Postgraduate Life from a Student’s Perspective

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This week we have a wonderful guest blogger, Alyssa, who studied with us here in the School of Social and Political Science twice! I asked Alyssa to give some insight in what postgraduate life was like for her. She has an especially interesting insight as she came back into education after working. Hopefully this gives some of our lovely incoming postgraduate students an idea of what their life could be like come September! Remember that the University of Edinburgh produces a Postgraduate guide for incoming students, so does our student union, EUSA and that there are lots of resources for new students available from the International Office.  Here is Alyssa’s blog:

After taking a three year gap upon completion of my undergraduate degree in Washington, D.C., I made the decision to quit my job at a non-government, non-profit organisation in the States, to undertake a postgraduate degree, a Master of Public Policy (MPP) which is administered through the Academy of Government in the School of Social and Political Science. This decision, although risky at the time, was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I previously studied abroad at the University of Edinburgh as a visiting undergraduate student. I loved the country and the people the first time around so I thought I would have an advantage having lived in Edinburgh before. The people are still friendly and the country is still beautiful, but coming back as a mature postgraduate student is completely different to undergraduate studies. First off, the classes are much smaller, and there is a greater expectation on students to write at a higher and more rigorous academic standard. Being out of formal education for a couple of years meant that I wasn’t as comfortable and used to writing academic papers, much like my colleagues who continued on to the Master’s degree straight after their undergraduate degree. However, my time outside of formal education meant that I had a couple of years to explore the workplace and to figure out what I wanted to do and what type of postgraduate degree would be the best vehicle for me to achieve my personal and career aspirations. Throughout the duration of my postgraduate degree, I learned so much about research, policy, and practice, and I was given many opportunities to explore new interests and further develop my passion for higher education. A capstone project, comprising of a professional internship and a master’s thesis, provided me with invaluable industry experience. This is a unique component to the MPP as compared to the typical 12 month MSc. The MPP is a 15 month degree, to allow students to undertake an internship as part of their degree programme.

Here is Alyssa and her wonderful MPP classmates at the Scottish Parliament and at a social event!

Here is Alyssa and her wonderful MPP classmates at the Scottish Parliament and at a social event!

Upon completion of my postgraduate degree, I was hired by the University of Edinburgh as an Admissions Project Officer for the Applicant Experience strand of the Student Experience Project. My postgraduate degree from the School of Social and Political Science provided me with the skills to be selected for this job and to feel confident and successful in this role. Before starting my postgraduate degree, I felt that my career had hit a roadblock. I was bored and not in a place to progress. Now I feel that the sky is the limit. I constantly feel challenged and professionally gratified. For anyone who is considering postgraduate study, I would say “do it,” but do your homework first. Make sure you are making an informed choice and that you are completing the right degree, at the right time, and at a university that is suited to your needs. For me, it was the Master of Public Policy at Edinburgh.


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