What is the social life of a postgrad student like?

student posing to camera

All work and no play?

When you’re caught up in all the excitement of your undergraduate degree, postgrad study can look much more serious and sensible.

Many students worry that they’ll go from a constant stream of nights out and socials to being locked away in the library 24/7 when they get to postgrad.

So, will you become a recluse? Or is it possible to balance work and play as a postgrad student? We’ve gathered experiences from members of The Student Room to find out what it’s really like.

How will the postgrad social life differ from my undergrad?

Your postgrad social life will be whatever you want it to be. The main difference is that you can expect to have fewer contact hours – and more independent studying – so you’re even more in charge of your own time.

What might initially look like more ‘free time’ will actually be taken up with research, essays and reading – so it may just take a little more planning to get together with your fellow postgrads and unwind. 

“I found my Master's very social,” says The Student Room member Gutenberg. “We were lucky in that everyone lived in the city where we studied, and we set up a social media group for the class that was very active, organising pub trips etc.

"Friendship groups within the class would also regularly meet for lunches and coffees, but everyone was very friendly and there were no 'cliques'.

"We also had two classes per week all together, and people would often arrange to have lunch together before or after via the class page."

Is it really hard to make friends as a postgrad?

When you're an undergrad, shared experiences such as Freshers' Week and living in halls can mean it's quite easy to make friends.

You won't have those same experiences on a postgrad course, but you might find you benefit from tighter connections with your study groups.

Many postgrads on The Student Room say they have struck up their best friendships with their coursemates, as classes tend to be smaller and more focused. Having the support of your coursemates can also be invaluable when it comes to revising and commiserating over particularly tricky topics.

Craghyrax thinks that with a little effort, you should be able to socialise as much as you like. “Postgrads can be social, but its not automatic like it is on undergraduate programmes," they say. 

"With a lot less contact time/structured classes for many, you can't just expect to meet people automatically like you would have done. But if you put the time into engaging in societies, activities, or going out to parties and popular venues, then it will be social.”

Will I be lonely?

Lots of people worry about loneliness when they're considering postgrad study. But although your door might not be knocking every 10 seconds like it did in undergrad halls, you’ll still have plenty of opportunities to get chatting to people.

The way you socialise is likely to change, with fewer big crazy nights out, but many postgrads find themselves hanging out with coursemates and friends in coffee shops and cafés (which tends to be a little kinder on the wallet too).

“I've found it less drunk, but not less sociable,” says redferry. “I meet friends two or three times a week for lunch/tea/drinks despite being in London and living a bit out the way. Plus I see other friends every other weekend or so.” 

How can I maintain a good work-life balance?

In the absence of a set timetable, your postgrad experience could become an all-or-nothing approach to work. It’s up to you to organise your own time; for most people it will be important to include time for socialising and catching up with friends.

Once you have your friendship group established, it can help to compare your personal schedules and set aside blocks of time to hang out together. If nothing else, it’ll get you away from your laptop for a bit, and can help give you some much-needed space from your studies.

“My Master’s was more sociable than my undergrad, in that I was in a small cohort of five who all got on well," says Klix88. "We socialised a lot during the day, going for lunch and coffee together, and we formed an unofficial mutual support group.

"However we didn't socialise at evenings and weekends. I commuted, another had family responsibilities and someone else had an evening job. In any case, we found that we were doing a lot of academic work during evenings and weekends.”

What does postgrad nightlife look like?

Many members of The Student Room say that they go clubbing less as postgrads, but that doesn’t mean it’s off the table completely. You may find that people are a little busier and it may take more advance planning, but there’s nothing to keep you from your favourite student nights if that’s what you’re into.

“During my Master's I went out two or three nights a week and I also worked - usually around 18 hours a week. It’s all about planning and being organised!” says DeepStar.

Of course, evening ents doesn't have to mean clubbing. University societies are still a great way to find other acitivities to keep you busy in your downtime – and don't assume they're just for undergrads.

"Most (if not all) societies will have second, third and fourth-year undergraduate members as well as freshers. And they'll have masters and PhD students as members too," says martin7. "They are student societies, not undergrad societies," adds threeportdrift.

Our partnership with the University of East Anglia

The Student Room is proud to work with UEA, a UK top-25 university (Complete University Guide 2024) and UK top-30 university (The Times/Sunday Times 2024), as the official partner of our student life section.

Located on the edge of Norwich, a lively city full of secret gems just waiting to be discovered.

Visit their profile page to learn more or join the conversation on The Student Room's UEA forum.

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