The Step Up to Masters
As I am now coming to the end of the first term of my MA, I’ve been able to take some time to reflect precisely on how the last few weeks have gone. The step up from Undergraduate to Masters has been challenging at times, and I’ve developed some tips which might help others.
After my first week, it became apparent that I would need to structure studying in a slightly different way than when I was an Undergraduate. Attempting to place some structure in my day, I tried to approach the week as though it was a working week with 30-35 hours that needed to be filled up. These hours could look very different depending on whether you are a night owl or an early bird. After three years of studying for my Undergraduate, I knew that I was most productive between 1pm – 3pm. So I structured my day around those fixed times. This didn’t mean hours of mindless reading though. Those 30 hours included lectures/seminars as well as talking to coursemates about readings and sharing ideas.
History degrees at Undergrad or Masters aren’t exactly known for large amounts of contact hours, but you will have even more time on your hands. Your schedule doesn’t need to be set in stone but having a basic one will have you prepared for the increased workload.
It is hardly surprising to see a History student up to their ears with reading and being prepared for the increased amount for an MA is going to help you from the get-go. If you have not practised speed-reading in your Undergraduate, then now is the time to learn. The university offers skill courses which I would recommend helping with this, such as speed reading and note-taking.
In addition to this, being aware early on about the topic you may want to focus on in assessments or later with your dissertation will help you decide which texts to read with greater depth.
Reading also does not need to be an isolated task. Discuss the reading with someone else before your seminar; you might even get hints about what chapters of the text that might be best to avoid.
Making time to be social and see other people is just as important as it was in your Undergrad. You will need to be more proactive about it only having a year at the new university but joining societies and reaching out to coursemates is essential. The year of studying at this level can be intense, and it is just as crucial for your wellbeing to make time for a social life. It will help you avoid feeling burnt out and can help relieve some of the extra stress. Even if a global pandemic has rained on a lot of social plans, making time to spend to socialise has been just as crucial to the start of my MA.