Making the most of your postgraduate studies
Opportunities for making the most out of your postgraduate study, including how to get work-related experience.
Why should you get involved?
Getting involved in wider opportunities available across the University and in the local community will equip you with skills and experiences – both academic and non-academic - that can contribute to your academic and career success. There are opportunities to do this remotely and on campus so do not be concerned if you are not in Edinburgh. It will also increase your confidence and enlarge your network of academic and non-academic connections. UK graduate employers are often as interested in extra-curricular activities as in academic achievements, so it’s worth exploring and making the most of what is available. You may also want to look at the information in participating and getting your voice heard.
Strengthen your academic skills
Studying at a postgraduate level requires a high degree of independent learning, including self-directed reading, critical analysis and research skills. These are all likely to be of value in your future career, so engage actively with your studies and use the resources available for academic development (such as support from academic staff or your personal tutor, workshops, online resources and study consultations).
There is further information on this website on strengthing academic skills, such as academic writing, critical thinking, and dissertation planning, and there are additional resources offered by the Institute for Academic Development (IAD).
Gain work-related experience
If you do not have a lot of work experience or would like to gain experience in a different career area or industry, explore opportunities for part-time or voluntary work. This will not only equip you with new skills but also give you a better sense of what you want from a career – and it will look good in future job applications. If you are a non-native speaker of English, work experience may be one of the easiest ways to practise and improve your spoken English. This can make you feel more confident about contributing to academic discussions, and strengthen your application if you hope to find work in the UK after graduation.
If you are in Edinburgh the Careers Service advertises part-time jobs on MyCareerHub.
For volunteering opportunities, check out Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) website.
You may also want to consider doing a work-based dissertation, working on a real-world project for an employer instead of a more traditional academic dissertation, if this is possible. Find out if this is an option on your programme by talking to your course director.
You can find out more about work-based dissertations on the Making the Most of Masters (MMM) website.
Meet employers and find out about graduate jobs
The Careers Service organises events such as careers fairs (which may cover a wide range of career areas or focus on specific sectors) and individual employer presentations. Many of these are online events so students who are not in Edinburgh can also attend. These events provide a great opportunity to speak to employers and recent graduates about career areas that interest you or suitable graduate job opportunities.
Peak employer activity on campus is from September to December (Semester one), so plan ahead to make sure you don’t miss anything interesting. A full programme of events is available on the events section of MyCareerHub. New events are added regularly throughout the academic year.
Get involved in student societies or student representation
The University of Edinburgh, through the Students' Association, has a system of class representatives who represent their fellow students to ensure that student issues are conveyed to academic and support staff to improve the student experience and postgraduate student representation is important.
The Students’ Association also has a large number of student-led societies covering a wide range of academic, cultural, charitable, sports-related and other interests.
Taking advantage of such opportunities enables you develop your skills in areas such as teamwork, communication, negotiation and leadership (all valued by employers), and may give you a stronger feeling of belonging to the University or its postgraduate student community.
Learn from researchers
The University of Edinburgh is a research-led institution, and Schools and departments offer talks and seminars by researchers from the University and across the world. Attending such seminars online or in person will familiarise you with recent research in your subject area as well as perspectives from researchers outside your discipline, and encourage you to think about your academic work in new ways. Make sure you keep up to date with the seminar programme in your School and in other parts of the University that may interest you.