Case study

Masters student — Christopher Denyer

Christopher studied BSc Biomedical Science at the University of Lincoln followed by the MSc Finance at Lincoln International Business School, which has enabled him to pursue a career in finance

Why did you decide to pursue a postgraduate course?

Although I loved learning about the intricacies of the human body while studying biomedical science, I felt a lack of enjoyment during the laboratory work. This made me rethink my career plans and ambitions, and ultimately led me towards undertaking a postgraduate degree straight after completing my Bachelors degree. I believed this was the best way to achieve my newfound goals.

Why did you choose the MSc Finance course and Lincoln in particular?

I've had an interest in stock markets for some time and have always found it intriguing to learn about important financial events, such as major mergers and acquisitions. These events impact society as a whole. This influenced my decision to consider a finance career and study a Masters in the subject.

After researching many different courses across various universities, I chose the MSc Finance at the University of Lincoln's business school. Not only does the course cover a range of subject areas, it's also designed to be a conversion programme for students with physical or social sciences and/or engineering backgrounds, making it the perfect choice.

I'd already completed my Bachelors degree at Lincoln so had experienced the excellent teaching first hand as well as knowing how the lecturers care about students getting the best possible education. Lincoln is a beautiful and cosy city, and has everything you need within walking distance - it's a great place to live and study.

Describe the course in five words…

Engrossing, satisfying, challenging, rewarding, and memorable.

How did you fund your postgraduate study?

It was through a combination of support from my family and a postgraduate loan.

What did the course involve?

The programme involved studying diverse topics within the fields of finance, accounting and economics. I learned a great deal about corporate finance, such as the process of financial management decision-making within firms plus other key areas like dividend policy and the capital structure of firms.

The economics modules were more quantitative-based as they focused on developing an understanding of the statistical research methods used in primary research. This included the use of Stata, a type of statistical software, and Datastream, a global financial and macroeconomic data provider, to test different kinds of financial models. This allowed for an understanding of topics that wouldn't have been possible through just textbooks. I was unfamiliar with statistical software, but it significantly improved my creative thinking ability due to the seemingly limitless ways that problems could be solved.

The course provided me with a strong foundation in both financial and economic concepts and decision-making. There was also the added bonus of exemptions from parts of courses offered by professional bodies such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

Was the course well-connected to relevant employers?

The finance programme gave me access to a series of career events held by the business school. I got to network with major financial employers and learn more about the types of finance jobs available. I also took the opportunity to join the Lincoln Student Managed Investment Fund (LSMIF) as an analyst. LSMIF is sponsored and advised by professional investment management companies such as Brewin Dolphin and Mattioli Woods. This gave students the chance to work with industry experts and companies you could be employed by in the future. After graduation, I was fortunate enough to land an opportunity to work for one of LSMIF's other sponsors, MB Securities - a perfect example of how well-connected the course is to relevant employers.

How does postgraduate life differ to that of an undergraduate?

One of the biggest differences was there was less time spent inside the classroom than during my undergraduate study. This was beneficial because it allowed more time for the additional reading during my Masters, but on the other hand, I had to be more proactive and self-motivated in order to complete the work. This was difficult at the beginning because my Bachelors degree had a set structure, so I had to get used to managing my time outside of the classroom more wisely.

During my postgraduate study, there was also a slightly different dynamic between lecturers and students. This was most likely due to students often already having some professional work experience and greater subject knowledge. This did mean, however, that that my lecturers had higher expectations and I had to work harder to reach the required competency level.

Lastly, I found it a bit easier to make friends during postgraduate study because my class sizes were much smaller, and my course mates were more like-minded, as everyone was passionate about finance.

What are your career ambitions?

I'd like to break into the field of investment banking because it can give you the chance to make a visible impact on society and industries. Plus, there are very few jobs in which recent graduates can contribute to high-profile transactions and this is a very exciting prospect.

In the longer-term, I'm thinking about working in buy-side finance, such as for a private equity firm, as this provides greater exposure to how companies operate and it would allow me to directly help companies grow over time.

What do you wish you'd known before embarking on postgraduate study?

One of the main things is that postgraduate study isn't just a small step up from the undergraduate level. The workload is much greater and more challenging, and the degree is also very fast-paced, which was quite stressful and daunting at the beginning.

Also, performing well during an undergraduate course isn't necessarily an indication that you'll continue that same level of performance into Masters study. This is due to its far less structured nature, which means you'll have to quickly learn how to manage your time effectively to prevent your results from suffering.

Finally, I wish I was better prepared for just how big the reduction in social life is compared to that of an undergraduate, as much more time needed to be allocated to reading and studying. It was difficult seeing friends who'd already started working or were still undergraduates being able to enjoy a greater amount of free time.

What tips would you give to others choosing a Masters degree?

First spend some time weighing up the benefits you'll gain from studying a Masters - for example, by considering any new skills and improved employability versus time and money. This is important because studying a Masters is a big commitment. Choose a subject you're definitely interested in, and if this course of action will actually help you to achieve the job you're hoping to obtain.

Following on from this, you should at least have a vague idea of what type of career you're aiming towards, as a Masters is typically more specialised than a Bachelors degree. It could be a waste of time and money studying a subject in great detail and then deciding later on that you want to purse a job that's not really relevant to the Masters.

Lastly, if funding postgraduate study will be an issue or if you've any family responsibilities, then choosing a part-time Masters may be more suitable, as this will make it more feasible for balancing study with other work or family commitments.

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