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Getting into Oxbridge for Postgraduate Study

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    (Original post by Nattatouille)

    So I did, but when I went to the interview, I found a lot of the people there difficult to get along with. And in the interview I felt really uncomfortable and out of my depth. And when they offered me a place-- I turned it down to go to do the same programme in Southampton instead... Just because in Southampton the people and supervisors were far less 'results driven' and it seemed like a nicer environment to work and study in.
    Of course, the Ivy League / Oxbridge environment with all the pressure to succeed and competition among students is not suited for everybody, but some people thrive in that kind of environment and in the end, there is no doubt they get a better education. This is why top companies recruit people from there: the graduates have demonstrated they can cope with pressure and they are used to being pushed to produce their best work.
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    (Original post by Carrotcake18)
    Unlike the undergraduates who get tutorials/supervisions with better quality of teaching, studying a masters at Oxbridge is not really any better than another top universities. Its just ink on paper.


    And there are "tutorials/supervisions" for postgraduate study at Oxford, too
    Here is a quote from my Guidance notes:

    a) The role of supervisors
    The tradition of graduate work at Oxford is one of individual supervision of each student, (i.e. tutorials) combined with small seminars, lectures and classes. Each graduate student is assigned by the REES Management Committee to a supervisor, who may be in a different college from that of the student. In addition to the supervisor, each graduate student is assigned to a college adviser, who takes a general interest in the student’s well-being, and from whom the student can seek academic and other advice. The supervisor is responsible for planning with the student his or her course of study and for keeping an eye on overall progress....

    A foundation for monitoring of student progress is provided by the Training Needs Analysis (TNA), which is carried out by the student and supervisor in term 1. The TNA reviews past training of the student, identifies generic and subject-specific skills and knowledge that requires development, and formulates a training plan....

    The first year of the course gives the students a solid basis in the major facts, methodologies and perspectives in the field of Russian and East European Studies, and develops students’ research skills. This base is then supplemented in the second year by specialised coursework on the optional papers, methodology and the thesis. The approach to teaching involves a carefully planned programme of supervision, tutorials, classes, seminars and lectures.

    The truth is - you get exactly what you pay for, the best education in the world.
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    Thank you very much for your insight! I think I will go ahead and apply to these Oxbridge programmes, as I do not intend to obtain a PhD and agree that a year spent at either university would not be a year wasted.

    As a side note, I suppose I could use the argument that British literature is widely studied in the States; most American English students don't flock to America for British lit degrees! The specific institution and, of course, academic staff, are what seem to count most.

    You must be so relieved to be finished with the application process! Out of curiosity, were you required to interview for your place? If so, was it mainly about your research proposal? I am a bit nervous about the prospect of having an interview, but according to other students on here, Master's interviews are not very common. I'm hoping that's true...

    Anyway, thanks again for your help
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    (Original post by Ghost6)
    Of course, the Ivy League / Oxbridge environment with all the pressure to succeed and competition among students is not suited for everybody, but some people thrive in that kind of environment and in the end, there is no doubt they get a better education. This is why top companies recruit people from there: the graduates have demonstrated they can cope with pressure and they are used to being pushed to produce their best work.
    I have to admit that the pressure is my higher in Oxbridge-- there is no denying it. I reckon I could of done it and coped... But then, what was the point if I couldn't make friends or of settled there properly? The only people I got along with on the open day all ended up elsewhere (Bristol, UCL)

    I don't know whether they will get a better education in terms of certain post-grads. It is again all about the supervisors, your project and subject. And of course, if you don't like the environment, you're not going to perform at your best.

    I reckon if you don't get in to Oxbridge, as long as you go to a Russell Group uni you are showing your ability to cope with pressure and succeed. And a PhD from there is no different from Oxbridge (apart from really the prestige)

    (Original post by janjanmmm)
    The truth is - you get exactly what you pay for, the best education in the world.
    The cost of my course was the same across all the universities I applied to.

    The studentship paid £2,000 more than other universities though.
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    (Original post by Ombre_Rouge)
    I was wondering if I could receive some input regarding applying for one-year Master's programmes in the UK. I am an American international student entering my fourth year as an English undergraduate at the University of St Andrews. I would like to apply to Oxford, Cambridge, St Andrews, and possibly another university for my Master's. Oxford and Cambridge both have American literature programmes (MSt in English and American Studies at Oxford, MPhil in American Literature at Cambridge).

    When I told my sister of my intention to apply to study American literature in Britain, she acted as though it was a poor choice, speculating that Oxbridge might not specialise in American literature and that I might be better off applying to American universities. I am not interested in applying to American universities because I would like to stay in Britain another year; do not want to be bothered with two standardised tests (the GRE and a subject test -- why an English applicant's eligibility would be partly determined by a maths score, I have no idea...); and do not like the fact that top American unis seem to encourage getting PhDs instead of Master's (some not having true Master's programmes).

    I do not need convincing that Oxbridge have impeccably high standards, so I would imagine that an American literature Master's degree would be just as formidable as another type of English degree from Oxbridge. In your opinion, am I justified in thinking this, or does it seem silly or foolish for an American to study American literature abroad? Does anyone have any thoughts on either of these programmes?

    Many thanks for your help!
    What is the idea behind studying a masters degree if you do not intend to pursue doctoral research? That to me seems the more pressing issue rather than the legitimacy of studying American literature in Britain.
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    (Original post by Nattatouille)

    The cost of my course was the same across all the universities I applied to.

    The studentship paid £2,000 more than other universities though.
    This is probably because you are considered home/EU student. Not to worry, we (international students) are paying for you - I have to pay £17500

    Compare that to £13000 for University of Edinburgh, or free tuition at German schools, and you will understand what I am talking about
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    (Original post by janjanmmm)
    This is probably because you are considered home/EU student. Not to worry, we (international students) are paying for you - I have to pay £17500

    Compare that to £13000 for University of Edinburgh, or free tuition at German schools, and you will understand what I am talking about
    Yipes; I always forget that! You pay for one of us straight off the bat. :eek:

    So yeah, Oxbridge is expensive. I'm kind of glad I'm a home student. But I stand by it not being fair that others have to pay through the nose for it just because you're not local.
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    (Original post by janjanmmm)
    And there are "tutorials/supervisions" for postgraduate study at Oxford, too
    Here is a quote from my Guidance notes:



    The truth is - you get exactly what you pay for, the best education in the world.
    Yes, but all grad students have a supervisor for their thesis. And I wouldn't focus too much on the college supervisor...

    Of course the Oxbridge tutorial system is great at all levels, but at graduate level, Oxford and Cambridge are not always the best. They can't specialise in everything!
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    (Original post by Nattatouille)
    Yipes; I always forget that! You pay for one of us straight off the bat. :eek:

    So yeah, Oxbridge is expensive. I'm kind of glad I'm a home student. But I stand by it not being fair that others have to pay through the nose for it just because you're not local.
    Well yeah it's not "fair", but life isn't (I'm international btw...). And there are courses that charge the same for home and international, mainly the finance-related ones.

    Re your other post, I agree that they can't specialize in everything, but the post being answered was not actually taking that line, but the poster saying they felt out of their depth and preferring to go somewhere less results-driven. I find myself in the unusual situation of agreeing with Ghost's response on that one.
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    (Original post by Ombre_Rouge)
    Thank you very much for your insight! I think I will go ahead and apply to these Oxbridge programmes, as I do not intend to obtain a PhD and agree that a year spent at either university would not be a year wasted.

    As a side note, I suppose I could use the argument that British literature is widely studied in the States; most American English students don't flock to America for British lit degrees! The specific institution and, of course, academic staff, are what seem to count most.

    You must be so relieved to be finished with the application process! Out of curiosity, were you required to interview for your place? If so, was it mainly about your research proposal? I am a bit nervous about the prospect of having an interview, but according to other students on here, Master's interviews are not very common. I'm hoping that's true...

    Anyway, thanks again for your help
    I didn't have interviews for admission, no. I've never heard of them being done for Oxford and Cambridge English programmes at masters level. I did have a funding interview with Cambridge - it was over the phone, I didn't have to go there in person, and it was extremely short. Oxford doesn't do funding interviews for 'normal' funding, only for special scholarships. So, don't worry about it!
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    (Original post by Little Jules)
    Yes, but all grad students have a supervisor for their thesis. And I wouldn't focus too much on the college supervisor...

    Of course the Oxbridge tutorial system is great at all levels, but at graduate level, Oxford and Cambridge are not always the best. They can't specialise in everything!
    Of course, but if you read my entire post you will see, that it is a lot more than just that. I was admitted to Edinburgh and Bristol, too, btw, - they did not promise anything like that. Neither anything like that is present at LSE, for example.

    Here is a quote from an old thread here on the forum, this person is comparing Russian and East European Studies (REES) programme at Oxford with similar programme at LSE:

    (Original post by WaltzvWendt)

    Oxford: You can just make Oxford into a social event if you're not keen on the course. As difficult and as dry as people may have found REES (their preference, not a reflection on the course) they've never regretted the Oxford college experience. The experience one would find at LSE is not as socially leisurely (not as many balls and bops), and is quite utilitarian. You'd have coffee with people at London and be at pubs, but you can do the same in many cities. At least Oxford is a different experience. ...

    LSE:
    The Department can seem impersonal. The staff are excessively busy with their own research and are only able to meet personally with students 15 minutes each week during office hours. You will learn a lot in your lectures and seminars, but you will be largely independent and on your own. I know that in Oxford they get more pastoral support, more meetings and longer, etc and the meetings are scheduled so they make sure you don't fall through the cracks. At LSE it's more like survival of the fittest and if you fall no one will care to catch you. It's an intellectual pressure cooker. You won't be assigned to do as much work as Oxford, but you'll end up doing the same anyhow if you want that Merit/Distinction.
    source:
    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show....php?t=1369913
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    (Original post by janjanmmm)
    Of course, but if you read my entire post you will see, that it is a lot more than just that. I was admitted to Edinburgh and Bristol, too, btw, - they did not promise anything like that. Neither anything like that is present at LSE, for example.

    Here is a quote from an old thread here on the forum, this person is comparing Russian and East European Studies (REES) programme at Oxford with similar programme at LSE:



    source:
    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show....php?t=1369913
    I'm not saying that Oxford's not a great place to be a grad student - it is, I'm pleased I did my MPhil there, and in terms of student life, it's great, because there is so much going on and the colleges are good for grads. You get a lot out of being a grad at Oxbridge that you wouldn't get elsewhere, you get great library facilities, the social life is wonderful, there is pastoral support etc. I'm just saying that Oxbridge isn't guaranteed to be better than other universities as a grad student. Oxbridge does not always have the top people in each discipline - they couldn't. Some people will find that there is a better fit with a supervisor elsewhere.
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    (Original post by sj27)
    Well yeah it's not "fair", but life isn't (I'm international btw...). And there are courses that charge the same for home and international, mainly the finance-related ones.

    Re your other post, I agree that they can't specialize in everything, but the post being answered was not actually taking that line, but the poster saying they felt out of their depth and preferring to go somewhere less results-driven. I find myself in the unusual situation of agreeing with Ghost's response on that one.
    No, I have to agree that life isn't fair. I've learnt that one the hard way. But you can't let it get you down.

    Heh, the other post you are talking about was actually mine... So yeah, I was saying that when I went there for the interview I really didn't like it and so decided to decline the offer from Cambridge and instead go to Southampton.

    I can imagine they give you more in certain fields and the idea of having a PhD from Cambridge really makes you more employable; you're probably more publishable too (which is a massive appeal to me). But as I said, going to a Russell Group uni to do a PhD is not to be sniffed at (it's not like they aren't good universities, or an achievement in themselves to be doing a fully sponsored PhD).

    Wherever you go, it's about what you make it.

    ETA: Although, I am in agreement that a taught programme is probably better from Oxbridge. Research, it's a personal thing and it's up to you to push. No matter where you go there will be great supervisors, good supervisors and the bad supervisors (no necessarily about their knowledge, but the way they communicate with you, encourage and support you).
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    Hi all,

    I have gotten into the Department of Oriental Studies at Oxford for 2012. I wanted some advice about
    a) college vs off campus accommodation
    b) Wolfson college generally. What kinds of people are there? Is it just me or does the building look like a hotel... isn't the old buildings a lot of the Oxford charm?

    Any thoughts would be very welcome!
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    (Original post by thatfineframe)
    I didn't have interviews for admission, no. I've never heard of them being done for Oxford and Cambridge English programmes at masters level. I did have a funding interview with Cambridge - it was over the phone, I didn't have to go there in person, and it was extremely short. Oxford doesn't do funding interviews for 'normal' funding, only for special scholarships. So, don't worry about it!
    Thanks again for your reply. I'm relieved to hear that!
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    (Original post by evantej)
    What is the idea behind studying a masters degree if you do not intend to pursue doctoral research? That to me seems the more pressing issue rather than the legitimacy of studying American literature in Britain.
    As far as I'm aware, many people study for Master's degrees who do not intend to obtain PhDs and eventually be employed by universities (e.g. secondary education, people who want to go into an employable area unrelated to English literature, etc.). I know several working people who have Master's but not PhDs. I'm not sure that the workability of my academic plan is a concern of mine, as I've thought carefully about my options and know the direction I wish to pursue. Thanks anyway, though.
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    (Original post by Ombre_Rouge)
    As far as I'm aware, many people study for Master's degrees who do not intend to obtain PhDs and eventually be employed by universities (e.g. secondary education, people who want to go into an employable area unrelated to English literature, etc.). I know several working people who have Master's but not PhDs. I'm not sure that the workability of my academic plan is a concern of mine, as I've thought carefully about my options and know the direction I wish to pursue. Thanks anyway, though.
    None of this makes any sense. In the UK, most people who study for a masters degree in the arts and humanities want to do a PhD, at least at the outset. The only people who study for its own sake are mature students who can afford to and often do so part-time (i.e. they have taken some time away and appreciate education for what it is), or recent graduates who do not know what they want to do or think a masters degree will make them more employable. As far as English graduates are concerned concerned, the only jobs in a university that an English graduate could get do not require a degree (e.g. administration, working in the library etc.); a postgraduate degree is completely irrelevant when working in secondary education; and English graduates are limited by their degree, in terms of switching to an unrelated discipline for employability reasons (advanced degree in librarianship and law are about the only two they can apply for).

    If the workability of this is not a concern for you then you probably have money to waste and do not have to worry about finding a job... If you did then you would think twice about wasting a year and a lot of money doing something which will not benefit you at all.
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    (Original post by evantej)
    None of this makes any sense. In the UK, most people who study for a masters degree in the arts and humanities want to do a PhD, at least at the outset.

    If the workability of this is not a concern for you then you probably have money to waste and do not have to worry about finding a job... If you did then you would think twice about wasting a year and a lot of money doing something which will not benefit you at all.
    In the US you do not need Masters to do PhD. People who go into Masters usually do not want PhD, and vice versa.

    On the other hand, in many areas you will be a lot more competitive to the employers if you have Masters. Your starting salary will also likely be higher, on average about 10-20 000 dollars per year on top of what people with Bachelors only get. You will recover the full cost of your masters degree in a couple of years.

    Since Ombre_Rouge is from the USA, his logic will be different from that of a British student.
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    (Original post by janjanmmm)
    In the US you do not need Masters to do PhD. People who go into Masters usually do not want PhD, and vice versa.

    On the other hand, in many areas you will be a lot more competitive to the employers if you have Masters. Your starting salary will also likely be higher, on average about 10-20 000 dollars per year on top of what people with Bachelors only get. You will recover the full cost of your masters degree in a couple of years.

    Since Ombre_Rouge is from the USA, his logic will be different from that of a British student.
    The OP is an American student in a British university. She will have studied here for four years. She wants to study at a British university for her masters degree. Given this background, the point about the US is completely irrelevant to this thread, and actually misleading because of the way admissions work for doctoral programmes in the US. It is rather presumptuous of you to suggest that she is ignorant of how our education system works.

    You talk in generalities ('in many areas') which have no relation to reality. The figure you propose is simply unbelievable. Normal graduates are struggling to get any kind of job at the moment so the idea that someone with masters degree in English is suddenly going to earn an extra £5000-£10,000 is simply...

    I say this as an English graduate with a masters degree...
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    (Original post by evantej)
    The OP is an American student in a British university. She will have studied here for four years. She wants to study at a British university for her masters degree. Given this background, the point about the US is completely irrelevant to this thread, and actually misleading because of the way admissions work for doctoral programmes in the US. It is rather presumptuous of you to suggest that she is ignorant of how our education system works.

    You talk in generalities ('in many areas') which have no relation to reality. The figure you propose is simply unbelievable. Normal graduates are struggling to get any kind of job at the moment so the idea that someone with masters degree in English is suddenly going to earn an extra £5000-£10,000 is simply...

    I say this as an English graduate with a masters degree...
    Given current immigration policy as well as job market it is not only feasible, but most likely that US students will have no other choice but to go back to the US.
    Hence my post is not only relevant, but a lot more relevant compared to yours.

    I have not presumed anything about her knowledge of "your"(UK) system, but rather can see your ignorance in regards to "our" (US) system, which is most relevant to US students, whether they spend 4 years, or any other number of years studying in the UK. Keep on tightening your immigration laws, and it will be the only relevant subject for us.

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