Discover Postgrad

Discover postgrad

Discover Postgrad is a scheme to help you find out whether Master's study is the right step for you. 

This programme is currently available to students in the following areas:

  • Leeds University Business School
  • Faculty of Biological Sciences
  • School of Languages, Cultures and Societies

All students in second year and above are welcome to get involved in activities. The programme aims to enable students to make an informed decision about Masters study, particularly students from under-represented backgrounds.


The Programme

This programme is being offered between October and December 2018. Remaining opportunities to get involved are shown below. 

Meet a Postgrad Mentoring Scheme

  • Find out more about PG study from a current Masters student
  • Choose your preferred criteria for your mentor
  • Connect with your mentor via email or face to face

Click here to sign up as a mentor or a mentee until the 30th November. 

Already signed up? Review our mentoring guidance to let you know what to expect: 

On the 10th December, attend our Mentoring Christmas social at Roxy Lanes. This event offers all mentors/mentees and new students the opportunity to meet up, take part in speed networking and socialise over bowling and buffet. 

Sign up here now!

Events We Have Delivered 

The following events have been delivered as part of the 2018-19 programme. If you would like to see any of the materials from these events, get in touch with Jenn Coates at

Masters: An Academic Insight - offered to students in LUBS and FBS, these events provided the chance to hear about the academic side of further study and sample some taster content. 

What Could You Do with a Masters? - offered to students in LCS and LUBS, these events offered the opportunity to hear from Masters graduates about the employability benefits of further study. 

Postgrad: Making it Happen - this event was open to all students and provided information on applying for and funding a Masters. This session was recorded - sign up here to access to recording (skip to 45 seconds to start). 


As part of the programme a series of informative e-bulletins have been issued. Back copies of these e-bulletins are available for you to re-visit here: 

  • Edition 1: Financing a Masters, Open Days and Why You Should Consider a Masters  
  • Edition 2: Employability Benefits, Scholarships and the Applications Process
  • Edition 3: Making Your Application Stand Out, Budgeting on a Masters and Student Case Studies 

Case Studies

Postgraduate study is a big undertaking, but for some people it can be exactly the right step to focus their career path. Read some stories from current Masters students about their PG experience and how you can get started. 

Anna, MSc River Basin Dynamics and Management with Geographical Information Systems


Anna’s passion for water resources and flood prevention helped motivate her towards master’s study. She talks about coming back to University after starting her career and how to take that first step

Hi there! I am studying a master's in geography, specifically MSc River Basin Dynamics and Management with Geographical Information Systems. Water resources are becoming increasingly important and flooding is a particular challenge to be addressed. I hope by studying this course I will develop a career in the water industry and contribute to solving these issues.

Following my BSc Geography degree at the University of Exeter, I then worked for two years at Exeter University in administrative roles including in careers and employability, student recruitment, and HR. Whilst I enjoyed my time working at Exeter University, I wasn’t using my geography degree to the extent I wished to.

Working in the careers team raised my awareness of the value of undertaking specific postgraduate study to enhance employability in a competitive market, which made me decide to specialise further and study a topic that interested me during my undergraduate degree in greater depth.

I looked on at various courses related to rivers and hydrology and read the reviews. I was delighted to find this single course with a blend of modules encompassing my interests that I felt would equip me with the knowledge and skills to take forward into my prospective career. The opportunity to undertake a work placement and the fact that the course was accredited by the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) added to my decision.

I’m the first in my immediate family to take on a postgraduate degree, and I was concerned about whether the course would be worth it financially. I didn’t really have a plan when I started the course yet, within a month of starting the course, I was offered a place on a graduate scheme following completion of the master's. I am starting a two-year graduate scheme with AECOM in their Leeds office in September, working in their Water Team which I am so excited about!

So my advice would be to firstly find out whether further study would be necessary and beneficial for your chosen career path, or if it would help you stand out from the crowd in a competitive employment market.

If you do decide to undertake PGT study I would suggest applying for jobs as early as possible (even from September/October) as some run a rolling recruitment cycle. Having received the job offer early on has allowed me to focus fully on the course and not worry about having to find a job at the end.

Rebecca, MA Disability Studies


Rebecca’s undergraduate dissertation and personal experience of disability sparked her interest in disability studies. She explains how a master’s has enabled her to pursue her passion and develop both personally and professionally. 

Hello! I’m originally from Burnley in Lancashire and studied History and Sociology at Manchester for my undergraduate degree.

I acquired my physical impairment through a chronic illness that started around the same time as I started my undergraduate degree. I became interested in sociological understandings of disability in my third year and my passion was ignited when writing my undergraduate dissertation on disability and the media. I really wanted to become more specialist, and hone my craft! After searching online for disability-focused degrees, I came across the Disability Studies MA here at Leeds.

I didn’t have any family to ask as I’m the first to undertake postgraduate study, but I spoke to my dissertation supervisor about it and they explained how the process works. I applied and was even awarded a Leeds Master’s Scholarship to support my studies - I'd strongly recommend looking into this if you're considering PG study! With the loan from Student Finance to accompany the scholarship, it took a huge weight off my mind so I could focus on my programme.

I worried initially about whether I could do the MA. With nobody in my family to ask about PG experience, it felt a little like wandering into a black hole. I was concerned about being in a new city, and wondering about making new friends. I was worried that everyone would be so engrossed in study, that they wouldn’t have time!

However, I involved myself with as many things as possible, and made sure I reached out to other students early to make friends and form support networks. I have made potentially life-long friends on my MA, and have met people I will keep in touch with who live all around the world. As a Postgrad, you can worry that University might just leave you to get on with things as you've been through it all before - but there are loads of opportunities available to help you settle into PG life and make friends.

My PGT study has been intellectually stimulating, and has helped me really develop both professionally and personally. As I’m also an avid music fan, my dissertation research is about disabled people’s access to live music. Being able to engage with people from different countries and backgrounds has been really interesting. Discussing key issues affecting disabled people today has also been great!

Alongside my course I occasionally blog about disability and other causes, and I’m very active on twitter. I am a founding member, and secretary of Leeds Disabled People’s organisation. We focus on tackling social isolation, as well as attending protests and marches. I have also volunteered as a Leeds Access advisor, reviewing how accessible places are in Leeds. I have attended the Ableism in Academia conference in London, and had a submission accepted for the Cripping the Muse summit at Leeds.

Following my master’s, I will be undertaking a sociology PhD full time in the centre for disability studies, about Personal Independence Payment as a form of necropolitics.

Naomi, MA Childhood Studies


Naomi’s desire to specialise as a children’s nurse, and to study for a nursing degree with a much broader focus than on just healthcare, led her to an MA in Childhood Studies.

She talks about being the first in her family to go to university for undergraduate and postgraduate study, and shares her top tips for managing the increased workload.

Hi there! I’m studying an MA in Childhood Studies because I want to become a specialised children’s nurse.

Some nursing degrees solely focus on healthcare, which is not what I wanted. I wanted to have a much broader outlook in my degree, to have an understanding of different children’s services and the perception these services have of children, which is why I chose this degree specifically.

I have Ghanaian heritage and am the first in my family to go to university, studying for a BSc in Learning Disability Nursing at the University of York. I’m therefore also the first from my family to study for a master’s degree. When it came to applying I had no one in my family to talk through the process with me, so I called the department and they were really helpful. The entire process was very smooth.

What I loved about my PGT course was meeting so many students from every corner of the world. Hearing about everyone’s different experiences was really exciting.

Perhaps the biggest change from undergraduate to postgraduate study was the workload, which essentially doubles. So I went from writing 3,000 word essays in my undergrad years, to 6,000 words at master’s level. Adjusting to the increased workload was perhaps the most challenging aspect of PGT study.

I funded my MA through receipt of a scholarship and also taking out the postgraduate loan. Finances can be tight, so I would advise others to budget properly. It’s nice to treat yourself of course, but make sure the important things are covered such as the course fees and books! The scholarship also gave me access to the Plus Programme (a support system providing academic workshops, skills development and other opportunities) which has brought me lots of social interaction with other students.

The university’s disability service have been really helpful as well, providing me with the support I needed because I have dyslexia, particularly in helping me to understand what the essay questions were asking of me.

My top tip for anyone studying a master’s is to start early, pace yourself and not to leave things to the last minute. As mentioned earlier, the workload is much greater than at undergraduate level, and this can catch up with you if not managed properly. But also, enjoy yourself. You’ve reached an incredible milestone, so enjoy the process of learning!

After finishing my MA I plan to work in nursing, and then head back to university in a few years to study for a PhD.

Will, LLB Law, LLM International Economic Law


Will talks about his desire to continue studying straight after his BA and how your experience as an Undergraduate can help you find what really interests you.

I didn’t really want to leave my study after my BA. In my year abroad I touched on things I found really interesting, I’d found something I really liked. It got to the point when I was doing readings for my classes in Hong Kong and it was just fun. It was like oh I’ve got some free time, let’s sit down and learn more about this!

I’m not currently qualified to be a lawyer working in international arbitrations, I need more qualifications, and I also need to know that it’s definitely something that I want to do.

If you’re going for competitive fields it seems like a no brainer. If you enjoy your subject, if you enjoy studying, it’s something that’s invaluable.

The actual study in itself is very different, undergrad is very much like here’s a big lecture and here’s some readings and we’ll talk about it in the seminar. I’ve never had something that could come close to a lecture in masters, it’s far more interactive.

You meet a lot of people and because essentially you’ve focused on a more specialist area, whereas undergrad is quite general, you find people with similar interests, and you will find yourself just chatting to these people, who come from different backgrounds and different perspectives. You find yourself learning so much from that side as well as the classroom and the reading side.

I think that one of the most helpful things to think about in terms of the debt is NOT to think about how much it is, but instead to essentially think of it as like a quasi-graduate tax which I think helps me out a lot.

And yeah again when I looked for a masters course, I realised it was probably going to be a lot, but there are factsheets out there, they have stuff on the website and on the student finance website about the repayment rate and the percentage you’re looking at.

My debt has just kept going up and up and will keep going up for a while, because being from a less well-off background my maintenance loans have been a lot higher than other peoples… plus now this 10 grand postgraduate loan on top of it means that my debt is a lot… I don’t know what it is, I don’t care. What matters is the percentage.

The loan is £10,000 and the course is a bit over £8000, so I knew my course was paid for and I just had to sort out living, which was just a part time job. It didn’t really seem that daunting a prospect. I mean, I’ve worked since I was 13, I don’t expect to not work. I’ve worked everywhere, in nightclubs, in subways, I did a lot of stuff for widening participation in my first couple of years.

Working while studying I find phenomenally important, it keeps you grounded in the real world, it gives you a different perspective on things.

Tina, MA Post-Colonial and Commonwealth Literature


Tina talks about coming back to University after a period of work and the natural fears this can bring.

I hadn’t written essays for a while so I think there was always a concern going back to it about whether you still remember how to do it. That took me a little while to get back into, but now I’m back into the flow, it is kind of like riding a bike.

I think that on the course we all have a significant amount of professional experience. Before at undergrad, a lot of it was theoretical because you have not had that experience. I think that’s a significant difference.

Because of the professional experience, the way in which the conversations in class and the things you read come alive is very different. You are kind of mapping off of real life experience.

I think there’s an assumption that people doing MBAs are going to get sponsorship from their companies, and that obviously is not always the case. My company can’t sponsor me. They’re very happy I’m doing it but they couldn’t afford the fees. That’s the same with a lot of people on my cohort who have had to find ways to self-fund. It’s a shame, I think you’d have more people taking up the opportunity to do something like this if they could get funding.

I’m fortunate in that I’m in receipt of a 50% scholarship from the 30% club which is around supporting greater gender diversity in roles in executive leadership in companies. I was very fortunate to receive that, and without that support there is a good chance I wouldn’t have been able to participate in this MBA.

I’m enjoying the fact that there are people who have different approaches to things and they’re all really interested in hearing from others about their experience and their approaches. I really appreciate that a lot, and how we can genuinely have decent conversations with people about their sector or their organisation.

To have these periods that are protected throughout this MBA where actually I can engage in conversation I can sit down and think I can just challenge myself and challenge my viewpoint, I think that is priceless.

I would say do it. I would say that in terms of my own experience it’s definitely worthwhile, but consider before you start whether it is something that you can really see through to the end. We have had a couple of people from my cohort drop out because of… life, and life things.

I think if you are able to see it through to the end you will find it an incredibly fulfilling and enriching experience, it might not always be easy, and there will be times where you might ask yourself why are you doing this, I think it’s a case of stick with it because the rewards outweigh and doubts you might have.

Adam, MSc Industrial Biotechnology


Adam talks about the financial concerns of master's study and how it's important to do things outside of PG study.

I’m originally from Cardiff and I’m the first in my family to study a Masters. I love the beautiful scenery around Cardiff, and I’ve brought that interest with me. I love cycling and hiking and I’ve started caving. 

I imagined applying for Masters study would be as complicated and strict as the undergraduate UCAS application. It turned out to be a lot more relaxed and personal.  I found out about this Masters on the internet. I looked for interesting biotech masters courses and York's appealed to me the most. I almost missed it however, so make sure you research hard. 

I worked for two years in a finance company in Cardiff to fund my masters (There weren't Masters loans in Wales when I originally applied). And thanks to working and living at home for two years after initially graduating, I'm able to use savings. 

The specialism of this Masters is very tailored to what I'm looking to do. Everyone here is out to try their best, so everyone here appreciates that. Being on campus outside of term is also very odd!

Before I arrived I was worried I'd be out of the "scientific loop" as I'd spent two years out of science. As it turned out, the course was very good at reintroducing me to the world of academia. It was a bit of a challenge to get back into the 'self-motivating' mindset, after two years in a 9-5 job. Having the opportunity to lie in every day was a habit I struggled to break!

I've been part of the caving club, crawling through squeezes and jumping into underground rivers! I've also taken part in a few open days and outreach events. I'm planning to stay in York and find a job in a lab - the course has given me the exact stepping stones I needed.

Amy, MA Women, Violence and Conflict


Amy talks about her worries of the social aspect of University being lesser at PG study and how she overcame those concerns.

I am from Solihull, which is a town near where Shakespeare was born! My mum is Indian and my dad is British so I have had the best of both cultures growing up. I have always been a women’s rights advocate since a very young age, but I only recently learned how I can actively mobilise this passion. My parents never completed a postgraduate degree because they didn’t have the support that I have from my parents!

Currently I am studying MA Women, Violence and Conflict in the Centre for Women’s Studies. Throughout my life I have been interested in women’s issues and emotionally drawn to the inequalities and what I personally could do about it. So, whilst I was studying my undergraduate degree I looked into doing a Masters not even realising that Women’s Studies existed. I believe that the course suited my personal values and morals and it is something that I would like to specialise in to help me attain an academic perspective of women’s issues.

Before my Masters, I studied BSc Business Management at Cardiff University. I chose it because I had studied Maths and Economics at school and it seemed like an appropriate fit. It was a very broad degree and opened up many options and I learnt useful and practical knowledge. However, it also helped me decide what I did not want to do in terms of my career. I was able to see the parts of Business Management that I liked and then choose my Masters on that basis.

I knew that I wanted to study Women’s/Gender Studies so I researched online for UK universities that offered the course. As there were only a handful it made the decision slightly easier. The reason I chose York specifically was because the administrator was extremely helpful and sounded enthusiastic about my application. I sent my application that day and I am pretty sure I received an offer very shortly after!

The application process was super easy! It is much more personal, as you apply directly to the department of the university that you are hoping to study at! The only recommendation I would have is to pick up the phone and ring up the department and let them know you are interested before applying. This way the administrator will already know your name when your application comes through.

I'm using the Government Student Finance. This has paid for my course and contributed to my rent. I have been very lucky in that my parents have been helping me with living costs but I have also had jobs throughout the year to help myself with that.

I genuinely didn’t know I could learn and develop so much in one year. My thoughts have developed so much since I was studying my undergraduate course. In a way that I feel I am prepared for the working world in the industry that I am interested in.

My undergraduate degree was a Bachelor of Science and my Masters is a Master of Arts, which are very different. They both require different skills, when I applied at undergraduate I wasn’t aware of that. So, it was a bit of a shock when I attended Masters classes in the first term as I felt I was slightly behind than those who had studied Bachelor of Arts such as English Literature or History. However, after a few weeks of reading and joining in class discussions as much as possible I felt I started to get the hang of it.

Writing assignments was also very different because you have to choose your own topic and create your own question. I had never been given any choice about topics for my undergraduate so before even starting the essay I spent so much time reading and deciding a topic, pinpointing exactly what I wanted to do. It’s difficult, however it is much more motivating because you are writing about a topic that you really care about! 

The biggest challenge was doing a course I pretty much knew nothing about. I know about feminism on a practical and activist sense, however I knew no theories, to be honest I hadn’t really heard of feminist theory before applying. So, I was studying extra hard in the first term to get my head around what I was actually studying. By the second term I was able contribute more in the class discussions and really start to engage with what my course is all about! 

The summer before I was moving, I was not worried at all, probably because I was busy having fun! However, as it got to the week before moving away I was so worried about making friends, I had such an established group of friends at Cardiff that I was sad to leave them and also believed it wouldn’t be possible to make such good friends in one year. When I moved, I quickly realised that this wasn’t going to be the case. I attended the majority of events at the postgraduate welcome week and made friends there that I am still friends with today! So my worries were rational, however I quickly realised it was all going to be fine! 

Dinesh, MSc Project Management


Dinesh talks about staying focused on your programme and how to not let your anxieties about where you've come from affect you.

Doing a masters course having been through what I’ve been through, it’s an opportunity to get back on my feet and really just to take advantage of something that could open up a lot of doors. Especially coming back from a major health challenge… trying to find what I could do with my time, what would be the best investment in terms of my time and money, I felt that the opportunity to do a masters here… it just seemed to add up

This course could really enhance my knowledge and give me a little bit more in terms of tools. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do because, you know, I want to build a career.

There’s been some challenges along the way, really, growing up, being a minority… I went to a Roman Catholic school, so, early on it was ok, growing up, but then you know you get to that teenager stage of your life and you start to question your identity. And then I started to question who am I and where do I fit in, do I fit in, which community do I really belong with.

People mix and integrate really nicely here. So yeah, for me initially there was a concern just because of how things were outside, leading up to my time at university, but I think coming here has restored my faith in getting on with other nationalities and it’s not so much of a threat as I’d thought… There’s no superior/inferior relationships I’ve felt, and everyone’s got something different to bring to the table… I think people are really excited learn and mix and find out different things about peoples backgrounds. You make lifelong friends really.

I sort of envied some of the undergraduates who have gone straight into the masters course because they’re on this momentum, and they’re on the ball, whereas I did feel some anxiety, prolonged anxiety you know, coupled with my health and all the other challenges and confidence issues it was amazing how… quick you can bounce into that and rubber band back.

Coming into university they soon fall off, the anxieties, because once you’re involved it becomes about the work and the projects and the study, that becomes the focus, rather than your own anxieties and your self-consciousness.

What I’ve learnt is that when you get fears or you start to have doubts or self-limiting sort of thinking or feeling then I think it’s really important to stay focused on what you want. There are going to be moments where you fall of a little bit sometimes and question yourself and it’s difficult but from what I’ve learnt and what I really think is that there’s no limit really, you can achieve something that you didn’t think you could achieve from the outset.

Sam, MBA (Open University)


Sam talks about working alongside PG study and managing that balance.

I'm originally from South London, but remained in York after doing my undergraduate degree. Alongside a busy day job and family life, I'm a football referee in the semi-professional game, and live for my holidays! My wife also has a postgraduate certificate, but nobody in my immediate family has gone on to complete a Masters.

I work for the University of York and will continue to do so throughout my MBA study. A few years ago, I completed a Postgraduate Certificate via distance learning through my professional body, the Association for University Administrators - I also did this alongside full-time work.

I knew that I wanted to continue working during my MBA, so focused my search on providers who delivered teaching via distance learning. I narrowed down to a handful of providers and then attended online admissions events to find out more, but didn't attend anything in person! I also asked for details from my shortlisted providers and asked colleagues at work about their thoughts on the best option to choose.

The application process was straightforward; I knew that I met the entry criteria and so only a short application was needed. I was successful in applying for Recognition of Prior Learning which will reduce the time and cost of my Masters.

I'm very lucky that my employer has offered to fund about a third of my Masters and that is making a huge difference. To make up the rest, I took out a commercial loan over five years - this seems the most cost-effective option considering that I am working as it is much cheaper than government loan rates.

The level of study has increased, but this makes things more interesting - one can really unpick ideas and we are asked to challenge conventional wisdom. My fellow participants are also a fascinating bunch, working in a wide range of areas and some with very impressive CVs. A big difference at Masters is the expectations on students to manage their own work, and most important to think and write critically.

Before I started I was concerned about whether I would be able to fit all the work into a busy lifestyle. I have managed so far, though there is still a long way to go! You have to be honest about whether you can maintain some other commitments.

Ellen, MA English and Comparative Studies


Ellen talks about the value of PG study and how it can be worth the cost.

I wanted to do something that wasn’t just academic, I wanted to do something that would be practical and would be sort of a bit like a job… to give me an idea of what that would be like as I would be producing something that would be interesting and useful.

I remember speaking to my parents on skype about it and them just saying “but you love what you’re doing, you finally feel like you’re doing the right thing and why would you stop doing that” and the reason was the money, I felt guilty

I remember hearing a talk from someone that said “is it too much money to pay for a course? Absolutely. Is it criminal that they’re making you pay this amount of money? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Probably.” And I think that’s the attitude I’ve tried to have, knowing that the money is one thing but knowing what you’re actually getting from the course can’t really be quantified, can’t really be boiled down to a sum.

I came across the taught masters scholarship, I applied thinking I would never get it, so I thought well I’ll give it a go. I still had all these kind of contingency plans of living at home and then when I got the money through it was this massive “oh I can actually this year there’s space now to make it my own, rather than it actually being a compromise”

There are things that are going to make you absolutely mad, particularly coming from a background where money isn’t everywhere and you can’t just throw money at things and make them go away, you’ve got to be careful and sensible… You also have to find a way of thinking about it where you’re not going to be angry all the time and that is quite hard sometimes.

In terms of practical advice I think having a job is good because you can’t study all the time, you can’t sit at a desk 8 hours a day and be healthy, it’s good to have something where you’re actually meeting people. Rather than viewing it as something that is a cross to bear, think of it, it’s really hard sometimes, but try and think of it as enhancing your overall student experience, this is what people do they have to have jobs

One of the best things about starting the MA course was the fact that it’s a really massively mixed group of people sign up to do a writing degree, I don’t know what it’s like with other subjects

It was a great way of picking up contacts for the future and meeting people who have different perspectives and different agendas but have this one thing in common which is writing and making stuff up and that was really really good

The masters was really good because people really wanted to make something of this opportunity

Contact Jenn Coates on if you would like more information. 

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