Case study

International Masters student — Daniela Valdovinos Bedwell

After completing her first Masters degree in Chile and working there for a few years, Daniela sought to broaden her finance knowledge and settled on the MSc Quantitative Finance at Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS) in the UK

Why did you decide to pursue a postgraduate course?

I wanted to develop my theoretical knowledge in finance. During my undergraduate degree, I learned about finance, but I only had three courses in the subject and thought I needed to study it at a higher level to feel more comfortable in a working environment. I also wanted to have the experience of studying in an English-speaking country and working in one after graduation.

What was the application process like?

I had to take the GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) or GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test), an English test (to C1 Advanced level), prepare a statement of purpose and provide recommendation letters.

I had to submit all these documents to the website and answer a few questions.

Why did you choose this course and institution?

I knew I wanted to study a Masters degree in finance, but I wanted it to have a mathematical or engineering focus - as that made more sense with my engineering background.

I applied to a number of different institutions, and decided to study at AMBS because it offered subjects that appealed more than those in other universities. Also, the tuition fees were cheaper than at universities in the United States.

How are you funding your postgraduate study?

I'm a self-financed student. I worked in Chile for two years, as this allowed me to save some money, but it was not enough. I've had to ask my family to lend me money that I will pay back to them next year.

What is the course teaching you that your first degree did not?

I'm studying more advanced topics and their application in the European and American financial markets. It's also teaching me to work with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

Tell us a bit about the course.

The MSc Quantitative Finance is a course that's divided into three semesters. In the first two semesters we study theoretical units - three compulsory and one elective per semester. We learn all the basics of quantitative finance and different models that are important in the real world. The last semester is during the summer when we have to write a dissertation about a topic that we choose from the options provided by our tutors.

How is the course assessed?

I have four courses per semester (one elective) and a dissertation that lasts for three months. The assessments depend on each course - the majority have a final exam, while there's individual and group coursework as well.

How does postgraduate life differ to that of an undergraduate?

Life as a postgraduate student in Manchester is very different from life as an undergraduate in Chile.

Firstly, I live on my own in Manchester, which gives me more independence, but it's also difficult to be on my own, which can be lonely at times.

I have fewer course modules in my Masters degree, which give me more time to study and I'm aware that how much I learn depends totally on me.

Is there anything you wish you'd known before embarking on postgraduate study?

Not really, as this is my second Masters degree, and most of the things related to the postgraduate study have been as expected. I would have liked to know that finding accommodation in Manchester would be very difficult, especially if you want to rent an apartment on your own and you're an international student.

What tips would you give to others choosing postgraduate study in the UK?

  • Be sure you're ready to continue studying. Being a postgraduate student requires a lot of work and personal study time. Unless you're fully focused on studying, it could be better to wait.
  • Consider if this is the right Master degree for you. I'd advise working for a little while after graduation before going down the postgraduate study route. Are you ready to study this subject? It can be difficult to know which course to take until you've started applying some of the key principles in the workplace.
  • Are you prepared for this financial commitment? A Masters degree is expensive, so if you plan to finance the qualification yourself, try to save some money beforehand and not have to borrow too much.

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