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Student Life

Managing the transition from Undergraduate to Master’s study

Two students walk towards the Arches on Newcastle University's campus on a sunny day

Choosing to study a Master’s programme can appear intimidating. But, while there are some differences worth mentioning, looking back I can say that I was probably way too worried as a prospective student. So, to spare you some unnecessary stress, I’m going to share with you some of the things that I wish someone would have told me before I arrived in Newcastle.

Improve your time management

A clock on a wall

I’m not going to lie, the workload is intense. And especially right now that we’re working with online learning, time management is a must. Coming from Spain, where undergraduate and postgraduate degrees usually comprise 60 credits per year, completing a total of 160 credits in 12 months seemed rather challenging to say the least. However, I will also say that it is definitely attainable, you just need to make sure that you don’t lose track of what you’re doing, and you’ll manage to get through.

Personally, I am someone who gets distracted pretty easily, so I find it very useful to develop a realistic schedule that I can stick to and create a routine for myself. This allows me to keep up with my lectures and have enough time to prepare for my seminars as well.

Get comfortable with essay writing

A person types an essay at a laptop

As an international student, I was used to a different methodology during my classes. In Spain, most programmes do not make a distinction between seminars and lectures, we follow a blended approach instead, in which we have three hours of classes per course with mandatory attendance. Moreover, the majority of courses also follow what we call “continuous evaluation”, which means that your final marks come from different assignments and exams.

In International Marketing, however, courses are scheduled differently. Students do not have seminars every week, so class hours usually vary depending on the week, and most courses are based on assignments as opposed to exams, which are mainly essays or reports. This was something I definitely had to get more used to, as I never had been assessed only through individual research projects. So, if you’re someone who’s not very familiar with essay writing, I would say this is something you probably want to look into.

You don’t have to do this on your own though, the University has plenty of resources and support to guide you through your courses, especially as an international student. For instance, there is a department named RISE, which provides language support via proofreading sessions and offers modules on essay writing techniques.

Don’t overstress about your educational background

The text 'breathe' in fluorescent pink writing on a background of green foliage.

I didn’t have a background in business, as I graduated in English and French as an Undergraduate. I remember being absolutely terrified thinking all of my classmates would outsmart me. I thought I wouldn’t be able to survive my course as I didn’t really have any prior knowledge of marketing.

Well, I was wrong.

There’s nothing to worry about, and if you’re anything like me, I cannot emphasise this enough. Conversion programmes are there to introduce you to the subject of your choice and although having a business background can help, you will acquire all the necessary skills.

Again, it is a pretty fast-paced programme, but there’s no need to stress about your background at all. In fact, you’re going to encounter classmates from many different disciplines. This is particularly great during seminars, as everybody can give a different point of view to the discussions and help each other see things from a different perspective.

Talk to former students

Three students talk on a group of sofas

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get all possible information about any degree you might be interested in, even if you think that your questions are stupid. Personally, I found this extremely useful to help make up my mind about the programme that I wanted to apply for as well.

Asking people that studied something that you are interested in, especially from Newcastle University, even inquiring people that work in a position that you would like to pursue, can be of great help. It can give you some really good feedback and a realistic approach to the courses and what to expect during your time at university.

For example, Unibuddy is a great tool to use as it allows you to chat with current students and get real insights about your programme of interest.

In short, starting a Master’s degree might seem really intimidating in the beginning. Even though the program can get more demanding, as long as you try your best to keep up with your classes and aren’t afraid to ask for support if you need it, I’m sure you’ll be more than fine.

Thinking about postgraduate study? Attend our in-person Master’s Open Day on 8 June 2022. Register now.

Andrea studied International Marketing Msc at Newcastle University Business School 2020-2021.

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