Case study

Postgraduate student — Louise Norman

Following her degree in education studies, Louise decided to do a Masters in psychology. Find out what led her to this decision and what she hopes to do next

Why did you decide to do a Masters in psychology?

During my education studies degree, which I studied at the University of Gloucestershire, I really enjoyed the psychology modules. Towards the end of my degree I decided that I wanted to undertake further study at postgraduate level.

Having considered different courses, including a MEd, and seeking advice from tutors and the psychology course leader, I concluded that a Masters in psychology was the right course for me. The modules looked interesting and it seemed the best fit for my needs as an individual, alongside being the most appropriate course for my next career move.

How relevant is your education studies degree?

As a mature student I had previously worked as a qualified teaching assistant, which meant that I had some training. Most of my work was with children with special educational needs (SEN), ranging from behavioural difficulties to autism. My education studies degree gave me a broader comprehension of how and why the children I'd worked with behaved as they did.

My original thoughts were to obtain qualified teacher status (QTS) following my degree and apply to become an SEN coordinator. However, during my course I found that I enjoyed research and so wanted to develop further academically. I felt that I was not yet ready to give up studying.

Consequently, my degree has provided the opportunity for me to take up the challenge of postgraduate study and broadened my view on other possible careers.

What does your Masters course involve?

My Masters is a full-time, one year programme. The course itself is extremely pressured as there's a large amount of reading and preparation for assignments. In comparison with undergraduate study, there are more lectures per week and the workload is heavier.

It's been a huge learning curve because on top of the actual work, it feels as if I have to learn a new language called psychology. So far, however, I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

What do you enjoy about Masters study?

I particularly enjoy learning and researching new topics, consequently expanding my knowledge. I also feel excited when I discover that I understand a lecture because I learned about a similar topic in my undergraduate degree.

What are the challenges?

There's a lot of work and I'm concerned about time constraints. Due to being a mature student and a mother of three, my biggest challenge is to divide my time between studying and family life, ensuring that I have time reserved just in case I need to deal with an issue at home or support my children with their studying.

How essential is your Masters to getting a job?

Very. For my next career move, whichever direction I choose, I will need an MSc Psychology.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I haven't decided what career I plan to go into yet. I'm taking it a step at a time and will consider my options on the way.

What are your top tips for studying a Masters?

Go with a course that you feel comfortable with and a subject you enjoy.

Never be afraid to ask for help. Don't struggle on in silence. People would rather know that you need help.

Finally, it's ok to change your mind. Planning is good, but if it turns out that your plans are not your dream there's no shame in changing your mind and doing something else.

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