Thinking about a Master's degree Watch

Nesgul
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Hi,

It might be a little early to start thinking about this but I am an English Literature and Creative Writing student at the University of Surrey and I really want to stay in education and work in academia after uni. I am pretty good at English, getting 99% at A2 and a first in every assignment so far. Therefore, my aspirations are high when thinking about a Master's degree and I have been considering Oxford as a possible choice. Would this be a conceivable 'upgrade'? Surrey is a pretty good uni, but until I had a mental breakdown during my AS levels I was always more than 'pretty good'. If it is possible, how would I be able to raise my chances of acceptance?
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PQ
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(Original post by Nesgul)
Hi,

It might be a little early to start thinking about this but I am an English Literature and Creative Writing student at the University of Surrey and I really want to stay in education and work in academia after uni. I am pretty good at English, getting 99% at A2 and a first in every assignment so far. Therefore, my aspirations are high when thinking about a Master's degree and I have been considering Oxford as a possible choice. Would this be a conceivable 'upgrade'? Surrey is a pretty good uni, but until I had a mental breakdown during my AS levels I was always more than 'pretty good'. If it is possible, how would I be able to raise my chances of acceptance?
About half of applicants to postgrad English at Oxford get an offer so your chances are pretty good: https://www.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxf...le_amended.pdf

Oxford welcome applications from other universities so if you can keep up the good marks you should be fine. Mention that you're thinking of an academic career to your tutor at your next tutorial and ask them for advice on any opportunities there might be to boost your CV.
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Nesgul
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(Original post by PQ)
About half of applicants to postgrad English at Oxford get an offer so your chances are pretty good: https://www.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxf...le_amended.pdf

Oxford welcome applications from other universities so if you can keep up the good marks you should be fine. Mention that you're thinking of an academic career to your tutor at your next tutorial and ask them for advice on any opportunities there might be to boost your CV.
Thanks for the help
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QHF
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(Original post by Nesgul)
It might be a little early to start thinking about this but I am an English Literature and Creative Writing student at the University of Surrey and I really want to stay in education and work in academia after uni.
I apologise if you're already on top of what I'm about to say, but in case you're not… Bear in mind that academia is a very competitive and pressured career path: most people who set out to become academics don't succeed. Academics spend a lot of time on administration, pastoral work, funding applications and so on besides just research and teaching, so besides intellectual brilliance and an appetite for hard work, you also need patience, people skills and a certain amount of bloody-minded stubbornness.

I don't say this to dissuade you. Postgraduate study and a research career can be very fulfilling! But I think you should choose to go into academia, if you do choose to go into it, with a clear-eyed sense of the very real-world challenges that exist inside the academy just as they do outside it. Then you will be better equipped to surmount them, and you'll have a lower chance of becoming embittered.

So definitely make sure you talk to the people who are teaching you at Surrey and get their advice.

(Original post by Nesgul)
I am pretty good at English, getting 99% at A2 and a first in every assignment so far. Therefore, my aspirations are high when thinking about a Master's degree and I have been considering Oxford as a possible choice. Would this be a conceivable 'upgrade'?
Oxford, and most master's courses in English in general, tend not to weigh institutional reputations too heavily when sorting through master's applicants. Usually the majority of students on each MSt course there are from places other than Oxford, including all sorts of British institutions, and tiny liberal arts colleges in the US that one's heard of.

(Original post by Nesgul)
If it is possible, how would I be able to raise my chances of acceptance?
First of and foremost of course you need to continue to excel on your BA course. If the BA course at Surrey has a final-year dissertation component which is optional rather than compulsory, make sure you choose to do a dissertation when the time comes to sort out what you're doing in your third year: the undergraduate dissertation is usually someone's first chance to demonstrate their ability to carry out independent research. You might want to think about which period and cluster of approaches within the discipline of English might be where you want to specialise.

Oxford are likely to be interested in candidates who are not only good but also good at particular things which complement the strengths of the English Faculty there. So, for example, if you look at their different MSt courses, you will see that there is a substantial quasi-compulsory bibliography/book history component across their periods. That's one area of strength for them, and you could work out others. Basically, you want to be a candidate who has good specific reasons for applying to study at Oxford, rather than just 'Because it's Oxford'.

And indeed you may find that the best place to do a master's in whatever corner of English you wind up focusing on isn't Oxford—if you find that a suspiciously large number of the academics working in whatever field you feel is yours did their postgraduate study somewhere else, then look into wherever that somewhere else is.
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Nesgul
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(Original post by QHF)
I apologise if you're already on top of what I'm about to say, but in case you're not… Bear in mind that academia is a very competitive and pressured career path: most people who set out to become academics don't succeed. Academics spend a lot of time on administration, pastoral work, funding applications and so on besides just research and teaching, so besides intellectual brilliance and an appetite for hard work, you also need patience, people skills and a certain amount of bloody-minded stubbornness.

I don't say this to dissuade you. Postgraduate study and a research career can be very fulfilling! But I think you should choose to go into academia, if you do choose to go into it, with a clear-eyed sense of the very real-world challenges that exist inside the academy just as they do outside it. Then you will be better equipped to surmount them, and you'll have a lower chance of becoming embittered.

So definitely make sure you talk to the people who are teaching you at Surrey and get their advice.



Oxford, and most master's courses in English in general, tend not to weigh institutional reputations too heavily when sorting through master's applicants. Usually the majority of students on each MSt course there are from places other than Oxford, including all sorts of British institutions, and tiny liberal arts colleges in the US that one's heard of.



First of and foremost of course you need to continue to excel on your BA course. If the BA course at Surrey has a final-year dissertation component which is optional rather than compulsory, make sure you choose to do a dissertation when the time comes to sort out what you're doing in your third year: the undergraduate dissertation is usually someone's first chance to demonstrate their ability to carry out independent research. You might want to think about which period and cluster of approaches within the discipline of English might be where you want to specialise.

Oxford are likely to be interested in candidates who are not only good but also good at particular things which complement the strengths of the English Faculty there. So, for example, if you look at their different MSt courses, you will see that there is a substantial quasi-compulsory bibliography/book history component across their periods. That's one area of strength for them, and you could work out others. Basically, you want to be a candidate who has good specific reasons for applying to study at Oxford, rather than just 'Because it's Oxford'.

And indeed you may find that the best place to do a master's in whatever corner of English you wind up focusing on isn't Oxford—if you find that a suspiciously large number of the academics working in whatever field you feel is yours did their postgraduate study somewhere else, then look into wherever that somewhere else is.
Hi. Thank you so much for this! You have made me more sure that this is the field that I should go into. Also, book history is really interesting to me, so Oxford sounds great. Also I am definitely doing the dissertation, I already can't wait for it. Obviously I still need to experiment with different genres and periods and see which is my favourite, but, honestly, I am really looking forward to my future, paperwork and all. 😊
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