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

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

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Executive / Marketing Assistant

£18 - 23k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Executive / Assistant is n...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider to the fa...

Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Analyst - Global ERP Implementation - London

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful & reputable global business is l...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue