Postgraduate Queries: What course offers the best chance of a job in journalism? And can you study football?


Have I got news for you

Have I got news for you

Q. I graduated with a 2:1 in philosophy and English literature. I would like a career in journalism and have begun researching postgraduate courses. Which route - the vocational diploma or the MA - is better in the eyes of future employers? It is hard to get work experience without already having had some experience, and it is difficult to get that initial experience. Is there any way round this?

A. Journalism is a highly competitive field, whether or not you have a postgraduate qualification. There are journalists (like me) who began on local magazines with no formal training and worked their way up to writing for national newspapers. Then (more frequently these days) there are those who complete not just one degree, but two, especially if they want to work in radio or television.

To establish how useful a course is likely to be, check whether it is accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) or the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). Examine the tutors' experience in the field, links to relevant media organisations, potential placements and the fate of alumni.

Some Masters degrees consist mainly of theory. They give an insight into the practice of journalism and the media industry, but they don't offer professional training. According to the NCTJ, few people have ever said that having an MA helped them to get a job as a newspaper journalist.

If money is an issue, consider an accredited fast-track postgraduate programme, which lasts between 18 and 20 weeks and costs as little as £500.

Which university should you choose? The range is vast, from the Department of Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, which has six Masters programmes, to City University, which has a Masters degree in international journalism.

If your aim is primarily to get a job, a PgDip is probably the best option. Central Lancashire's PgDip in newspaper journalism has an excellent employment record for its graduates: of 35 students last year, 32 landed jobs on newspapers and magazines.

There's no getting round the work experience issue: you have to do it. Start with your local newspaper, because you should know the area and may have story ideas. Try fanzines, web pages and community or workplace newsletters. Work experience is important, because it shows you are committed.

You need to learn how (politely) to pester editors. That will give you a good grounding in persistence and determination, skills that every journalist needs.

Match of the day

Q. I've got a good first degree from a well-known university and I'm academically minded. But there is only one thing I'd really like to study, and that's football. My friends say it's impossible to study football at Masters level, let alone PhD. Is this true?

A. Your friends are wrong. Ten years ago, when sports studies programmes kicked off, many regarded them as a bit of a joke. Their image has improved and many can now lead to a good career.

But it is a small market, so you need to research what's out there, and there's more choice if you study football as part of a general sports course. De Montfort University offers an International MA in management, law and humanities of sport (run jointly with universities in Italy and Switzerland), and an MA in sport history and culture.

If you want to focus solely on football, Liverpool University's management school has a football industries MBA, designed to help candidates into jobs in football. You'll need a 2:1 degree (in any discipline, but many have a law background) and usually a minimum of three years' work experience.

Birkbeck College, with its own Football Governance Research Centre, has an MSc in sport management and the business of football. It combines taught courses on the football business with training in management and business organisation. There are even studentships available from the Economic and Social Research Council for those who are combining a Masters and PhD.

With thanks to Gill Sharp and Nan Sherrard, careers consultants at Prospects

caitlind1@aol.com

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SThree: Recruitment Consultant (Trainee / Experienced)

£18000 - £27000 per annum + doe OTE £45K: SThree: SThree are always looking fo...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are a recent psychology graduate ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Graduate Graphic Designer

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Largest Independent Motor D...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own