An Insider’s Guide to Part-Time Study

First written for postgrad.com

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This piece was first written for postgrad.com. It is different to my usual writing and can hopefully be helpful to those thinking of part time study.

 

The number of people enrolling on university courses has been increasing year on year, and this has had a knock on effect on postgraduate study. More and more students are undertaking postgraduate study to improve their job prospects, potential earnings and to enjoy further study. For postgraduate students part-time study can be a particularly attractive option. It allows students to work throughout their studies, which is useful for those funding their own studies or for people juggling family commitments whilst attempting to further their position at work with additional certification.

Undertaking my masters in program  was a rewarding and interesting experience, however there are many aspects that are not advertised in the prospectus. With this insider’s guide I hope to share the information I gained and point out the things that I wish I’d have known beforehand. All things considered though I must say that for those with multiple commitments it is a good way to fit study around your life, although excellent organisational and time management skills are a must!

For research Masters or PHDs there tends to be more flexibility with more universities embracing online study. The Universities of Nottingham and Oxford, and the Open University, are leading the way in distance learning with the majority of work being done online, supplemented with Skype meetings and often short day or weekend study sessions. For those balancing a full-time job with their postgraduate studies, this can give you the chance to undertake study, and also to take your learning and apply it in a practical way to your working life.

Part-time study allowed me to undertake work experience at the same time; gaining the skills and network needed to move into the working environment. The first summer term can be spent undertaking seasonal work or internships, safe in the knowledge that there will still be plenty of time to focus on one’s dissertation. Many businesses and organisations offer summer internship schemes that the part-time student can avail of. Furthermore this can be a handy way to get work experience that will be relevant to your desired career path.

Traditional academic subjects such as the sciences however seem to be much slower to adapt to any form of flexible learning. Speak to your course coordinator before applying to find out how flexible your desired course actually is. Traditional academic subjects such as History and English literature tend to divide up their part-time courses thus: the taught modules to be completed in the first year, and the deadline for the final dissertation/thesis at the end of the second year. Will this accommodate current work commitments? Will you be able to attend weekday seminars during the first year? Without the time pressure and group environment of a one-year course will you be able to maintain self-discipline to complete all course work?

The price of postgraduate study has been slowly increasing. Some part-time courses are now more expensive than full time. Comparisons of costs can be seen if you look at these two examples, a full-time University of Exeter History masters degree costs £7,500 or £3,750 per year part time which equates to £7,500 to complete part time. However a full-time University College Dublin History masters degree costs €6,490, or €3,890 per year part time. This makes the total cost of completing the course part time is €7,780. At some universities the price differential is greater. However, the freedom to spread the cost of your tuition fees over two years can be useful. Bear in mind that at present funding for postgraduate study is different to undergraduate and may make it harder for potential students to fund their course. More information can be found in our funding section.

Although many postgrads are entering academia from the workplace, for those interested in moving to a new place there are other factors to consider. For example if you are a part-time student can you still apply for university accommodation? Will you have the same levels of access to services, such as careers counsellors, disability services, sponsored volunteering, health care services or study abroad options? Also will you be able to apply for all of the funding options? Not all bursaries and grants are open to part-time students. Going to university as a postgrad student is about so much more than just studying. It can be a surprise for students to discover that because they are part time they do not have access to the same services and university experience as their full-time counterparts. Contacting the course coordinator and admissions team before applying to conduct thorough research is essential.

Part-time postgraduate courses can be a great option as they help to show that there is no reason for education to end as soon as you enter the workplace. There are options open now for mature students, those changing careers, seeking to get ahead in their chosen career or just those who want to expand their mind by studying something new. If you have the determination then a part-time masters could be exactly what you have been looking for.

 

Top Ten Things To Do If You’re a Postgrad In Dublin

First written for postgrad.com 2016

Recently I have written a few pieces about being a postgraduate student for postgrad.com. Here is my second offering: a top 10 of things to do in Dublin. Hopefully there are a few things that you haven’t previously thought of and there are many ideas for tourists and residents in search of something new!

So you’re going to be a postgraduate student in Dublin. The Irish capital is thriving and has a unique take between new and old. Explore Ireland’s world famous arts and heritage and enjoy the sights and sounds of this ideal postgraduate city.

1. Stroll Around Phoenix Park

This beautiful urban park is one of the largest walled city parks in Europe. It is so big it includes a zoo, Aras an Uachtaráin (the official residence of the President of Ireland), a visitor centre and Ashtown Castle. It’s particularly lovely in springtime when you can lie among the bluebells and wait to spot some of the wild deer that live there.

2. Visit Kilmainham Gaol

First built in 1796, this former prison hosted some of the most infamous and momentous events of twentieth century Irish history. Visit this museum to see where revolutionaries such as Patrick Pearse and James Connolly were held after their attempt to overthrow the British administration in Ireland with the 1916 Easter Rising. The site where they were summarily tried and executed will send shivers down your spine.

3. Eat Murphy’s Ice Cream

Now is your chance to indulge in the legendary caramelised brown bread ice cream that Murphy’s parlour is famous for. Often voted the best in Ireland, no stay in Dublin is complete without a trip to this Donegal import. Sample every flavour under the sun when relaxing between seminars.

4. Catch A Game At Croke Park

Although rugby is the nation’s game, at Croke Park you can also see the very best of Gaelic football and hurling. For the uninitiated hurling looks like a cross between football and quidditch, but is unfailingly exhilarating and entertaining. One weekend take to the stands and cheer on the Dubs!

5. Enjoy Seafood In Howth

Howth is a picturesque fishing village on the North side of Dublin. Work up an appetite walking along the cliffs before taking your pick of the dozens of fish restaurants. Where else can you look out over the harbour while eating Dublin bay prawns fresh from the sea?

6. Trawl Temple Bar

Usually the first stop for tourists Temple Bar is still well worth a visit. If possible go in spring or autumn when you can enjoy the live music, daytime book markets and food markets. Take the time to explore the record shops selling vinyl classics at bargain prices. Visit one of the many theatre or galleries that pepper the area and enjoy a pint of the black stuff as the sun goes down.

7. Indulge In Historical Drinking

An alternative to Temple Bar, visit the oldest pub in the city. Established in 1198 the Brazen Head is a chance to step back in time. Each night there is something different from Irish storytellers, live music and extensive food and drink menus. When you have settled in this is the perfect place to bring visitors and impress them with your local knowledge.

8. Check Out Trinity College Dublin

The official guided tour of the Elizabethan college includes entry to the Books of Kells and Old Library – which is also home to the first printing of the Irish Proclamation. Starting at the front gate, which took pride of place in the Oscar winning film Educating Rita, take a trip through the interesting, bizarre and unique world of Ireland’s oldest university.

9. Spend Christmas Eve On Grafton Street

The main shopping throughway in Dublin attracts people from all over the country to do their Christmas shopping. The Christmas lights are beautiful with a large tree lit up before the entrance of Stephens Green Park. Grafton Street is also famous for its buskers. Wandering along you can hear Irish chart toppers, classical choirs and acoustic love songs. On December 24th each year a celebrity busking session for charity frequently includes Bono, Hozier, Damien Rice and Glen Hansard.

10. Enjoy Festivals

One of the lesser known facts about Dublin is that there is a festival for everything. At almost any time of the year you can attend a festival. One of the highlights of the calendar is the annual Drac Fest which pays homage to Dracula, written by one of the cities famous sons: Bram Stoker. October Fest is always great fun, as are the Christmas markets found on the Docklands and in theatre and Cathedral crypts.

 

Top 10 Things To Do If You’re A Postgrad In Oxford

First written for postgrad.com blog 2016

Recently I have written a few pieces about being a postgraduate student for postgrad.com. Here is my first offering: a top 10 of things to do in Oxford, UK. Hopefully there are a few things that you haven’t previously thought of and there are many ideas for tourists and residents in search of something new!

Top 10 Things To Do If You’re A Postgraduate Student In Oxford

So you have made it to the city of the dreaming spires and are about to embark on the most fulfilling academic projects to date – a postgrad program at the University of Oxford or Oxford Brookes University. But in amongst the hustle and bustle of student life in this glorious city you need to make sure you have time to relax and explore the historic streets of Oxford.

Here are our top 10 things to do in Oxford.

1. Punting

Hire a traditional punt for you and your friends, then lie back and enjoy the feeling of floating down the river without a care in the world. You could even treat yourself with a chauffeured punt and tuck into a picnic, keep going until the sun is about to set. This is the most relaxing day you can possibly have in Oxford.

2. The Divinity School

With your university pass you will have a rare opportunity to visit some of the most extraordinary places in the country. The Divinity School, a part of the Bodleian Library, the Sheldonian Theatre and All Souls College Chapel are some of the highlights. For fans of gothic architecture these are not to be missed.

3. The Covered Market

The Covered Market is, as the title suggests, an indoor market. Located just off Market Street, it has been open since 1774, although it’s image has changed somewhat over the years. This is where Nigella Lawson stocked up on basics when she was a student at Oxford, but now it is home to more boutique stalls offering vintage clothing, jewellery, artwork and flowers. However, there is still a smattering of food stalls and gentle surprises that make sure this becomes a regular haunt for all those staying in the city.

4. C S Lewis Nature Reserve

Oxford is one of those rare UK cities with ample green spaces. Nearly all of the colleges have their own gardens, but it’s outside of the centre that you’ll find one of the city’s secret treasures. The woodland that once belonged to writer and scholar C S Lewis is now open to the public. This urban wilderness is indescribably beautiful and includes a tranquil pond and many unusual plants and wildlife. It is said that CS Lewis wandered around this woodland while writing his beloved Narnia novels. Hopefully inspiration will find you too.

5. Blenheim Palace

Blenheim is still home to the 12th Duke of Marlborough and his family. The palace was originally intended to reward the first Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, for his military triumphs against the French and Bavarians in the War of the Spanish Succession. Embedded deep in the Oxfordshire countryside, Blenheim Palace and grounds provide the perfect backdrop for any celebration or even a relaxing evening wandering through the park and gardens, stopping off at the variety of cafes on the way. The UNESCO world heritage site is also of note as the birthplace and final resting place of Sir Winston Churchill.

6. Christ Church College

Christ Church is the only college that is also a Cathedral. Home of the patron saint of Oxford Saint Frideswide, the main hall, which was used in the Harry Potter films, will take your breath away. Paintings and artworks that defined the Tudor era adorn the walls. This is a rare chance to get up close and personal to history. It is incredible to think that over the centuries students have dined in this place, under the watchful gaze of Thomas Cromwell and Elizabeth I.

7. Oxford Castle and Castle Mount

Oxford Castle is the one of the top tourist spots. The old gaol and castle have been converted into a museum that includes tales of darkness, daring do and ghosts! The mount outside is free to explore. If you climb to the top it gives you one of the best views of the city from all sides. Here you can look out over not just the centre and the dreaming spires, but also the south and west of the city that has developed and changed drastically over the centuries.

8. Christmas Markets and Vintage Fairs

Oxford attracts some of the country’s best fairs and markets. From the annual chocolate fair and Christmas market, held in Gloucester Green bus station, to multiple food markets throughout the year. At Oxford’s many markets you will be able to taste foods from all over the world, including Italian delicacies, crocodile burgers and boutique chocolates that melt in the mouth. Bon appetite. Follow this up by rummaging around one of the vintage fairs held regularly in the remarkable Town Hall.

9. Historic Drinking Dens

A Top 10 list wouldn’t be complete without a pub recommendation or two and Oxford has much to offer the casual drinker or pub-crawler, with its historic drinking dens offering a unique drinking experience. You can go to the Turf Tavern where Morse and Lewis pondered their mysteries before moving on to 13th century pub The Bear, one of the oldest pubs in the city, before finishing at The Eagle and Child a favourite haunt of C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien.

10. Make use of the great transport links

If you feel the need to get out of Oxford for the day it’s really quick and easy to jump on a bus or train to London or Reading. If it’s shopping you’re after, or even a trip to London’s West End they are all in easy reach with the added benefit that you will be able to make it back in time for morning tutorials.