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What to do with your end-of-Masters freedom

In the next month or so, your year's worth of dissertation hell will be over. Harriet Williamson has a few ideas on how to fill your time
  • @harriepw

By early to mid-September, most of the Masters dissertations for humanities will be bound, printed and submitted, and the course completed. You will be a 'Master of Something' with a winter graduation to look forward to. The end.

To me, it all seems rather final and frightening, so I decided to compile a list of things to do, some practical and others simply to celebrate. At times it might feel as if summer has been withheld, only available to undergrads who have long dispensed with their final exams, but fear not! September/early October offers plenty of opportunities for CV-building, quick getaways and general hay-making, and after wrestling with a dissertation for four months, stressing and sweating over it, this might be exactly what you need.

Ibiza closing parties

For those who want a taste of real madness, the White Isle is the place to be. The closing events continue into early October and although entry to clubs is expensive (not going to lie here), the Ibiza experience is unique in its embrace of the flashiest and tackiest elements of holiday debauchery. Surely there is no better antidote to four months in front of a laptop screen, attempting to understand Foucault?

Hampstead & Highgate Literary Festival

For the literary-minded, the festival boasts over 60 events, including writing workshops, lectures, interviews, book sales and signings. It runs from 15-17 September and Ruby Wax, Tracy Chevailer and Nick Ross are among the confirmed speakers. I’ve definitely forgotten what it’s like to read something unconnected to my dissertation, so this is a perfect opportunity to reconnect with reading for pleasure, plus students get 10 per cent off all ticket prices.

London Fashion Weekend

I’m a little bit fashion-crazy and unfortunately not famous enough to be given a ringside seat at London Fashion Week between Alexa Chung and Mary Kate Olsen, but the Weekend event is a brilliant way to get a taste of the couture action as a lowly member of the public. The event runs from 19 - 22 September and you can browse new designer picks for cheaper. It’s probably not going to be reasonable prices, but a girl can dream! For £25 you can shop and get a goody bag (a tote by a British designer with stuff in it) which sounds pretty sweet to me!


From 21 September until 6 October the world’s most famous beer festival will be in full swing. What better way to celebrate finishing your Masters than in Munich, with a tankard of beer?

Job applications

On the practical side, dissertation hand-in means that you have the freedom to commit to job applications with renewed vigour. I’m not going to say ‘the job market’s tough right now’ because we’ve heard it so many times that its beginning to sound meaningless, but setting up some work experience is definitely worth the hassle. The Masters alone usually isn’t enough to attract employers, so hone your tea-making skills and start approaching likely institutions or businesses for internship opportunities.

PhD proposals

I found writing a PhD proposal during my Masters year to be supremely difficult, not least because the deadline for funding applications coincided with the hand-in date for two major essays, so the end of dissertation-writing will provide a welcome lull in which to crack the proposal. Making good links with potential supervisors is key and it’s also a good idea to ask to see examples of past proposals. Finishing a lengthy dissertation should allow you to approach the PhD proposal from a position of greater academic confidence and strength.

Whatever you choose to do to celebrate your end of dissertation freedom, remember to ride high on the knowledge that you have completed your most advanced academic challenge thus far. Although, petitioning friends and family to actually read your work might be an even tougher nut to crack!