Case study

Postgraduate diploma in journalism — Katharine England

Katharine studied PGDip Journalism at De Montfort University and is now working in public relations (PR)…

Why did you choose this course and institution?

When I graduated from my BA Media Studies degree at De Montfort University in June 2010, I realised that I needed a postgraduate qualification to become a journalist. PGDip Journalism at De Montfort had really good reviews and close links to the Leicester Mercury newspaper, so I enrolled immediately.

What did your course involve?

It was basically an undergraduate degree packed into one year, so you can imagine how tough it was. We worked 9am-5pm most days in the university's journalism centre. This made us feel more like employees than students, which was reflected in our work. We did a variety of modules, including shorthand, media law, court reporting, public affairs and sub-editing.

What did the postgraduate diploma teach you?

Most of all, I learned just how hard and fast-paced journalism is. I gained an insight of this during a work placement when I was 14, but working to tight deadlines in a newsroom environment was something that I had no previous experience of.

How did you fund your study?

I was lucky enough to have family funding. However, a part-time job at Monsoon Accessorize provided me with spending money for socialising. I worked for four hours every Monday and Saturday. This was okay at the beginning, but became a struggle as the pressure of university built and my workload increased.

What were the advantages/disadvantages of the postgraduate diploma?

The biggest advantage was meeting such great people. Our class was like a small family and I made friends for life. I also greatly enjoyed shorthand, a vital skill for the media industry.

The only real disadvantage was the unexpectedly heavy workload - fitting everything into one year was tough.

I loved my time as a postgraduate at De Montfort. Living at home for most of my undergraduate degree meant that I missed out on the social side of university, and therefore didn't make too many friends. Postgraduate life was different, as most people also lived at home, or with their partners.

What did you do after you graduated?

I temporarily joined my stepfather's business, while looking for internships in London and full-time jobs within the field. After several placements, I worked for Troubadour Publishing and Bauer Media, before moving onto my current role of PR officer for Word Association.

Postgraduate study has definitely opened numerous doors. The great thing about my postgraduate diploma is that it covered many different areas of media. At the moment, my future lies in PR. However, I do miss the glamour and buzz from the magazine environment - so maybe in the future I'll become a successful editor.