Thanks for the detailed reply.(Original post by Newcastle456)
Well, I completed my master's in a very competitive subject area (500 apps for 50-60 starting every year), they vary from field to field (some are 2 to 1, classics rtc). This is same for UG, there's a wealth of difference between doing say Law, Economics, PPE, Medicine than Land Economy, Celtic Studies, etc. Oxbridge courses just aren't the same competitiveness so it's not a binary choice. Of course, the university will play this down, but it's the same for colleges. Trinity is obviously much more competitive and prestigious than Homerton.
I had several tutorials across the year, small seminar classes (6-10 students) lectures with 4 students, lectures with 30-35 (never more, UG can have 100s) I was taught by the leading academics in my field (who don't teach UGS so much), world economic forum economist of the year in x, another CBE, etc etc. Contact time about 12 hours a week? More than my UG in honours years. My faculty is a postgraduate only one too and my course was half taught, half research, very different to most other subjects. I had 5 mini dissertations (4000 - 5000 words each and 3 exams for formal assessment). On top of that, I personally did 3 unassessed 2000 word essays but it was up to you how many you did, the academics would look at it but I just didn't have much more time.
I can't speak for other courses but I had world class teaching by genuine world leaders, our own lecture series was organised by the academics who brought in several leading figures and even our normal lectures, if they were in a niche subject area, they brought in the expert because they had the contact.
If I continue onto the PhD, I'll be taking the UG tutorials so it's getting to stage where it's redundant for me, i'm actually becoming an expert. I already work part time doing UG admissions help for Oxbridge and similar top institution entrance.
My course had several diplomats, un workers, lobbyists, I'd be mad to compare the cohort quality to my UG who were equally bright (maybe brighter) but just not as motivated or complete with real world experience.
To sum, I can't compare my experiences. I'm already working in the civil service and starting quite a prestigious graduate internship with a notable organisation soon and my range of options uk and abroad are immense. Another thing I'll add is I'm more proactive than most, basically it's what you make of your experience. I also was at a traditional old college and my university experience was very memorable.
I had many an interesting chat with the UGS (although some were absolute mugs [same with PG] but most great chat) over hall too about their subjects and have good memories, I'm only 22 myself.
On the labour market, when you apply for more senior roles in my field (development), you won't even get looked at without a master's, I can easily migrate abroad now, and i'm actually now thinking about a MBA in the US. Prestige etc has become redundant, university is a signalling device for some, it's probably very different if I didn't already have a prestigious PPE degree in the bag and was doing English or something.
At master's level you also interact with people from Harvard, top regional universities, Stanford, Chicago, Oxford, LSE, Warwick, it's just different. You are getting beyond point where people are just doing a subject which they are good at, people are carefully thinking about careers etc.
The university and UK gov also gave me £10k so I barely paid for my master's too in terms of tuition. Lucky, fortunate, I worked hard all I can say. Cambridge is life changing if you want it to be, it's what you make of it.
It seems my impression of Oxbridge postgrad was misguided.
Which unis have sent theirs?