Our postgraduates choose to join Bristol for their master’s for a wide range of reasons. Increasingly, with the threat of climate change causing irreversible damage to our planet, the sustainability of our institution and city is cited as one of those reasons.
Well, we consider our environmental impact in everything we do: our research, our curricula, our buildings and the student experience. We’ve made a range of pledges to reduce the impact we have, including becoming a net carbon neutral campus by 2030, and we regularly make changes, big and small, to achieve this. For example, just last week, we rolled out Ecosia as our default search engine across all University-owned devices which will lead to thousands of trees being planted, with thanks to two of our students who led the initiative.
Our students are actively encouraged to help us meet our targets. A wide range of sustainably-oriented volunteering opportunities are offered through the University as well as the Students’ Union. Not only do these opportunities benefit the community and environment, but they also contribute to the student experience and provide skills that can be taken forward once students graduate.
“People kept telling me it was a green city and actually living here you can tell that the people here do really care about the environment and a lot of environmental issues, so for someone on an environmental course it’s a really cool place to live.”
The sustainability of our institution stems from ourlike-minded and forward-thinking community of students, academics and staff.If you’d like to join our community as a postgraduate student, find out more at our postgraduate virtual events running throughout March.
Here at the University, we’re winding down and getting ready for the festive season. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, we hope that you get some time to relax and enjoy this holiday period.
Our Enquiries Team will be taking a break too, with the University closing down from 5pm tomorrow, 18 December, so we’ll respond to any queries during this period from 9am on 5 January. This includes phone calls, emails and our social media channels.
Many of our students, including postgraduates, will be staying in Bristol over the holiday season, so we’ve organised a range of activities and events to keep our students entertained during this time.
2020 has been an extremely challenging year for everyone, and we hope that we can all enter 2021 with a newfound resilience and hope that the year ahead will be brighter.
If you’re going to use the break to find out more about pursuing postgraduate study with us, we have a wealth of on-demand resources on our webpages from our postgraduate open weeks in November. You can watch recorded webinars hosted by our academics about the subjects you’re interested in, as well as student life webinars to find out about the support available to you while you’re here. If you’d like to attend a live event, register your interest for our virtual events in March and you’ll be the first to know when bookings go live.
As we gear up for the beginning of the postgraduate term, we’ve been chatting to Leah Martindale, your Postgraduate Education Officer in the Bristol Student’s Union.
What is your role in Bristol Student’s Union (SU)?
I’m Leah, the Postgraduate Education Officer at your Students’ Union! I work in the SU to ensure fair representation for postgraduates at all levels within the SU and the University, from the structural to the social. I raise postgraduate concerns and work full-time to ensure all postgraduate’s voices are heard throughout the University, in all areas surrounding postgraduate life and the student experience. I am also a Trustee of the SU, and sit in lots of different spaces ensuing that postgraduate’s needs, wants, and rights are raised and responded to. I have been democratically elected to represent you for this academic year, and am contactable if you should ever have an issue to raise!
What does Bristol SU do for postgraduates?
Bristol SU offers democratic representation at all levels of your student experience. Our course and faculty representatives stand for your needs specifically, and work with academic staff and SU staff to ensure your academic issues are being brought to the table. Our networks represent specific groups, running social and educational events, engaging with the University, and championing the voices they represent. Our hundreds of sports clubs and societies enrich your student experience with social events, volunteering and activities, and growing a social network that will support you throughout your university journey. I am one of seven elected Officers (David: Undergraduate Officer, Ruth: Student Living Officer, Roy: International Students Officer, Jason: Equality Liberation & Access Officer, Julio: Union Affairs Officer, and Rushab: Sports & Student Development Officer) and we work with the staff of the SU on issues surrounding the entirety of the student experience. Bristol SU are here to give you the best student life!
What goes on in the SU in the lead up to the beginning of term?
The lead up to the start of term is always a hectic time, but more than ever this year! In a normal year we would be preparing our current representatives, training them up and getting them excited for the year, coordinating our societies to prepare for the years to come, meeting with the University about the matters arising in the coming year, and preparing for the Welcome Fair in September. This year we are doing all of this and more, while assuring that all of these activities are as engaging, exciting, and educational in a blended learning environment! Us officers are in discussions with the University about digital education, social life in the age of COVID-19, re-entering the ‘new normal’, and more. Don’t worry though, we are still working on our manifesto points, shaping our ideas and keeping the important conversations going!
If you’re joining us this year, we hope you are excited for the beginning of term! Find out more about your Bristol Students Union online.
Two of our Student Wellbeing Advisers, Carolyn and Antonio, give us an insight on what’s been going on behind the scenes in the lead up to term and share information on what support is available for postgraduates.
What’s been going on in the Student Wellbeing Team in the lead up to term?
The Student Wellbeing Service has continued to support all students, including postgraduate students, over the summer period. We’ve been offering telephone and online services to enable students to have a meaningful discussion with an adviser about changes to their wellbeing. Much of our work with students prior to lockdown was face-to-face, so this has been a significant change for us, but one that students seem to have engaged well with.
The team are aware of the difficult situation faced by postgraduate researchers over recent months and the uncertainties this has posed for their work. We also understand that this has implications for their career progression, finances, visas, homes and families. We have been keeping up-to-date with changes in schools and support services such as Student Funding, Study Skills and Library Services, so that we can stay aware of what additional support may be available to postgraduate researchers. We have also been familiarising ourselves with the new COVID-19 guidance for staff and students, including guidance for postgraduate students on issues around safe access to campus.
Updates to resources and programmes
Wellbeing Advisers have been updating guidance on local and University resources that may have changed because of COVID-19. This includes information about NHS services, University services and local Bristol services. We’ve been creating new online resources that students will be able to access in their own time for support with ‘Being Well’ and ‘Living Well’, and we are currently working with Sport, Exercise and Health to refer students to the Healthy Minds Programme again now that sports facilities are available.
Digital wellbeing support
Over the summer, the Student Wellbeing Team have also been preparing for the new year by familiarising ourselves with the world of digital education supported by the Digital Education Office. We’ve been redesigning and moving our Wellbeing Workshops online to make sure we can offer psycho-educational and experiential resources to students, with particular focus on subjects like perfectionism, procrastination, resilience and relaxation. Our website will be updated with the schedule in due course.
What support is available for postgraduate students?
We work through listening and helping to plan and problem-solve with all students. We can offer emotional and practical support (eg how to handle challenging conversations) if students are experiencing difficulties. We would also encourage students to contact us if they are concerned about someone else and we can guide them through the options for supporting or involving other services.
We are aware that for postgraduate researchers, their primary supervisor should be the first point of contact for any issues they are dealing with. However, we are able to support research students with other issues affecting their wellbeing and progress such as stress, anxiety, academic pressure, family concerns, bereavement, isolation, financial problems, relationship issues or simply if they are feeling worried or upset about something.
There are, however, some things that we can’t help with:
We do not offer clinical or medical health services. If students need these services, contact our Students’ Health Service.
We do not offer counselling. If you need think you need this service, Wellbeing Access will connect you to the right support which may include counselling.
How can postgraduates find the support available to them should they need it?
For support with wellbeing/mental health, students can contact the University’s Student Wellbeing Access. We continue to develop the Wellbeing Service and Wellbeing Access in order to support all students in the next academic year. Any student, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, can contact Wellbeing Access via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, on the phone at 0117 4569860, or by using the online form to request support. The student will then be contacted to discuss their referral and may be offered a variety of support options as detailed below.
Based on their needs, this service can set the student up with a Wellbeing Adviser for advice and guidance, signposting, one-to-one support, online workshops and/or refer them to the Student Counselling Service for more clinical therapy.
If students are experiencing a mental health crisis, they can also book a same day appointment with the Student Health Service.
If they are struggling outside of the University’s opening hours, we also provide information on out of hours services. All University students have access to support from Togetherall (previously Big White Wall), Nightline and the SHOUT text crisis service.
Are you joining us for postgraduate study this year? Henry, one of our Enquiries Team members, gives his advice for new postgraduates. Find out where to get advice and support as well as the best places to go in Bristol!
Hi everyone, I’m Henry and I work in the Enquiries Team for the University. You may have spoken to myself or my colleagues during the application process and I would like to congratulate all of you on starting your studies with us this year! Whilst our role largely focuses on helping students with their applications we are still here to help with any queries from new and current students alongside our colleagues at the Student Information Point.
The most popular enquiries from incoming students have, unsurprisingly, been about the University’s plans for the upcoming academic year in the face of the ongoing pandemic. I never thought the phrases ‘blended curriculum’ and ‘stretchy campus’ would become part of my lexicon but here we are! If you haven’t had the pleasure of speaking to myself (!) then please take a look at our Covid-19 FAQ pages which provide all of the most important information about our commitment to providing a safe and fulfilling learning environment.
“I never thought the phrases ‘blended curriculum’ and ‘stretchy campus’ would become part of my lexicon but here we are!”
Lots of students are keen to find out what events are planned for the Welcome Week beginning on the 28th September. The University is planning lots of virtual induction events that will help you get settled, meet fellow students, and get ready to explore Bristol! More information on course-specific events will be communicated by your faculty and please do check out our Bristol SU page to see all of the great societies and events that are planned.
I would advise all incoming postgraduates to orientate yourself with all of the great support services we offer. This ranges from wellbeing support to career advice and study support. Whatever your needs are we can help direct you to the correct team to support you.
One of the best things about studying at the University of Bristol is the city itself. Bristol is the perfect size to provide a diverse and exciting experience whilst always being within a commutable distance. Wherever I have lived in Bristol I have been able to walk or cycle to wherever I want to go within the city. If you are ever in South Bristol I would recommend Perrett’s Park which overlooks the city, it is definitely a hidden gem among Bristol’s many park spaces and has an amazing view as the sun sets.
I would really recommend looking at our explore Bristol page as this has a breakdown of the city’s neighbourhoods, key attractions, and commutable destinations within the South West & Wales.
I really hope you have a great beginning to your time at Bristol, if you need any advice or assistance during your first weeks then please contact us and we will be happy to help or put you in touch with someone who can. You can email us at email@example.com and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.
From all of the Enquiries Team we wish you good luck and an amazing time in Bristol!
One of our postgraduates, Rosie, talks about her role as an Ambassador at the University.
What are you studying at Bristol?
I am currently three years into a PhD in synthetic biology at the University of Bristol. My PhD is a lab-based research project on bacteria that make plastics, and I spend most of my day in the lab or at my desk reading and analysing data. I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh and so choosing to move to a new university and a new city was an exciting step.
Why did you apply to be a Postgraduate Student Ambassador?
Last year I applied to be a Postgraduate Student Ambassador so that I could try to help answer the questions that I wish I had asked when I was applying. Being a prospective student to a new university can be a daunting process, and I really wanted to be part of something that makes it easier. Often these roles are filled by master’s students and I think it is important to ensure there is some PhD representation too. The PhD postgraduate experience can be slightly different to a master’s, and the additional few years here has given me extra insight about both the city and the University to share with incoming postgraduate students – I didn’t discover my favourite bakery until last year!
What sort of things do you get up to in the role?
Being a Postgraduate Student Ambassador is a great way of earning some extra money while still being able to complete my lab work. Each job is individually applied for, which means I can work flexibly around my timetable and only apply for work when I know I have the time. The jobs themselves are also quite varied; from an hour-long online chat, to whole-day events like open days, so there is something to suit every schedule. Each day is slightly different – you could find yourself giving tours around campus, answering questions on an information stand, and talking on a Q&A panel session in a single day! These events often include preparing the space before and after events, and so as well as getting to know other students, it also allows you to meet members of staff in both the Postgraduate Recruitment office, and at the location you are working.
What do you enjoy most about the role?
Working with other ambassadors has been a fun way to meet other students, especially those in humanities subjects that I would be unlikely to meet otherwise. The team work together all year round, so you get to see the same faces month after month and make friends. I found the more I expanded my network of people at Bristol the more interesting events, cafes, and places I learnt about. This also gives me more information to pass onto perspective students.
Why would you recommend the role to others?
I would recommend postgraduate students who are friendly and engaging to apply to be a Student Ambassador. If you’re looking for flexible work, can take initiative, and like speaking about your university experience this is the perfect job for you!
Here at the University of Bristol, we’re working hard to develop the best possible blended-learning curriculum for this academic year, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This will see a mixture of small face-to-face group teaching and mentoring with an innovative and engaging online learning aspect.
But, what is learning online like? For many prospective postgraduate students, you may not have ever studied online, and we understand this might be unsettling and leave you wondering whether you’ll still receive high quality teaching. We want you to know that if you still want to study in 2020, you don’t have to put your postgraduate plans on pause – but don’t just take it from us.
We’ve been chatting to Katherine and Jess, current students on our MA Translation, which is taught completely online. While the blended learning curriculum will still have an aspect of face-to-face teaching, we hope their experiences of studying online will help many of you find out a bit more about online learning.
Tell us about your motivations for choosing the MA Translation…
Katherine: Having just had my first child, I was looking for a career change into a field in which working could be flexible around family life. With an undergraduate degree in French and Spanish and a passion for languages, translation was always something that had interested me. Researching Translation MA courses and looking into the career further convinced me that it was the path I wanted to take. The MA Translation at Bristol appealed to me because it was fully online, so I could take the course from home, it had part-time options that I could fit around parenting and the University has an outstanding reputation. I also love the city and visit fairly regularly so it was appealing to me that I could make use of the University’s facilities when I am there.
Jess:Having studied my undergraduate degree online with the Open University, I was already comfortable with distance learning when I started my online MA in Translation. I had different reasons for choosing to study each of my degrees online. For my undergraduate degree, it was simply because I was disappointed by the experience of going to university at 18. I felt that it was too similar to school, and I was ready to be out in the world! During my first year, I left and spent some time working and travelling. When I settled in one place after a couple of years, I started studying online, because I didn’t want to lose the freedom that I had to be in charge of my own schedule. I’ve always loved working and being self-sufficient, and I didn’t want to lose that, or to have to arrange work around uni.
Studying online suited me perfectly, and there were optional in-person tutorials where I met other students. The flexibility was great for me; while studying, I changed jobs a couple of times, trained to be a piano teacher, started a business, moved house a few times, trained to be an English teacher, and then moved to Spain. Which brings me to the Masters!
How does your programme provide you with the high-quality teaching you expect?
Katherine: Teaching on the course has been delivered in a number of ways, from video calls with my tutor, podcasts from my lecturers, audio-visual presentations delivered by other students and written course notes. I think the most effective learning I have done has been through the comprehensive feedback received on my own work as well as the opportunity to read other students’ work.
Do you also get the opportunity to work with your fellow students, despite it being an online programme?
Katherine: The Blackboard Online Learning Environment provides a forum for the group to share ideas, we all submit exercises and are actively encouraged to feedback to one another. I have learnt a great deal from other students’ work and quite often we share our individual feedback on the forum too, so we can learn from each other’s feedback. I feel that technology allows us to work together and collaborate effectively.
Jess: Another student once sent me an email after a funny exchange we had on Blackboard, and since then, we’ve been in touch regularly and will definitely meet in person once travel is back on the cards!
What’s your favourite thing about your programme?
Katherine: My favourite thing about the programme is that it can be flexible around my other commitments. I’m doing the course part-time which works for me as it allows me to complete paid work alongside the course.
Jess: It’s different from my previous experience in that interaction with other students is a big part of the course. That is my favourite part of it – we look at each other’s translations and discuss them on Blackboard. The tutors also join the discussions, so we receive regular feedback from them.
Have you had any problems with the online aspect of the programme?
Katherine: The only slight challenge I have come across is access to relevant course books that are not online. The vast majority of the necessary material can be found via the library online so this is rarely a problem, but I would just say that it takes a little organisation to check which books you may wish to access that aren’t online. You can then submit a request to the library who will post them out to you.
Do you have any tips or advice for prospective postgraduate students who may be daunted by the blended-learning approach for this year?
Katherine: My advice would be to consider the positive aspects that online learning can bring, such as the flexibility. It’s also important to take into account that the skills being learnt through online learning will be extremely useful in the majority of the careers/study that students move on to. So many careers and study opportunities require competence in remote working, using technology and learning to familiarise yourself with different online platforms. I also feel that successful completion of online learning demonstrates your motivation, organisation and adaptability to potential future employers.
Jess: If you’re new to studying online and you’re feeling nervous, or you’re worried about what you might be missing out on, I would urge you to think about how to make the most of the benefits! You can still meet your fellow students and form real friendships. As long as you manage your time and keep up with your work, studying online is so rewarding and gives you the freedom to develop other interests and areas of your life. I hope you enjoy it!
We’ve been asking current postgraduate, Lixuan, some questions about settling in to postgraduate life at Bristol.
At our upcoming undergraduate to postgraduate live chat, you can talk to postgraduate ambassadors like Lixuan so that you make an informed decision about undertaking postgraduate study. If you already know you’re coming to Bristol, chatting to our ambassadors can help you be prepared to start your postgraduate journey when you arrive.
What has the difference from undergraduate study to postgraduate study been like for you?
Coming from a chemistry background in undergraduate study, the course content in MSc Biomedical Sciences Research is a completely different discipline. I find it challenging but interesting as this is where my interests lie. The main thing that sparked my interest are the depth and breadth of my lecturers’ knowledge. They always speak about the topic with so much enthusiasm that us students cannot help but get involved in as well. I was also unprepared with how much self-directed studying we have, although help is always available from our personal tutor and programme director.
I find that you have to take a lot of initiative to be able to make the best out of your master’s programme. You can apply for internships or attachments, get career advice, and join workshops to prepare yourself for the future; but if and only if you take the initiative to follow through. I have the chance to have an attachment in the field I’m interested in, thanks to a lot of hustling! From my point of view, the opportunities for personal and career growth are never lacking in UoB.
“You can apply for internships or attachments, get career advice, and join workshops to prepare yourself for the future; but if and only if you take the initiative to follow through.”
How did you find settling in to the city of Bristol?
I find the experience of being in Bristol novel and thrilling, as this is my first time being away from my home country for longer than 6 months. Bristol is a truly amazing place to explore your passions, especially if you appreciate art and music. Travel-wise, it is the best base to go to London, Bath, Salisbury and other nearby places of interest. Bristol airport also has cheap flights to many other countries which makes it easy to catch the travel bug. For me personally, Bristol is busy enough to be fascinating but not too hectic that I feel drained living here. The accommodation I’m currently living in is tip-top as well and a stone’s throw away from the city centre.
“Bristol is a truly amazing place to explore your passions, especially if you appreciate art and music. Travel-wise, it is the best base to go to London, Bath, Salisbury and other nearby places of interest.”
How did you find the first few months of postgraduate life?
The first few months in postgraduate study flew by so fast. We had classes, assignments and exams to study for. Socially, there are University activities every week and hang-outs with friends, so there’s never a quiet weekend. I wish I knew how much work we had to do and how to schedule my time effectively before starting the course. However, this is a skill I’m learning on my own as the course continues. I would have warned myself to layer up more in winter, as the cold chill is not fun most of the time!
What is the role of a PG ambassador? Why is it helpful to talk to an ambassador before you arrive?
A PG ambassador aims to use his/her own personal experience to provide a reference for prospective students. It would have been great to have a graduate from my current programme to talk to prior to coming to the University. An ambassador could provide unique insights in not only the academic aspect but the after hours student life: where is the cheapest place for lunch, the hidden nook in libraries, best pub for live jazz etc., which for me makes the student experience worthwhile.
All in all, studying in UoB is a challenge, which is expected from a top 50 university. Academically, this is one of the best universities to be in. Socially, you will most definitely find your crowd in and out of the University.
Current postgraduate student, Meera, gives us an insight into the typical life of a postgraduate at Bristol.
I have classes from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. My programme – MSc Public Health – has opened my eyes to the vast potential and relevance of the subject and field. My professors come from a variety of schools within the University, ensuring what we learn is not guided by a linear perspective. The lectures are well-supplemented with practicals which give a well-rounded learning experience. Constant engagement with students coming from a range of academic, social and cultural backgrounds allows me to exchange knowledge, understand new ideas, build teamwork-related skills and practise cultural relativism.
It can be nerve-wracking to be in a new environment; however, my coursemates, other students and professors have always lent me a helping hand. The libraries felt comfortable and managed to incentivise study. I enjoy the vast collection of books and hope to find leisure-based reading when I find some extra time!
“Studies occupy a significant portion of my time, but I also undertake part-time work to learn new skills, engage with people and earn a little on the side!”
I work on assignments and revise taught coursework throughout the week to ensure I am on track. When in doubt, the professors are ready with solutions. Studies occupy a significant portion of my time, but I also undertake part-time work to learn new skills, engage with people and earn a little on the side! It feels encouraging to know I can contribute as a Postgraduate Student Ambassador, and I am able to learn and recognise my potential every day.
Having made some friends from my home country, I make it a point to meet with them once a week to balance the workload. Familiarity is comforting and reinstills motivation and confidence in me to get my work done. The course has helped me connect with individuals from various nationalities and cultures and recognise cultural similarities and differences.
“The course has helped me connect with individuals from various nationalities and cultures and recognise cultural similarities and differences.”
The Bristol International Student Centre has become my go-to place on days when cooking seems tiring and the BISC menu is delicious. I have managed to meet interesting people over their weekly Friday lunches, which makes University seem more fun. Bristol is a beautiful place to explore, and I purposefully make time to diversify my food palate, visit the famous tourist places and reconnect with nature!
The number of clubs and societies I had the opportunity to join was incredible. Considering my coursework, I managed to follow through with only three – the Indian society (which helped me remain rooted in my culture by being regularly involved in cultural festivals and other events), Bristol Sikh Society (whose weekly gurudwara/Sikh temple visits helped nourish in me a feeling of seva/working with compassion) and Krishna Consciousness Society (which helped me embrace the everlasting teachings of my holy scriptures). Bristol has truly proved to be a welcoming place for me and is lovable in all respects (excepting the cold weather)!
“Bristol has truly proved to be a welcoming place for me and is lovable in all respects (excepting the cold weather)!”
As we head into the New Year, many of us will be setting resolutions to make 2020 count. We’ve been talking to current student Harry, studying an MSc in Climate Change Science and Policy, about his resolutions and plans to make the most of his time left studying in Bristol.
I’m Harry, I’m studying an MSc in Climate Change Science and Policy and I’m having a great time at Bristol so far! Here are my five New Year’s Resolutions:
1. Learn some new skills in the Magic Society
Having been doing magic on and off for about five years now, this is the first time I’ve been around other magicians and I’ve loved it. So far, I’ve really enjoyed teaching some sleight of hand and card magic to newbie magicians and saw them doing the tricks I taught at our first show. But I want to try my hand at something different. A couple of the society members are really good at stage magic – bigger tricks with vanishes and changes – so I would love to learn from them how to do some routines that I could put towards a society stage show later in the year.
“…next year I want to branch out more and use the libraries so I can work with friends and experience the aesthetic of the beautiful Wills Memorial Building”
2. Use the libraries more
My lecturers are great at giving our reading material online, so lots of my work has been done at home, where I have my perfect desk set-up. But next year I want to branch out more and use the libraries so I can work with friends and experience the aesthetic of the beautiful Wills Memorial Building. The Wills also has all the dissertations from my course for the last few years so being able to go through them will be very useful for thinking about what to do for my own.
Now I’ve got my teeth into my degree and am comfortable with my workload I need to start thinking about the future. I’ve spoken to a few friends who have said the Careers Service have been a great help for them; thinking about what to apply for, how to write great applications, and even with just helping to get a good LinkedIn profile. I’ll also start checking the Careers Fair Plus app that the University uses to see if there are any events that I would like to go to.
“I’ve spoken to a few friends who have said the Careers Service have been a great help for them”
4. Explore the city
Living quite close to campus in my accommodation has been great for getting into classes quickly, but I’m yet to have a wander around much, and judging from the view from Cabot Tower there’s plenty to see. The picturesque Clifton Village will definitely be on my to-do list. I would really like to go to the Bristol Zoo as well, the glass-floored gorilla house seems like a very strange yet fantastic experience.
“I’m yet to have a wander around much and judging from the view from Cabot Tower, there’s plenty to see”
5. Get involved more with the University
I’ve had a great experience at the University so far, so I’m keen to help others experience it, too. That’s why I’m going to be doing this virtual event next term to talk about these great things and hope that others come to Bristol and experience them.