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Some possibly stupid questions about pursuing Postgrad Masters watch

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    Sorry if the answers to these should be apparent. Obviously if the answer to the first question is a yes then the rest need not be answered.

    Does it need to be in the subject you completed your undergrad degree in? Or not e.g. studying Neuroscience and then doing a Masters in Artificial Intelligence?
    Would your application for the Masters need to demonstrate any links you've made/that exist between your undergrad subject and the Masters you want to pursue?
    Will places like Oxbridge, UCL and Durham reject you if you don't have an undergrad background in the subject of the Masters?
    Will you be disadvantaged if you want to go from a science undergrad to a humanities Masters because it might imply weaker writing and research skills?
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    Your masters doesn't have to be in the same subject. For some masters courses you have to have done a certain course or a relevant course or have done an undergrad degree with certain content. It's very dependent on the uni and the course. You do have to talk about your skills and experience and career plans but not necessarily make direct links between undergrad and postgrad. If you meet the entry requirements and otherwise have a strong application then you should be fine. Finally, scientists also have strong research and writing skills so I'm not sure why you think you will be at a disadvantage?
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    Just be aware that you will be alongside people who have done a 3 year degree in that subject and know a great deal more about it than than you do. Not just the subject but also the theory behind it. A Masters is designed to build on this existing knowledge and take you into more specialist areas, potentially as a preparation for a PhD.

    However, it IS do-able. If the two subjects are allied/related then, whilst you will have to get up to speed very quickly on the basics undergrad stuff, then it isnt too much of a climb. Your application would be looked at in that light, and if you can show in your PS that a) you understand the challenge, and b) have the comprehension of the 'new' subject to cope, then you should be okay.

    Two final points - why do you want to do a Masters? You need to be very honest with yourself about this question. Many people do a Masters because they think it'll bump them up the job queue - it usually doesn't, because unless you have relevant work experience, you will still be a 'new graduate with no experience'. Also, remember the cost. Aside from the £9,000 loan, there is no guaranteed funding. How will you fund this and will it be worth it if it doesn't necessarily make any difference to your job prospects?

    I'd say 'Apply' - but think carefully first.
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    (Original post by RedQueen)
    Sorry if the answers to these should be apparent. Obviously if the answer to the first question is a yes then the rest need not be answered.

    Does it need to be in the subject you completed your undergrad degree in? Or not e.g. studying Neuroscience and then doing a Masters in Artificial Intelligence?
    Would your application for the Masters need to demonstrate any links you've made/that exist between your undergrad subject and the Masters you want to pursue?
    Will places like Oxbridge, UCL and Durham reject you if you don't have an undergrad background in the subject of the Masters?
    Will you be disadvantaged if you want to go from a science undergrad to a humanities Masters because it might imply weaker writing and research skills?
    Some universities and departments are more fussy than others about whether the undergrad degree should be in a related subject. If its not clear from the entry requirements pages of the courses you are interested in then email admissions.
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    (Original post by RedQueen)
    Would your application for the Masters need to demonstrate any links you've made/that exist between your undergrad subject and the Masters you want to pursue?
    It would, though in a sense this is common to all master's applicants: most strong master's statements of purpose indicate how some of the applicants' undergraduate work was in some way helpful preparation for the courses they're applying to, whether within or outside the discipline.

    (Original post by RedQueen)
    Will places like Oxbridge, UCL and Durham reject you if you don't have an undergrad background in the subject of the Masters?
    If in doubt, read the relevant departmental websites carefully and then contact them.

    (Original post by RedQueen)
    Will you be disadvantaged if you want to go from a science undergrad to a humanities Masters because it might imply weaker writing and research skills?
    It would be unusual to go directly from a STEM undergraduate degree to a straight humanities master's—I'm not sure I personally know anyone who's done this. Writing and research skills are not normally left implicit in postgraduate applications: most humanities courses expect you to include sample work in your application. It would be in your interest to have some convincingly competent work in the field you'd be applying 'into' ready to show them. Most disciplines have some specific quirks in theory, methodology, methods and writing and even scholars working in relatively close disciplines sometimes have to make an effort to switch: someone who writes well in history isn't automatically going to be write well in literary criticism, anthropology or archaeology. You might have to work hard and get some guidance on writing in some unfamiliar academic genres/modes.

    If you're dead set on postgraduate study it may be worth keeping an eye out for interdisciplinary courses. I know someone who did their BA in one discipline, then took an interdisciplinary, inter-departmental master's with several modules in a second discipline, and then wound up doing a PhD 'straight' in the second discipline.

    Also if you're coming from a STEM background you may find there are corners of the humanities which might be more welcoming, such as the history of medicine or philosophy of science. But note that both of those sit firmly within existing disciplines: scholars in the history of medicine are expected to be competent historians, and similarly in the philosophy of science they're expected to be competent philosophers. So you'd still need to demonstrate disciplinary competence in your application.

    --

    returnmigrant has covered most of what I'd want to say otherwise, and I want particularly to second the third paragraph of their post.
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    Long story short...you can be accepted onto a totally different masters subject to your undergraduate one. It depends on you writing a good personal statement that explain your intentions and suitability etc and whether the uni is open to this. It will depend on the subject but generally speaking it is possible.
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    (Original post by alleycat393)
    Your masters doesn't have to be in the same subject. For some masters courses you have to have done a certain course or a relevant course or have done an undergrad degree with certain content. It's very dependent on the uni and the course. You do have to talk about your skills and experience and career plans but not necessarily make direct links between undergrad and postgrad. If you meet the entry requirements and otherwise have a strong application then you should be fine. Finally, scientists also have strong research and writing skills so I'm not sure why you think you will be at a disadvantage?
    By science subject (I should have been clearer), I meant something like Maths, Engineering, Computer Science. I meant disadvantaged compared to someone with a humanities undergrad, who will have done more independent reading and research and have experience of seminars and such. If I met the entry requirements and had a strong application, would I need to provide a reason more substantial than 'I've long had a significant interest in this subject....' for applying?
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    (Original post by QHF)
    It would, though in a sense this is common to all master's applicants: most strong master's statements of purpose indicate how some of the applicants' undergraduate work was in some way helpful preparation for the courses they're applying to, whether within or outside the discipline.



    If in doubt, read the relevant departmental websites carefully and then contact them.



    It would be unusual to go directly from a STEM undergraduate degree to a straight humanities master's—I'm not sure I personally know anyone who's done this. Writing and research skills are not normally left implicit in postgraduate applications: most humanities courses expect you to include sample work in your application. It would be in your interest to have some convincingly competent work in the field you'd be applying 'into' ready to show them. Most disciplines have some specific quirks in theory, methodology, methods and writing and even scholars working in relatively close disciplines sometimes have to make an effort to switch: someone who writes well in history isn't automatically going to be write well in literary criticism, anthropology or archaeology. You might have to work hard and get some guidance on writing in some unfamiliar academic genres/modes.

    If you're dead set on postgraduate study it may be worth keeping an eye out for interdisciplinary courses. I know someone who did their BA in one discipline, then took an interdisciplinary, inter-departmental master's with several modules in a second discipline, and then wound up doing a PhD 'straight' in the second discipline.

    Also if you're coming from a STEM background you may find there are corners of the humanities which might be more welcoming, such as the history of medicine or philosophy of science. But note that both of those sit firmly within existing disciplines: scholars in the history of medicine are expected to be competent historians, and similarly in the philosophy of science they're expected to be competent philosophers. So you'd still need to demonstrate disciplinary competence in your application.

    --

    returnmigrant has covered most of what I'd want to say otherwise, and I want particularly to second the third paragraph of their post.
    If I had an A grade in a humanities A level, an A in EPQ, took some modules of the humanities subject as part of my undergrad, attended summer programmes to study the humanities subject, how far would this strengthen my application?
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    (Original post by RedQueen)
    By science subject (I should have been clearer), I meant something like Maths, Engineering, Computer Science. I meant disadvantaged compared to someone with a humanities undergrad, who will have done more independent reading and research and have experience of seminars and such. If I met the entry requirements and had a strong application, would I need to provide a reason more substantial than 'I've long had a significant interest in this subject....' for applying?
    Again very dependent on what course and which uni. Even people studying the science subjects you mention will have independent reading, research and seminar experience. You really do have to make a case for wanting to do the subject and how it will help with your career plans (not just a long standing interest). If in doubt contact the uni and they'll tell you if your profile is suitable.
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    (Original post by RedQueen)
    By science subject (I should have been clearer), I meant something like Maths, Engineering, Computer Science. I meant disadvantaged compared to someone with a humanities undergrad, who will have done more independent reading and research and have experience of seminars and such. If I met the entry requirements and had a strong application, would I need to provide a reason more substantial than 'I've long had a significant interest in this subject....' for applying?
    As has been said before, it's a moveable feast and very much depends on the uni or department.

    Having a significant interest in the subject is good, but can you demonstrate it in any concrete way? Are you familiar with core and recent texts/authors/research? Can you comment on them sensibly? Are there particular aspects you would like to explore in your dissertation? Have you done anything professional or voluntary which involved the subject? Have you done any non-uni study in the subject just for the interest and if so, what did you particularly take away from it? There are ways of making a good case in your situation, but your target uni will most likely be looking for some kind of background knowledge and proof of your interest. You can do that in your application.

    You could do worse than emailing a few Admissions Offices of unis which run the Masters you're considering, explaining your background, and asking them. Some unis list the academic staff member who is the Programme Co-ordinator on the subject web page - they might be a better direct first contact in your situation (plus potential brownie points for enthusiasm and initiative!) In the end, that's the only way you'll find out for sure.
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    (Original post by RedQueen)
    If I had an A grade in a humanities A level, an A in EPQ, took some modules of the humanities subject as part of my undergrad, attended summer programmes to study the humanities subject, how far would this strengthen my application?
    That's all good and would help but I can't tell how much. It might have a useful foot-in-the-door effect. As I said, most master's application processes require sample work, and they'll be able to judge your knowledge of the field and your ability to work in it much more precisely from that than from the subject's appearances on your CV. There are, after all, applicants who have an academic background entirely in the discipline they're applying in but don't submit work which is convincing.

    As Klix88 says talking to people in the institutions themselves might clear some of this up.
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    (Original post by RedQueen)
    If I had an A grade in a humanities A level, an A in EPQ, took some modules of the humanities subject as part of my undergrad, attended summer programmes to study the humanities subject, how far would this strengthen my application?
    In my experience it's not too difficult to be offered a place on a postgraduate humanities course where your undergraduate degree subject isn't necessarily related. In your personal statement the key thing to do is draw attention to your general skills and achievements that make you suitable for the course (as you have done here) and also your specific interest in the course you are applying to.
 
 
 
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