Case study

Masters student — Jade Horsley

By studying at the same university where she gained her first class undergraduate degree Jade received a 50% reduction in postgraduate course fees. Discover more about her postgraduate journey

What postgraduate course did you study and where?

MA Leadership and Management of Sport and Physical Activity at the University of Bedfordshire.

Why did you decide to pursue a postgraduate course?

When I first started university I knew I wanted to work in the sport and physical activity sector, with my heart set on being a PE teacher. I decided to continue my studies and complete a postgraduate course because I still wasn't 100% sure what I wanted to do career-wise when I finished my undergraduate degree.

My undergraduate course opened my eyes to different roles within the sports sector and I gradually lost my desire to become a PE teacher. I was more interested in sports development, project management and planning and delivering major sporting events.

I found an MA course that I knew would enhance my knowledge and included more hands-on experience. I knew completing a postgraduate course would help me stand out from other applicants in the future and that it would give me the opportunity to prepare myself as best I could for the working world. The contact time for the course was a lot less than my undergraduate course so I began seeking volunteer opportunities with the local council's Sport Development Team.

What was the application process like?

The application process was surprisingly straight forward, having completed an in-depth and rigorous application for my undergraduate degree I almost expected my Masters application to be similar.

I completed the application form, which was a simple one-sided A4 document and waited to find out if I'd been accepted.

Why did you choose this postgraduate course and institution?

I chose to continue my study at the University of Bedfordshire for a number of reasons. I wanted to be close to home so I could travel back at weekends to work.

I also knew my way around the institution, the services it offered and had a good relationship with the course co-ordinator. Having achieved a first class undergraduate degree at the university, it offered students who had achieved a this mark a 50% reduction in course fees for postgraduate study, providing this was completed directly after their undergraduate degree.

I knew if I wanted to complete a postgraduate course the best time would be after completing my undergraduate degree, as I was used to writing academically and to the expectations when completing essays. I also had a good understanding of university life.

How did you fund your postgraduate study?

As mentioned, the university offered me a 50% reduction in course fees for having achieved a first class degree for my undergraduate studies, meaning I only had to pay half the course fees.

I applied through Student Finance for the remaining fees and I also applied for funding to cover my living costs, although some of this was also supported through my part-time work.

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

My postgraduate course had a more specific focus than my undergraduate course, it unpicked the sport leadership and management involved in hosting events, the key drivers in the sport sector and some of the challenges you may experience when working within the industry.

The course challenged you to express your opinion and the majority of lectures were formed around discussions with peers or guest speakers who worked within the sector, which allowed us to form our work with real life experiences.

Tell us a bit about the course

The course included a range of units, covering sports policy, leadership and management of sports events and understanding the key drivers in the sport sector including: National Governing Bodies, Active Partnerships and Local Councils. Each unit included two or three assessments, these ranged from written assessments, poster presentations and discussion forums.

How was the course assessed?

Through written coursework, PowerPoint presentations, discussion forums, practical delivery of planned events and a 15,000 word thesis at the end of the course.

I found some of the assessment techniques easier than others, but I can't deny that all of the assessments were challenging and time consuming. I found the discussion forums particularly challenging due to not knowing what you were going to be asked. The discussion forums were normally open for a week with our lecturer writing an initial question in the forum which would stimulate some conversation among our class, we would then be graded on our initial answer to the question as well as answers to the questions our peers had asked us or the questions we had asked them around the chosen topic area.

How did postgraduate life differ to undergraduate?

The major difference between undergraduate and postgraduate study is the independence of postgraduate courses and the lone working. While you still have contact time on a postgraduate course, this is almost half that of an undergraduate course. The lectures not only give me the answers for my written assessments, they raised questions and made me want to go and find the answer or read into the topic area.

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

I wish I knew how hard and challenging the course would be at times. I also wish I hadn't underestimated how much time the course would take up.

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

I would highly recommend postgraduate study and I would suggest spending time thinking about the course you want to study, the areas that interest you and where you would like to be in terms of your future career.

When choosing your institution think carefully about the facilities and support available. Are there volunteer opportunities nearby in your desired field? Remember postgraduate study is not like undergraduate study. The nightlife dwindles off and the hard work begins.

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