Any views expressed within media held on this service are those of the contributors, should not be taken as approved or endorsed by the University, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University in respect of any particular issue.

Student Stories

Student Stories

Blogs and vlogs from students of the University of Edinburgh

Passion vs Practicality: What I wish I had known when applying for a Master’s degree…

A quiet lane of houses in the sunshine.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

…by Georgia / from the UK / studying Literature and Society

In January of 2023, I applied for four Postgraduate courses at three separate universities: English Literature at the University of Exeter, Publishing at Stirling University, Publishing at Exeter again, and English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. I had no clue where I would end up studying for my Master’s degree.

In February of 2023, I still didn’t know.

In March of 2023, I still didn’t know.

In April of 2023, right up until 24 hours before the deadline to accept my offers, I still didn’t know.

Here is everything I wish someone had told me up until that point.

The primary debate happening in my mind was choosing between Publishing and English Literature. I applied for the former due to my interest in working as an Editor and my wish to gain connections and relevant skills for a job I wanted. These courses were more affordable and felt like an answer to the anxieties I felt about entering the workplace. Meanwhile, English Literature was something I was deeply passionate about and knew that I could succeed in. I had found specific areas to specialise in and I knew that I would miss the opportunity to explore them further. In the University of Edinburgh’s case, the course I applied for covered texts from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century, the era of literature I love the most. However, it was a slightly more expensive option that lacked the practical experience that would help me follow the career path I wanted. So how did I finally choose Edinburgh?

Firstly, I would advise everyone to take any opportunity they can to visit the places you are considering living in. While Postgraduate degrees are hard, you will not (and should not!) spend all your waking hours reading alone in your room. It’s important to be somewhere that excites you, inspires you to explore, takes you out of your room when the reading and writing gets to be too much. This is the impression I got when I visited Edinburgh. Five months into my degree, I’ve yet to be bored or disappointed. There are so many cafes, bars, museums, and historical sites that I still have yet to see. If you cannot visit these places in person, then virtual tours or “day in the life” vlogs are great for getting a sense of what a city has to offer.

Secondly, consider both your worst and your best-case scenarios. What is the worst that happens if you delay entering your chosen career by a year? What is the best case scenario of choosing a subject that is useful, rather than choosing a subject you love that offers a less specific direction? In twenty years’ time, what are you most likely to remember fondly, and what are you most likely to regret? These are very personal questions that can’t be answered by anyone but you. In my case, I decided to make the decision that excited me, rather than make the decision that eased my nervousness.

Finally, don’t wait until the very last second to decide. And make sure you have double-checked that you have sent in all the right paperwork for accepting an offer, even if you are unsure you are going to take it. Personal tutors don’t usually like being told that they have to quickly rewrite the reference they sent in, as it turns out to be the wrong format…

These are only my personal experiences, and everyone will have their own priorities, anxieties, and goals that may affect your decision. However, I hope that this helps someone else in a similar situation. I now think that there is no real right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing between two degrees that both offer a higher level of education and a new experience; any decision made with an open mind and an eagerness to take advantage of its opportunities can make you happy.

Want to find out more?

Chat with Georgia

Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


Report this page

To report inappropriate content on this page, please use the form below. Upon receiving your report, we will be in touch as per the Take Down Policy of the service.

Please note that personal data collected through this form is used and stored for the purposes of processing this report and communication with you.

If you are unable to report a concern about content via this form please contact the Service Owner.

Please enter an email address you wish to be contacted on. Please describe the unacceptable content in sufficient detail to allow us to locate it, and why you consider it to be unacceptable.
By submitting this report, you accept that it is accurate and that fraudulent or nuisance complaints may result in action by the University.