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November

Guide to Master’s degrees

We answer some of the FAQs around Master’s degrees and postgraduate study, to help you make the right decision for you.

When I was about to graduate from Bath Spa University, I had lots of questions about Master’s degrees. What subjects were available? Was any postgraduate funding available? Would a Master’s serve me in my career? In the end, I chose to get a job, but I often wonder if I made the right decision.

The good news is, there’s no right or wrong time to do a postgraduate course, and there are lots of flexible options that mean you can study alongside work, family and your other commitments.

Here, I’ll try to answer some of the frequently asked questions about Master's degrees and other forms of postgraduate study, to help you make the right choice for you.

What is a Master’s degree?

An MA is probably the most well-known type of postgraduate degree. Simply put, a postgraduate degree usually requires an undergraduate degree for entry. Postgraduate courses include Master’s degrees, Research degrees, PGCEs (teacher training), and Diplomas, and most postgrad students already have a Bachelor's degree. However, it is sometimes possible to demonstrate that your industry experience is equivalent to a BA and gain entry that way.

“I chose the Master’s in Composition course because I had just completed my BA (Hons) Music degree at Bath Spa and I wanted to develop my skills and voice as a composer and explore new compositional techniques that would help me develop.” Lois Wyatt, MMus Composition 

How long is a Master’s degree?

Postgraduate courses, from PGCEs to Research MAs, are usually one-year long, or two years part-time. But they can vary; our Senior Leader Degree Apprenticeship has a six-month long end-point assessment on top of the usual two years of part-time study.

Why do a postgraduate degree? 

There are lots of reasons to study at postgraduate level. They can help you develop your expertise, dive deeper into your chosen subject, stand out in your career, and boost your earning potential. Read our Top five reasons to choose postgraduate study to learn more.

“I chose to do the MA at Bath Spa to focus on redefining my business and improving as well as pushing my knitwear design abilities.” — Aleks Byrd, MA Design (Fashion and Textiles)

Can you study a Master’s degree online?

Absolutely – this is a great option for many students. Some MA courses, particularly business and management and education courses, are deliberately designed to enable you to work while you study.

Others offer flexibility for students who want to study at the best university for postgraduate courses in their field, no matter where they’re based. Bath Spa's MA Songwriting (Distance) is a prime example.

What are the disadvantages of being a mature student?

“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.” — Malcolm Forbes

Don’t be worried about joining a younger student body. Mature students bring their own advantages to university – in particular, their work and career experience. Universities value diversity, because it makes the experience richer for the whole community.

And studying later in life offers personal advantages. As the Good Universities Guide puts it, "you’ve made a considered decision to return". You're often more stable, settled, and you're eager to learn.

Are scholarships available for postgraduate studies in UK?

If you’re a UK resident you can apply for a Master’s loan to help with course fees and living costs. And if you’ve studied your undergraduate degree here at Bath Spa – even if it was a long time ago – you may be eligible for a Progression Scholarship.

Email myfinance@bathspa.ac.uk if you have any questions about postgraduate fees and funding, and the Bath Spa Student Finance team will be happy to help you.

What postgraduate courses can you do?

There's so much choice on offer - from specialised creative writing courses, to education, performance, teacher training, and self-directed research degrees.

“I am most proud of being able to work, bring up my son and do a Master's degree – all at the same time!" — Hannah Brierley, MA Education (Leadership and Management)

Search our postgraduate courses, or browse by school

Good luck with your search!

Disclaimer: The Bath Spa blog is a platform for individual voices and views from the University's community. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.

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