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Postgraduate Study Modes

There are a lot of decisions to be made when it comes to postgraduate study. Once you’ve decided on a subject, it’s time to investigate your postgraduate study modes. Each course format suits different people with different needs…

Full-time study…

Ah yes, the luxury (or nightmare for some) of full-time study. The majority of postgraduate students give up full-time work to focus completely on their studies. This usually means an intense year of lectures, seminars, assessments, reports, a hefty dissertation/research project, and sometimes a short placement too. If it’s an MRes (a Research Masters), then you’ve got a whole year of independent study ahead of you. With so much information to take in, it’s no wonder many students choose to dedicate the bulk of their time to their chosen course.

Full-time study at postgraduate level is particularly those who have just finished an undergraduate degree and plan to dive straight into postgraduate study. There is the advantage of being able to see your course tutors on a regular basis, face-to-face, to discuss anything you’re having difficulties with and to pinpoint your progress accurately.

However, be aware that this can be a pricy year! You’ll have to cough up the tuition fees up front before you begin your course (unfortunately there’s no government funding available for postgraduate business and finance courses, so you’ll have to fund it yourself or earn a scholarship), and full-time study doesn’t leave much room for salary-earning work on the side. You’ll need to consider your funding options carefully if you’re keen to take on the full-time study option.  

This study mode will usually last between one and two years.

Part-time study…

If full-time study won’t work for you for whatever reason, whether it’s the cost or family or work commitments, then perhaps a part-time postgraduate course will work for you.

Part-time courses still allow you to get the face-to-face tutoring and interaction with fellow course mates you may feel you need to succeed on your postgraduate programme, but they have the added bonus of a touch of flexibility if a full-time course just isn’t possible.

Part-time students are by no means slacking off! The content covered is exactly the same and the same assessments are involved; it’s all just stretched out over a longer period of time, with fewer days per week dedicated to lecture/seminar attendance and study, usually around two days a week. This means you could keep working alongside your studies and/or attend to any other responsibilities you have – hopefully without too much disruption!

The part-time study mode will take a little longer to complete. A standard one-year full-time course usually takes around two years in a part-time format.

Distance learning/online learning…

Last, but not least, distance learning is growing in popularity as a postgraduate study mode. Your study materials and lectures will all be delivered to you online via a virtual learning environment which allows you to fit in your studies remotely alongside your work and other responsibilities.

A couple of courses in this study mode may require a few days of on-campus attendance, but for the most part all of your study, assessments and feedback will be carried out and submitted online with the support of an online tutor from the university.

Your course options for this study mode are a little more limited currently, but expect to see the course list grow rapidly as this study mode further establishes itself as a standard pathway for postgraduates. 

By Jos Weale, Editor,

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