Why go to a Postgraduate open day at the University of Bristol? 

Master’s student Lyndon shares his experience of a postgraduate open day



I feel it is important to attend an open day at the university of your choosing for postgraduate study.

Firstlythis is an important step in your academic career, are you ready for the exciting challenge that postgraduate study poses (whether your undergraduate studies have just finished or you are returning from a break in education)? 

Secondly, even if you know the university (I didn’t study at Bristol prior to enrolling on my MA) it is important to gauge the feel of the place, the campus, city, course or courses on offer to you and to have conversations with the staff that will teach or supervise your studies. 

“My own experience of the postgraduate open day at Bristol was positive… everyone was very friendly and keen to help”

There is considerable information available on university websites even down to unit details, staff biographies/research interests and also student reviews. Although they are a useful first step, I would argue that face-to-face discussions and visits give you a far better idea of what a place is like to study at and what you can expect from your time on a course. 

My own experience of the postgraduate open day at Bristol was positive, it was busier than I anticipated, however, there were plenty of volunteers on hand to guide and assist me to find the right people to talk to. More importantly, everyone was very friendly and keen to help, if they didn’t have the answer to a query, they would find the right person to ask and either give you the information or hand you over to that person. 

“…after talking to the course director and getting answers to my questions, I was able to decide the best route for my postgraduate degree”

Initially I was considering the MPhil route, as well as the taught MA, but after talking to the course director and getting answers to my questions, I was able to decide the best route for my postgraduate degree. I also needed to decide whether to study full or part time and what that looked like in terms of contact hours, timetabling and study load. I was able to ask questions about units that were likely to be available and what ideas were contained and discussed within the core (nonoptional) unit. I chose full time, taught course, as it suited my circumstances better. 

As well as this important, incredibly helpful and informative conversation, there are other benefits to visiting an open day, for example, I was also given guidance about what would be beneficial to include in my personal statement as I was unsure beforehand how to pitch this. 

Finally, I was able to get an idea of the geography of the university buildings, including the study facilities, refreshment areas and the libraries. Simply physically walking around the various parts of the campus and its environs, talking to current students and staff  gave me a flavour of what to expect should I choose postgraduate study at Bristol. 

Reader, despite all the hills, I am glad I chose Bristol for my postgraduate adventure! 


Written by Lyndon, History of Art MA


To find out more about postgraduate study attend our Open Day on 20 November


What it’s like to study for a master’s

#WeareBristol #SPAIS, this is what l could see whenever l researched about International Development and the University of Bristol. Firstly my mentor and former professor Dr Gabriel Faimau is a SPAIS and Bristol alumni. When l spoke about taking up a postgraduate course he directed me to Bristol, because of their teaching style. In his words, ‘You will love Bristol!’ and twelve months later l am in Bristol and loving every second of my postgraduate study.

I have over seven years’ work experience in the development sector. I have worked with international organisations such as ActionAid International based in Uganda and UNHCR in Botswana. Despite having all this experience, l felt l needed and wanted to do postgraduate study and this is why…

“I firmly believe that postgraduate study opens your eyes to various world views and perspectives and affords you an opportunity to interact and learn from your peers.”

I’ve been successful in my career, with an undergraduate degree in Criminology, however, I realised passion alone was not enough for further progression and development. I went on to take a diploma in Development Leadership and that is when l realised l needed a postgraduate degree. It is then that before completing my diploma. l sent in an application to the University of Bristol for a Master’s degree in International Development. I firmly believe that postgraduate study opens your eyes to various world views and perspectives and affords you an opportunity to interact and learn from your peers.

My course is structured into two teaching blocks and this term l am taking three core modules. One of my favourite things about these modules is that they are all seminars. SPAIS is big on peer learning – we spend hours discussing various topics and understanding the practical linked to theory. Theories of development has since opened my eyes to the routes of development. I am in a better position to understand development work and ensure that future projects l implement are not only inclusive, but are sustainable as well. There are numerous networking opportunities available to postgraduate students, not just seminars, but also events run by the PG network.

Bristol has a great Postgraduate Open Day where prospective students can enquire more about their courses and find out more about possible career paths. If you are unsure about a course the open day will give you all the information you need to know and help you make your decisions.

If you are looking to study for postgraduate, look no further because Bristol should definitely be your home. #WeareBristol

Written by Mpho Elizabeth, International Development MSc


To find out more about postgraduate study attend our Open Day on 20 November


Why choose a master’s?

You’re about to complete your undergraduate studies and I bet you’re asking yourself what you should do next. That question goes through almost every undergrad’s head, so don’t worry about it. Almost no one has life after graduation figured out, some go straight into a job, others take a year off to travel, and some go on to complete postgraduate studies. If you are considering going on to complete a master’s, you are most likely asking yourself, “Is it worth it?” It is and I’ll explain why below. 

First of all, completing a master’s wasn’t always part of my plan. I decided to pursue an MSc in Public Health after taking a public health class at the university where I studied for my undergraduate degree. After working for a personal injury law firm that dealt with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), it confirmed that I wanted to go on to study a master’s. I wanted to learn more about how local and national governments go about handling outbreaks, whether it is STDs or other diseases. I scoured the internet for ways to get more experience in this field and made up my mind that completing a master’s in Public Health was the way to go. As an international student, I am able to gain different perspectives on major public health topics and see firsthand a majorly different health system to the one back home. Additionally, I am able to meet and network with people from all over the world, which opens doors for my future endeavours.

Secondly, the University of Bristol is an amazing university, with an outstanding research reputation. The MSc in Public Health programme, although fairly new, gives you the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully work in the public health sector. What initially drew me to this course was its diverse course catalogue. The modules range from Health Economics to Environmental Health. Additionally, our lecturers are incredibly clever and have an abundance of experience in this field. They are also the most helpful and friendliest lecturers I’ve ever had. I’m used to having classes in auditoriums where the professors don’t even know you exist. In this MSc programme, I am actually able to interact with the lecturers and get my questions answered. It’s an incredibly inclusive environment which makes it easy to ask questions without feeling judged. So please do not think that completing a master’s means that you are going to be completely on your own.  

Lastly, although the dissertation part of completing a master’s programme might be a bit daunting, I promise it’s not as bad as you think. I did have to write a similar paper during my undergraduate studies, so I came into this programme with previous experience writing a long research paper. Don’t worry if you don’t have that experience though, because you’re able to choose your own topic to write about, which makes it easier and more enjoyable. Additionally, this is a way to choose your “speciality” in a way, since you’re able to go into your chosen topic at great depth and you spend a whole semester just analysing data from that field. Writing twenty or more pages doesn’t seem so bad when you’re writing about something you enjoy and are actually really interested in.  

In Summary, completing a master’s broadens your knowledge on a specific topic, let’s you meet people from all over the world, therefore teaching you various ways to view problems in your topic area, and opens all types of career doors. It has been a great experience and I would highly recommend looking into completing a master’s, especially at the University of Bristol. You definitely won’t regret it. 

Written by Gabriela, Public Health MSc


To find out more about postgraduate study attend our Open Day on 20 November


Cosy spaces and grand showcases — how the Bristol Doctoral College helps our research students

As a research student at Bristol, you’re not just an important part of your school and faculty — you’re also a member of our thriving Bristol Doctoral College (BDC).

But what is the BDC, and how does being a part of it help postgraduate researchers (also known as ‘PGRs’) during their research degrees?

A key aim of the BDC is to support the development of postgraduate researchers across all research degree programmes, and to enhance their experiences with training, interdisciplinary events and opportunities.

The BDC has a small (but friendly) team who work to make that happen. A lot of our activity is centred on the Personal and Professional Development Programme, a specially curated selection of courses and resources that’s designed to support postgraduate researchers at every stage of their research degrees — from those early days of scoping and planning, to getting ready for that all-important viva.

We also hold events to welcome new postgraduate researchers to our vibrant community — and, in the case of the Research without Borders festival and Three Minute Thesis competition, give PGRs opportunities to connect, collaborate and share their fascinating research with the wider world. Since 2017, Research without Borders has concluded with a grand showcase exhibition in Colston Hall — putting the work of Bristol’s postgraduate researchers right into the heart of the city.

But it’s not all about festivals and large-scale events. Since October 2018, the BDC has overseen a dedicated space that PGRs can use on a day-to-day level. The PGR Hub, which is now on the second floor of the University’ s Senate House, is a place where PGRs can relax, take part in workshops and meet research students from outside of their school or faculty. And, by applying for our new PGR Community Fund, they can get support to make their own events happen in the space — whether it’s a movie quiz or a meditation session.

As one of our postgraduate researchers said: “The BDC and the PGR Hub help you to connect with people from different disciplines, and make you feel like you’re part of one big PGR community.” We couldn’t have put it any better ourselves.

Find out more about what we do, including supporting doctoral teachers and offering funding for placements, on the BDC webpages.

Images: Jenny Hardy