Postgraduate queries

 

Q: Do the university ranking organisations consider what life is like for postgraduates?

A: Since the number of undergraduates far outweighs postgrads, it's not surprising, as you hint in your question, that ranking bodies spend more time on measures reflecting life for those taking their first steps in higher education. But that doesn't mean there's nothing in there for potential postgraduates to learn from.

The student experience measure will give you a feel for what it's like living, working and playing at a particular institution, and the measure on performance in the field of research is likely to be a useful general indication for someone contemplating postgraduate study. But the method of judging universities' research performance is changing, with no new findings out until next year, so don't give those measures too much weight.

I'd always advise would-be postgraduate students to use the experience they've already gained in three or more years working towards a first degree, to make judgements about where to go for a Masters or PhD. Above all, steer clear of general findings about a university as a whole and dig deeper into what goes on in the individual subject department you're considering, as well as its past performance.

Q: What can I do with my law degree, other than train to be a solicitor or barrister, and do I need to do postgraduate study?

A: The short answer is that you can do plenty with a law degree. It is respected as an established academic degree that teaches precision with words, critical thinking and a broad range of communication skills – all of which are chips you should be able to cash in when you head for the employment market.

Here I'm thinking of banking, local government, civil service and accountancy, for example. Then there are the areas where argument and advocacy are important and a broad knowledge of the law useful: social work, probation, trading standards and the charity sector.

Once you've chosen which areas to target, you then need to find out which are best pursued by acquiring a postgraduate qualification of some sort – and how to achieve it. In most cases, the best source of up-to-date information will be the professional body linked to the career path in question.

Q: I'm doing a chemistry degree but have now developed an interest in plants and crops. What postgraduate options could I consider?

A: The first observation is that, whatever direction you go in this field, your chemistry degree will always stand you in good stead, although some avenues will probably require you to augment some of the biology you learnt at school.

As far as your course options are concerned, since this is quite a niche area, you don't have a wide choice. A small number of institutions (such as the University of Reading and Writtle College, which is linked to the University of Essex) run Masters in horticulture, which you'd probably veer towards if you were thinking of specialising in crop production (pictured). There's also a handful of programmes that touch on similar territory, such as the MSc in sustainable agriculture and food security at the University of East Anglia and the University of Dundee's research Masters in crops for the future.

Wherever you end up, advancing technology and the politics of ecology will ensure you're involved in a dynamic and at times controversial area.

Send your queries to Steve McCormack at  steve.mcc@virginmedia.com

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: 1st Line IT Support - Surrey - £24,000

£20000 - £24000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Support Helpd...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Audit Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Audit Graduate Opportunities ar...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

FDM Group: Business and Technical IT Consultants – London, Manchester, Glasgow

21,000-24,000: FDM Group: Kick-start your career and join FDM’s award-winning ...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all