Q: I am doing a media-related first degree and want to undertake a Masters in journalism that will enable me to go on and be a newspaper journalist. However, I have no idea where to even begin with regards to funding.
A: First, I should point out that having a Masters qualification in journalism is no guarantee of a job on a newspaper. It never has been. Most senior people in recruiting positions look for writing ability and experience first, all-round general knowledge and a genuine interest in how the world works second, and academic qualifications third.
But, on the positive side, there are plenty of journalism Masters courses that can help you develop, or hone, these skills. Look at the National Council for the Training of Journalists website (www.nctj.com) for a list of courses, and ask the universities where previous students have gone on to work.
These courses are very popular, and grants and scholarships are scarce. But, for talented and committed students, help does exist. Each university advertises the grants that you can apply for, and where to apply for them, on its website. But you have to be offered a place on a course before you can apply.
Q: I want to do a Masters in international pharma-economics and health economics and have two options: one course takes two years, with a six-month placement, and costs £19,000; the other is far cheaper and I can do it online. How do I assess the credibility of the courses, and how much difference would it make choosing one over the other?
A: Your conundrum will be familiar to thousands of graduates, particularly these days, when cost is such a prominent factor for all students. On the face of it, the first course sounds the better bet in career terms, but don't take anything for granted. As a minimum, you should find out about the placement. Some universities are having trouble securing placements these days, so you should ask where this year's students have gone on their placements, and perhaps talk to one to find out what they are doing. Is it really likely to help secure a job in your chosen field?
Second, you should ask the university for a breakdown of jobs secured by students who've done this Masters course in the past few years. Does that sound like value for money to you? If you ask the same questions of the online course, you may conclude that, as you'll be able to work at least part-time while you're studying at a distance, this may represent the better long-term option for you.
Q: Can you please give me a flavour of the range of sports-related postgraduate courses I can do?
Masters courses with a sports flavour have proliferated in recent years and are very popular. Many go under the general description of sports science, while others give more away about their content in their title. However, there are three broad areas of specialism.
First, there's the study of how the body works and what do to when it goes wrong in some way. This often links to the world of physiotherapy. Second comes the study of how to improve physical performance, linked to the area of coaching in competitive sports.
The third area is linked to the management of sporting facilities, such as leisure centres, or professional clubs. Here there's a heavy dose of business theory included.
Send your queries to Steve McCormack at firstname.lastname@example.org