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

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

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software Developer

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Software Developer i...

AER Teachers: Graduate Primary TA - West London - Autumn

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: The school is seeking gra...

AER Teachers: Graduate Secondary TA - West London

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: The school is seeking gra...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Surrey - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Croy...

SPONSORED FEATURES

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones