Case study

Masters student in Spain — Tom Leach

Tom knew he wanted to leave his home in England to study for his Masters degree, and when his thesis supervisor suggested the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics it seemed like the ideal choice

What postgraduate course did you study and where?

Macroeconomic Policy and Financial Markets at the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.

Why did you decide to pursue a postgraduate course?

I still enjoyed studying and I didn't want to start working immediately. I was also considering pursuing a PhD and the Masters was the next step for that.

Why did you choose this postgraduate course and institution?

I really enjoyed writing my thesis during my Bachelors degree and wanted to do a course that would give me the opportunity to expand on that. I'd also decided that I wanted to do it outside of the UK. The process wasn't any more complicated than applying to a UK university and I knew that I'd have to move house anyway. Moving that little bit further away to experience life in another country wasn't a problem for me.

Does the university offer any funding?

It does, but I'm not sure how the scholarships are distributed. I think there's a much better chance of being awarded funding if you apply early, and I didn't submit my application until January.

Did you have a part-time job while you studied for your Masters?

No. The programme was too intense. It was already like having the craziest job ever. I worked every day and most weekends.

What did the course teach you that your first degree did not?

Discipline. I went from around six hours a week in lectures during my undergraduate degree to up to 20 in my Masters, and often worked until 9pm at night. It's a lot more intense, I had to work much harder, and I learned things that were much more complex than my undergraduate degree.

How does postgraduate life differ to undergraduate?

For me, going abroad and spending time with international people was a big learning curve and best part of the experience. It's very different to university in England and you can learn a lot from the people around you. And the workload is significantly larger.

Tell us a little about the course…

It focused on topics in macroeconomics and tools for macroeconomic analysis, including computational modelling, macroeconometrics, and monetary and fiscal policy. My thesis was a study on fiscal multipliers at the zero lower bound, which is essentially how large is the government spending multiplier when interest rates are unable to fall below zero.

What are the advantages of further study?

Specialisation is the main advantage. You can focus on particular areas of your subject that you're more interested in. It's also a good start for PhD studies if you would like to take that route, or any research-based roles in the future.

It's hard to think of many disadvantages. Perhaps that you have to put off receiving a wage and experience in industry for another year, but I think the returns of the investment outweigh this.

What areas of work could you go into as a result of your further study?

You could work in economics, finance and technology. I'm on a six-month traineeship with the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. Ultimately, I'd like to work in the research of distributed ledger technologies and blockchain. I haven't ruled out a PhD either - I'm currently looking at applications for January.

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

I wouldn't say rankings are everything when you're deciding where to study, but try to make sure you're choosing a course because it's the best, not the easiest. Choose something that challenges you, but make sure it's something that you enjoy, otherwise you won't rise to that challenge.

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