Studying at a university is an enhancing but often challenging experience. Sometimes, you might feel you have had enough of university and cannot wait to finish your undergraduate degree. On the other hand, postgraduate study is a great way to prolong your student life and gain in-depth knowledge in the area of your interest. I am a 2020 Finance graduate from the University of Aberdeen, and I started studying MSc Investment Banking and Finance at the University of Glasgow in September 2020. Here are 5 differences and 5 similarities that I have noticed whilst pursing postgraduate study in Finance.
1. Programme length In Scotland, undergraduate degree lasts 4 years. Postgraduate degree is shorter, it usually takes 12 months to complete (3 semesters).
2. Fees For EU/UK students, postgraduate programmes are more expensive and have to paid in full or in installments.
3. Programme specification and Course choice Postgraduate study is more focused on a specific area and offers students an in-depth knowledge in this area. E.g. Investment banking, Risk management etc. Moreover, there is a lot of optional courses to choose from which is not the case with undergraduate. During undergraduate, I never had the chance to choose from optional courses. All of my courses were compulsory.
4. Student background Most undergraduate students on a course study towards the same degree as you. This means that you have most of the courses together and these students will immediately become your friends, as you will meet each other next years on the same courses. However, postgraduate students usually study different areas of finance and therefore there is low chance to meet your friends from a course in next semester as both of you will probably have different courses.
5. Tense From my own experience, postgraduate courses are more loaded. For example, I studied “Options and derivatives” for a whole semester during my undergraduate but during postgraduate, options and derivatives are just one fifth of one course. There’s definitely more material to go through!
1. Lectures and tutorials Lectures and tutorials are usually taught once per week. The only difference I noticed is that now they take place online. But in general, undergraduate and postgraduate lectures and tutorials are taught in the same way.
2. In-course assessments and exams In-course assessments can take on different forms such as multiple-choice test, online test, essay, assignment and so on. Together with the final exams, they are of the same nature as the assessments during my undergraduate study.
3. Self-study On every course, lecturers and tutors expect you to devote a substantial amount of your off-school time into self-study. It is up to you how much time you spend learning. But as with the undergraduate, the same holds with the postgraduate. The longer and more effectively you study on your own, the higher grades you get.
4. Dissertation As a Finance student I am required to conduct a quantitative research and the required structure of the dissertation is absolutely the same as my undergraduate dissertation.
5. Academic staff Lecturers, tutors, supervisors and administration stuff are always there for you. Always willing to discuss your concerns, help you and guide. I believe this applies to any degree programme.
Studying both, undergraduate and postgraduate degree has been challenging but pleasant and enriching experience. I am happy I decided to study master's degree and extend my student life :) Although it has been very different in the past year as the university is online due to Covid-19 pandemic, it is truly amazing what people can achieve from their rooms despite the circumstances. Good luck and we hope to welcome you to the university to Glasgow soon. Stay healthy and safe!