Going from a Russell Group to a non-Russell Group for MA?Watch
Need more help on going postgrad?
Generally speaking, uni reputation at postgrad level is often overstated. It's far better - and wiser - to pick the course and dissertation supervisor(s) that would work best for your long-term interests/personal enjoyment.
I did my music undergrad at Oxford but did my MA at Goldsmiths. I could have gone to a "better" uni for my MA, had I wanted to (I did get an offer very quickly post-interview at Royal Holloway, which has one of the best music depts in the UK) but Goldsmiths had a really interesting and innovative approach to studying my areas of musical interest (popular music and ethnomusicology). There were some really cutting-edge modules and my dissertation supervisor at Oxford (one of the biggest UK names in my field) specifically wanted me to work with one of the music profs at Goldsmiths. It was much better suited to me than my undergrad institution had been, and set me up really well for my PhD studies
In interest of full disclosure: I did apply to Oxford's MSt, as well as three PhD programmes in the US (Harvard, Chicago, and NYU) but didn't get into any of them. Oxford were fed up with my pop music malarkey by this point and didn't even interview me But the overall moral of the story remains the same: uni prestige should be secondary to things like funding, dissertation supervisor compatibility, and how the dept fares for your specialist areas of interest
Hello, I’m having a tough time trying to decide which uni I should do my masters at. The subject area I want to do isn’t taught at many RG unis but I went to a RG for my undergrad. Will going to a non RG for my masters impact my job prospects? Also some of the Unis I’m looking at are quite low in league tables. Do league tables and status really matter or not?
Given the nature of the academic job market at the moment, you are just as likely to end up being taught by a RG-educated lecturer at a non-RG university as you would at an RG university - academics move around a lot and some of the best teaching I've received and research that I have read has come from academics currently working in non-RG institutions. That's not to say academics at RG universities aren't fantastic - I'm co-supervised at Manchester because my supervisor there is one of the leading academics in his field - but I find it's a common misconception that choosing a non-RG institution automatically results in lower teaching quality and, in my experience, that simply isn't the case.
There is, undoubtedly, a certain kudos that is attached to the Russell Group - especially in certain fields and career pathways. It's like going to Oxford and Cambridge - the name itself carries weight. And owing to the number of illustrious alumni there will, undoubtedly, also be a bit more money in the pot at some of these institutions for facilities and, possibly, for bursaries and scholarship opportunities. Ultimately however none of this makes any difference to the course content and delivery which, at postgraduate level, is the most important thing.
As The_Lonely_Goatherd has pointed out, it's vitally important to find a course with content that excites you at PG level - you'll be spending a lot of time looking in depth at the topics covered and will then probably go on to specialise based on that content if you move forwards to PhD. So I'd definitely echo their closing advise that university prestige is a secondary consideration to course content, funding, supervisor compatibility, and the research interests and opportunities of a specific university/department.
Hope that helps!