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What is expected at Masters level study

Hands typing on a laptop

If you’ve been away from higher education for a long time, or you don’t have an undergraduate degree, it can be difficult to estimate the level of commitment required at Masters level. Many people may decide not to pursue a postgraduate qualification because they believe the course will be too intense for them. However, this week’s blog is here to show you that there’s really nothing to be afraid of…



Masters level study, much like undergraduate study, requires students to develop their own knowledge of a topic through independent reading. While the thought of spending many hours studying huge, dense textbooks can be intimidating, the reality is actually very different; students at University of Essex Online are encouraged to explore their subject via different mediums and to research different perspectives. One more huge advantage our students have is that they can read their electronic textbooks (eBooks) while they’re on the go, breaking down the required reading into manageable chunks that can be completed whenever they get a free moment — on their commute, in the office or anywhere else.

It’s also essential that as you read, you take down some brief notes. As these are purely for your personal use there’s no right or wrong way to take them; however, we recommend that they include a key quote or idea plus all the info you’ll need if you decide to reference it later. Trust us, this small step will save you lots of time in the long run!



After you’ve completed all your reading and note-taking, you’ll now need to put it into action in your assignments and class discussions.

Our postgraduate students are assessed in a number of ways including assignments, discussion forums and a dissertation/thesis. These are all perfect opportunities to demonstrate your research, while also applying critical-thinking skills.

Haven’t written an academic text in a while? Don’t panic! No matter what previous experience you have, here at University of Essex Online you’ll always receive lots of tutor feedback and support from your dedicated Student Adviser. We also have handy articles and a free eBook to help you get up to speed quickly!

Finally, another key skill you’ll need to master at postgraduate study level is the ability to reference and avoid plagiarism. Again, you’ll have lots of help with this, so there’s nothing to worry about.



Developing arguments

It’s not surprising that the quality of work you’re required to produce at postgraduate level is higher than that at undergraduate. As a Masters student you’re expected to develop and structure your arguments using clear, academic language. While it might sound difficult, all this really requires is a little preparation and organisation!

At Masters level it’s also important to analyse and critique your sources, not just describe and report others’ opinions. Again, this is a skill that you will probably already possess without even realising; e.g. in the workplace you might regularly evaluate sales and financial data, or review a project proposal, to evaluate its viability.


In summary, although a postgraduate qualification does require a lot of hard work, the financial and emotional rewards are definitely worth it. Your future career and salary prospects can be greatly improved, and your confidence and self-esteem will also receive a huge boost.


Think you’re up for the challenge?

Download our prospectus today