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    Hello all,

    I'm currently in the midst of deciding what University to choose for my Masters degree. Having done a degree in Film & Theatre for my undegrad (yes, I did a 'mickey mouse' degree), I really wanted to do a subject that is relevant to the field I want to work in, and despite my very specific subject, I have been fortunate enough to get all four of my offers.

    So I'm currently stuck between:

    Newcastle University

    University of Reading (where I did my undergrad)

    Cardiff University

    University of Leeds

    All of them require the same grade of a 2:1 which i am expecting to get. In terms of prestige, to me they are relatively all on the same level. The courses at each only differ slightly in terms of what I want to focus on, so it's purely a matter of being drawn towards one. Anyone got any comments/advice?

    Can't comment on any of those unis specifically. However I did my Masters at a different uni to my undergrad degree and I found it very interesting. The two unis had completely different theoretical approaches to my subject and this was most illuminating. I've gone on to start a PhD and I've been able to choose the approach which best suits the way I work, returning to my undergrad uni.

    It's quite a personal thing though. If you're comfortable where you are and it works for you, then there's no reason to move unis on principle. Plus many unis offer an alumni discount on postgrad fees, which is well worth taking into consideration.

    Another aspect to consider is your independent research project. If you already have an idea for the direction of your dissertation, it could be down to choosing who you'd like to supervise you, then going where they are.

    I also can't comment on the specific courses. However, your choice between these equally good options should be guided by what specific career you have in mind.

    If you want to be a practitioner (a development worker, a diplomat, or policy analyst, whatever), this is probably the wrong course in the first place. This most likely doesn't apply to you, but putting it out there anyway because of experience from my course: some people mistook the MA in IR for a practical one teaching them how to practice IR. In fact, it's a field that studies the practitioners and their institutions.

    If you want to be an academic, I reiterate the point made above: choose the university with the most prominent academics who work in the specific sub-field you're interested in. I mean, are you interested in international institutions? War and peace? Globalisation? Migration? Environment? Then ask yourself, at which uni are the bigger names for that sub-field located (or, if there are no big names, then what big names have they at least collaborated with)? Do they currently have big relevant research projects going that you could get involved with as a student assistant? Also, choose one with a strong research methods component. You will need those vital qualitative and/or quantitative methods skills to do good research.

    If you're just doing it out of a more vague interest and have no specific career in mind, choose the one with the most exciting modules, prettiest campus, most lively city etc. Also compare the departments' placement records for jobs and internships. You might not have a specific career in mind, but it's good to know the uni you're attending tends to get people employed.

    All of this requires researching the course content, faculty and university life more thoroughly on your own, but it'll be worth it.
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