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Applying/Researching about Masters Degrees.

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    Okay, so I started going on open days for university at the beginning of sixth form (i.e. 2 years before I was going to attend there). I have just finished my first year of university and I was wondering when it would be a good time to start looking at universities for postgraduate study? Also, what is the rough process/timescale involved in applying?

    Thanks!
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    As with undergraduate courses, you apply for a postgrad in the academic year before the September / October in which you hope to start, and you apply directly to the institution - not through UCAS. The application deadlines vary between uni to uni and course to course, but the ones I'm familiar with have - roughly - January deadlines. Bear in mind that if you intend to apply for funding from the research councils, the date is usually earlier. You can usually find specific details on each course's website.

    So I would recommend starting now.

    This way, you'll have your entire second year to familiarise yourself with the available courses and see which ones would suit you.

    Also, your third year will probably be more intense and you'll want as few distractions as possible, so having an application ready to go will be one thing off your mind.

    Good luck finding a course.
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    (Original post by Reader 79)
    As with undergraduate courses, you apply for a postgrad in the academic year before the September / October in which you hope to start, and you apply directly to the institution - not through UCAS. The application deadlines vary between uni to uni and course to course, but the ones I'm familiar with have - roughly - January deadlines. Bear in mind that if you intend to apply for funding from the research councils, the date is usually earlier. You can usually find specific details on each course's website.

    So I would recommend starting now.

    This way, you'll have your entire second year to familiarise yourself with the available courses and see which ones would suit you.

    Also, your third year will probably be more intense and you'll want as few distractions as possible, so having an application ready to go will be one thing off your mind.

    Good luck finding a course.
    Thanks a lot!
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    What subject are you studying? Timescales and processes are likely to depend on that, to some extent.

    My two small coins of low denomination: there's no harm in thinking about postgrad study at this point, but make sure you focus on doing as well as possible in the degree you have in front of you. I don't know about actually identifying possible universities, but you could, if you haven't already, broach the subject gently with some of your current teachers. I did something like that about halfway through my second year, and got some very helpful advice on useful stuff which my degree wasn't going to include which I could pick up in my spare time. Also from then on they knew to send useful info my way if they came across any.

    As far as the process goes, in my subject, English, if you want a shot at funding, application deadlines tend to fall from Christmas to March -- usually closer to Christmas, and the trend among universities is to make them earlier and earlier. So most people work up masters applications during the autumn term of their third undergrad year. Universities then usually issue offers from late March or April onwards, usually conditional on a certain mark or classification in the undergraduate degree. I actually took a year out after my undergraduate degree, so I applied during the autumn after graduating, and wasn't given any conditions. I didn't bother visiting any of the universities I applied to, as I was much more interested in their courses and resources than in their environment. All of this paragraph might, for all I know, only be relevant in English, so caveat lector.
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    I applied for M.Sc/M.Res courses last year. I ended up doing a taught 'M.Res', when I would have perhaps been better off doing a purely research based M.Sc/M.Res (the distinction is confusing and depends on the university).
    Basically for for Masters by research, where most of your time is doing research rather than being taught about research, I contacted potential supervisors who were working in the area I was interested in. Then a research area was established and I then appied to the university. Even in this research based Masters, there were still a few 'taught' courses, focussing on such things as presentation skills and how to apply for funding.
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    My experience.

    Start thinking about what you're interested in at the start/middle of second year - what I wanted to study changed through second year.

    Talk to supervisor/relevant tutors about courses ask where is good for your course - if they're involved in the field you want to be in they should know where to go and usually are very objective, at least in my experience.

    Get all your stuff done during the first term of third year. Sample essays research statements, order a preliminary transcript (this can take up to 10 working days so definitely don't leave it till the last minute) CV. Talk to people who are your references - make sure they know who you are and know a bit about you! I sent my applications off in the beginning of December and references were all sorted by early January. It took a lot more work than I originaly reckoned as well.

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Updated: June 10, 2012
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