Case study

Masters student — Sky Johnson

Sky completed an MA Education (Special Educational Needs) at the University of Bedfordshire. Find out more about her postgraduate experience

What undergraduate degree did you study and where? 

BA Hons Education Studies at the University of Bedfordshire.

Why did you decide to pursue a postgraduate course? 

One of the main reasons is that I love learning. I took a gap year after my undergraduate degree and I missed learning so much. I really wanted to take the next step with my education.

I also wanted to broaden my understanding of special educational needs and/or disability (SEND), and I felt that with the knowledge gained on the course I would be able to progress in my career with added confidence and professionalism.

Why did you choose this institution?

I chose the institution because I was familiar with it and knew the university campus well from my undergraduate degree. I was happy with my experience during my first degree and wished to return to study further.

Did you take up further study immediately after your first degree?

I took a year out of university and worked full time in a school, while completing my teaching qualification (QTLS).

How did you fund your postgraduate study?

I funded my postgraduate study through a student loan from Student Finance.

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

My postgraduate degree taught me that I am dyslexic. During my undergraduate degree I was always slower than my friends at completing assignments and I just shrugged it off. Although I gained a 2:1 for my undergraduate degree, I was unhappy knowing that I should have looked in to why I always missed out on the high grades for essays.

When I began my postgraduate degree I visited the Student Support Desk and explained my feelings and they offered me a dyslexia test. The test showed that I have some characteristics of dyslexia and they arranged for me to have a formal diagnostic assessment with a qualified psychologist. Following my diagnosis, I received a tutor who was able to support me with work. I went on to achieve a Masters with distinction. If you feel like you're struggling or have any concerns, please talk to your Student Support Team.

How was the course assessed?

During my MA Education (Special Educational Needs) course I was assessed through presentations, essays and a dissertation.

I coped well with all of the assessments but I did not particularly enjoy the presentations. However, I am grateful for these as they definitely increased my confidence, both at university and at work.

How does postgraduate life differ to undergraduate?

Postgraduate life differs to undergraduate life in various ways. For example - you have more freedom and you have a more mature and professional relationship with your lecturers.

Your postgraduate work also needs to be at a higher and more complex standard than your undergraduate degree. 

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

How quickly it would fly by. I was lucky to study at the same university as at undergraduate level so I knew roughly what to expect.

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

  • Ask yourself why you are choosing the degree - Choose a postgraduate degree that you're passionate about otherwise you may eventually resent being at university.
  • Consider part-time postgraduate degree courses as well as full-time postgraduate degree courses. I completed my Masters degree part-time. A part-time course allows you to continue your work/volunteer commitments.
  • Don't rush, do your research, visit the university, get information and consider various postgraduate degree courses before choosing the perfect one for you.
  • Have fun and make memories with new friends while you're at university. Studying any course can be daunting. On my very first day, I remember thinking to myself 'What have I done? Why am I here? I am going to be on my own throughout this?' I can't imagine completing my Masters degree without having friends as a support system.

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