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Importance of Undergraduate Degree once Postgraduate has been achieved watch

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    Just to give a bit of background info, I'm 18 and on a gap year. Currently (as my mind changes quite a bit), I have aspirations of going into either journalism, academia or social policy. It is quite disillusioning, however, to find that the vast majority of those working in these fields have gone to Oxbridge to study their undergraduate degree, when I am going to Sussex instead.

    If I am successful at university, my hope is to study a postgraduate degree at somewhere like Oxford to improve my job prospects. I was wondering, then, whether the hypothetical achievement of this would effectively reduce the importance of my previous qualifications, in the same way that A-levels matter less once you have a degree.

    I am aware that this is probably often voiced as an area of concern, so I apologise if this forum has already been flooded by questions of this nature
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    I think that the degree to which a Masters "replaces" an undergraduate degree is less than in the homologous relationship between A-Levels and a first degree. A lot of graduate employment schemes seem to place more emphasis on the "quality" (provenance and classification) of an applicant's undergraduate degree than on whether or not the applicant has a Masters.

    As to the specific career areas you mention, I can only really speak to academia:

    A Masters is, obviously, mandatory for progression into academia (as is a PhD). A distinction-level Masters is required by some PhD programmes. Obviously gaining a qualification from a more prestigious institution is desirable; but it's hardly an absolute necessity to have an Oxbridge Masters in order to get onto a well-regarded PhD programme. In any event, the reputation of one's supervisor matters at least as much as that of the awarding institution at PhD level.

    I would guess that social policy as a career path also requires a research degree. I know a lot of people who had journalism in mind as a career and are now on relevant Masters courses. But I'd guess that the process of entry into that field is slightly less rigid than in the other two paths you mention.

    Oh, and someone will say this, so it might as well be me: you're currently three years away from the time at which you would eventually be making Masters applications. Don't get too concerned about this process now. Without a high 2:1, and perhaps a First, you may be disbarred from some of the postgraduate courses you will eventually want to take anyway.
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    Thank you for the comprehensive response! Just to clarify, though, what is the distinction between provenance and classification? Do they simply refer to the university at which the degree was earned and to the grade of the degree itself? If so, does that mean my employment prospects will eventually be hampered by my choice of university, in spite of the potential achievement of a master's degree?

    I know this stage in my education is a while away, but my ambitions have been impaired by shortsightedness in the past: I wanted to be a psychiatrist, but never knew that this involved going to medical school, which was practically inaccessible because of my A-level choices.
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    Well, by "provenance" I meant, yeah, the awarding institution.

    I think that it does have some affect when making Masters applications. But, with two of the career paths you're mentioning (academia and, I would guess, social policy), an undergraduate degree is eventually superseded by both a Masters and a PhD. So the difference here is necessarily not "just a BA" versus "a BA plus a Masters". Without a Masters and a PhD, you cannot get into academia and I doubt that you could get into social policy either (though, again, I don't know this for sure).

    Anyway, you'll be at Sussex: it's hardly New Buckinghamshire or whatever (I'm sure that New Bucks is great for some things). You could certainly get onto an Oxford Masters programme with a degree from Sussex, providing that it is a high 2:1 or, in some cases, a First.

    But if you were applying to graduate schemes in other areas, then a lot of those systems don't place much emphasis even on attaining a Masters degree in the first place. So I don't think it would matter too much to them where that degree was obtained.
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    (Original post by WistfulSprite)
    Just to give a bit of background info, I'm 18 and on a gap year. Currently (as my mind changes quite a bit), I have aspirations of going into either journalism, academia or social policy. It is quite disillusioning, however, to find that the vast majority of those working in these fields have gone to Oxbridge to study their undergraduate degree, when I am going to Sussex instead.

    If I am successful at university, my hope is to study a postgraduate degree at somewhere like Oxford to improve my job prospects. I was wondering, then, whether the hypothetical achievement of this would effectively reduce the importance of my previous qualifications, in the same way that A-levels matter less once you have a degree.

    I am aware that this is probably often voiced as an area of concern, so I apologise if this forum has already been flooded by questions of this nature
    I was talking to one of the senior lecturers at my uni about this issue last week. Her take on it was basically that if you are applying for a competitive field like academia, you need to try and have one "big fish" university in your field, on your CV. Whether that be Bachelors, Masters, or PhD is not so important as just making sure you have one on there. Big fish includes other universities which are strong performers in your field, so if you're an English student then York, Edinburgh, Manchester would have to be up there.

    I do agree however with the view that it doesn't make your previous qualifications unimportant in the way that your A levels and GCSEs start to disappear in importance when you have higher qualifications. This however is a good thing, if you get a 1st in your degree at Sussex it will always go in your credit.

    Like the guy before says, Sussex is not a bad university, it seems to have a fair share of alumni in politics and the media, I wouldn't talk it down, if you get a 1st in Sussex you will be well regarded, especially if you have an MA at a top university afterwards.

    Overall I think the general mood on TSR slightly overrates the importance of institution, and slightly underrates the importance of getting a high degree classification.
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    Firstly, 'Surrey is a good university so I would not worry about missing out on an Oxford education; your post seems largely based on perceived reputation to be fair. Secondly, with regards to academia, while graduating from Oxford will help, it will not inhibit you in any way graduating from somewhere else as the industry is largely based on lecturing and research interests; my lecturers gained their PhD from Birmingham, Lancaster, Liverpool and Sheffield, for example. Thirdly, with regards to journalism, the industry is notoriously incestuous, but the most prestigious university with regards to postgraduate study is actually City University not Oxford.

    Do not be disillusioned, though as I am currently studying at Manchester Metropolitan and have been given offers at Bristol, Edinburgh, Lancaster, Sheffield and York for postgraduate study; you can make a step-up if you are so inclined, but I would not burden yourself with expectations to gain entry into Oxford when there could be universities that meet your expectations more adequately.
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    any one out there, Who always wanted to get into Red Brick just like me, ended up failing and getting into Kingston Uni, shouldnt worry about not getting into Postgraduate at a decent place. I got 2.1 from Kingston Uni last year,and i only applied 2 two universities for a joke, thinking if these top notch unis would have a giggle at my application, but turned out they had both given me offers in Web Intelligence Msc and Advance Software Engineering programmes. LOL. so dont u worry. plus One shouldnt be concerned with what degree they have, its all to do with the skill sets now days.
 
 
 
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