academic conferences/public lectures that you attend can go down on your personal statement - it's amazing how little things can give you an edge over other qualified applicants. It just makes you look like you really want it.

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Updated: April 1, 2012
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