Q. I've finished the first three years of my five-year medicine degree, but now feel that I don't want to be a doctor. However, I am attracted to working in the healthcare system somewhere. What Masters and/or PhD options could you suggest that might take me down a related career path?

A. ongratulations on completing three demanding years of study. You say that you don't want to be a doctor any longer, so I wonder what has made you change your mind? Perhaps length of study comes into it, or maybe you've realised your interests and skills are concerned more with research or management than patient contact.

The reasons for your change of mind are crucial in deciding on an alternative career, and you need to think about these before talking to your tutor or careers adviser and finding out if your medical school credits are transferable. Give a lot of thought to the implications of leaving your course without going the distance. Talk to young doctors to see if they had similar feelings at the same stage. You might opt to soldier on and consider other options once you've qualified.

I'm in my second year of a history degree, and like the academic atmosphere so much that I want to continue to study after I finish, but have no idea about the funding arrangements for Masters and PhD courses. Can you give me a few pointers please?

It's a good idea to start thinking about further study early, so you'll be ready to apply in the autumn of your final year.

Generally, there are more sources of funding for PhDs than Masters, and all potential funding channels require applicants to explain their choice of course, outline their research ideas and present good academic reasons why they should receive financial assistance.

For both types of course, some money is likely to be available in the university department, and this is awarded on a competitive basis. So when it's gone, it's gone. Beyond the universities, the research councils also give out a limited amount of funds on an annual basis. Closing dates vary, but are usually between February and May of the year you intend to start your course.

In your case, go to the Arts and Humanities Research Council website (www.ahrc.ac.uk ) to find out more. There are also charities and trusts which make small awards each year. You can use directories such as the Educational Grants Directory or the Directory of Grant-Making Trusts to trace these. They are available in most careers centres, and university and public reference libraries.

These places may also give you free access to a web-based service that unearths possible grants. See www.funderfinder.org.uk for more details.

Q. I'm thinking of doing a PGCE to train as a teacher at the end of my first degree, but would also like to get a Masters-level qualification before too long. Is there a way to get a Masters during a teaching career?

A. For many years, a proportion of experienced teachers have acquired a Masters degree while continuing their school career. Some have done this by taking a year off for full-time study, but, more recently, many have continued working, and fitted the study and essay-writing around the job. But this can make for a large workload. In all cases, the subject matter is education, often with a dissertation based on a classroom or school topic of interest. Schools and local authorities are keen to cooperate and often give substantial help with fees.

But recently the Government has introduced a system whereby teachers can set out on the path to getting a Masters in their first year of teaching. This qualification is called the Masters in Teaching and Learning. It is administered by the Training and Development Agency for Schools. The system is being phased in, and eligibility currently depends on where you are in the country and what sort of school you start working in. See www.tda.gov.uk/teachers/ mtl for details.

Thanks to Liz Hagger and Gill Sharp, careers consultants for Domino Careers (www.dominocareers.co.uk). Send your queries to Steve McCormack at steve.mcc@virginmedia.com

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