How COVID-19 has altered the way we work and learn

As part of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities, we pride ourselves on the high standard of our research output. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve focused much of our efforts into contributing to the research that helps us understand the coronavirus and the impact it has on our lives. This in turn has had an impact on the ways that many in our staff and student community work and learn.


Gaining real-world knowledge

Vishal, MSc Public Health

For some of our master’s students, the real-world events that have been unfolding over the last year have directly impacted their learning experience. For example, Vishal, from our MSc Public Health, has been taking part in theoretical tasks which critically assess what sections of society should receive vaccines first.

It’s very surreal. It‘s happening in reality and we are the ones who would be working in the background in the future.”

Vishal is going to take this combination of theoretical understanding and practical knowledge forward with him into the future and hopes to work for the World Health Organisation.

Are you considering studying a master’s with us? Register for our virtual events running throughout March to find out more.


Academics in the public eye

The pandemic has thrown many of our academics into the limelight. The far-reaching impacts of COVID-19 can be assessed from the perspective of any discipline or subject area, ranging from science, to policy studies to economics. Here’s a few examples of the research being conducted at Bristol:

  • In a ground-breaking study, a team of researchers headed by Professor Christiane Schaffitzel from Bristol’s School of Biochemistry and Professor Imre Berger from the Max Planck-Bristol Centre for Minimal Biology, discovered a ‘druggable pocket’ in the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein that could stop the virus in its tracks. This discovery led the team to being hailed the ‘Pride of Bristol‘!
  • If you’ve been glued to the news like us, you might have seen or heard from Professor Adam Finn. Professor Finn is a Professor of Pediatrics at Bristol and has been featuring in interviews for a variety of media channels. Recently, Professor Finn has contributed to the creation of the COVID-19 Vaccination Communication Handbook, has been running a number of vaccine trials here in Bristol and he has been helping our student community by featuring in mythbusting videos.
  • Researchers in the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) at Bristol led the analysis of seven trials which found that corticosteroids reduce risk of death by 20 per cent in critically ill COVID-19 patients.
  • Perhaps you’ve come across Dr Nilufar Ahmed, a Lecturer in Social Sciences here at Bristol. Dr Ahmed has produced work which will help us understand the impact of COVID-19 on BAME and marginalised communities, the response of communities to government advice, and the mental health crisis that will hit services as a result of the pandemic. Dr Ahmed has also recently been interviewed by the BBC to provide advice on how to be healthy and productive while we continue to work at home.
  • Many of our academics have been working to understand how our economy will be affected, including Dr Daniel Tischer, a Lecturer in our School of Management. Dr Tischer has been researching into the way the pandemic may speed up our inevitable move to a cashless society.
  • Thanks to a collaborative project which included a team from the University of Bristol last year, singing was deemed no more risky than talking. This study is crucial in providing guidance on how we can safely begin to attend live musical performances once again.

These are just some examples of the work of our diverse research community, consisting of postgraduates, staff and academics from a variety of disciplines. We’ve also partnered with institutions in over 40 countries around the globe, ensuring we are drawing on the expertise and knowledge of the very best teams. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted just how important the role that universities play is in our society, and we are proud to have such an amazing team of staff and students, working together to combat the virus.

Behind the scenes: Bristol Students’ Union

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.


It’s not too late to apply

Did you know that many of our programmes are still open for applications to start in this academic year? While 2020 may continue to try to throw our plans off course, we’ve got some guidance for you to complete that last minute application and make 2020 count.

1. Choose your programme:

Browse the online programme finder to see what programmes you are still eligible to apply for. Note that many of the deadlines are in mid-August!

2. Begin your application:

You’ll need to use our online application system to apply. Entry requirements can be found in the admissions statement for your chosen programme.

3. Upload your supporting documents:

Whichever programme you’re applying for, there are standard documents that you need to provide with your application. Please check the admissions statement for specific requirements, such as whether you’re required to identify an area of research that you’re interested in.

4. Submit your application:

Make sure you’ve uploaded all the necessary documentation, and read through your application. Some programmes may also require an application fee.

5. Check your progress:

For taught postgraduate programmes, we aim to make a decision on complete applications within 21 days. For research programmes, we aim to get in touch with you within five days. You can check the progress of your application using our online application system.

If you’re unsure about whether the blended learning approach for this academic year will suit you, we understand. Keep checking our COVID-19 advice page for prospective students, and why not read about some of our current students’ experiences of online learning: Katherine and Jess – Our experience of online learning.

If you have any questions about the application process, we’re available to chat. Our telephone lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday on +44 (0)117 394 1649, or you can email us at You can also find application guidance in this short video.


Have you put your postgraduate plans on pause?

In this time of uncertainty, it’s only natural to feel as though you need to put your future plans on pause. The postgraduate team, here at the University of Bristol, want you to know that we are still on hand to help you progress to postgraduate study in 2020.

Our work hasn’t been put on hold, and your future needn’t be put on hold either.

We’re just about getting the hang of working from home: we’ve mastered the video meetings and are settling in to the new ways of working. While children and pets might be making our working days slightly louder, we’re still available to answer any questions you have and can assure you that if you want to begin your postgraduate journey with us, we’ll be here to help you do just that.

Firstly, we’d like to invite you to some new live chat events that we’re really excited about! You can access the live chats from wherever you are in the world, and they’re a great way to ask us your questions about postgraduate study at Bristol.

The live chats are being hosted by the Arts and Social Sciences and Law faculties, and each day will see a different school within the faculty taking part. Chat to our experts, academics and current students to find out all you need to know about our master’s programmes.

Arts week live chats, 27 to 30 April

Social Sciences and Law week live chats, 4 to 7 May

To get the most out of these events, it might be useful to come prepared with a couple of questions. You’ll also be able to see the answers that the team make live throughout the chat, so you could even learn about something you hadn’t thought of yourself!

Later on in the year, we’ll also be hosting another set of virtual events with more of our faculties. Register your interest to be notified when further details are available.

If you want to crack on with your application now, go ahead! Our application process is hosted online, and there is guidance and advice on our website. If you need to ask us anything, our enquiries team can still be contacted on, or on +44 (0) 117 394 1649.

During these strange and unsettling times, the postgraduate team are working just as closely together as we always have done, despite being scattered around the city and surrounding area. Get in touch with us whenever you need to, keep working towards your goals, and stay safe.

With best wishes,

The Postgraduate Team


My favourite things about postgraduate study

Current postgraduate student, Ffion, lists her five favourite things about studying her master’s at Bristol.

1. The programme

What I like most about my master’s programme (MA Law) is that it’s almost entirely seminar-led which leaves the sessions open to a lot of free discussion. As a group we talk about what we found most interesting or challenging in the reading and our tutors will point us in the right direction. This is not only a great way to learn but also keeps things interesting, as where the session goes is completely up to us.

“Our lecturers are open to our ideas and are very supportive and happy to listen if you have a different perspective on something.”

2. Independence

There’s an independence I’ve experienced at postgraduate study that isn’t matched at undergraduate, even within a taught course. Our lecturers are open to our ideas and are very supportive and happy to listen if you have a different perspective on something.

Overall, I’m enjoying postgraduate study more because I feel more independent from the University. While the staff and lecturers are there when you need them, studying at postgraduate level means you’ve made a choice to invest in your future, so the whole learning experience is really what you make of it.

“…studying at postgraduate level means you’ve made a choice to invest in your future, so the whole learning experience is really what you make of it.”

3. The people

For me, one of my favourite but least expected things that I’ve loved about postgraduate study is the people. I think making friends has been easier and more relaxed outside of the freshers-bubble that is often a source of pressure for people at undergraduate. I’ve really got to know people I’m working with very quickly. Although it may be something that people find daunting when starting postgraduate study – especially if you studied undergraduate elsewhere – it’s actually been a highlight.

I’ve also met people from vastly different backgrounds studying for very different reasons. People choose to study at postgraduate level for a number of reasons; some have already had jobs, others are fresh out of university or might have had a break for a year or two. The range of students and where people are in their lives makes meeting new people more interesting as you learn from each others’ experiences.

“I’ve really got to know people I’m working with very quickly. Although it may be something that people find daunting when starting postgraduate study – especially if you studied undergraduate elsewhere – it’s actually been a highlight.”

4. The city

Bristol is a city that I’ve always been excited by and wanted to move to. It’s a very progressive place with a lot of jobs in entrepreneurship, a growing technical industry, and (lucky for me) a large legal hub. One thing that I love about the city is their recycling scheme, it’s extremely efficient and you can recycle almost anything; what else would you expect from Britain’s greenest city, which also boasts top cycling numbers and smart city status in 2019?!

5. Beyond student life

What I’ve really enjoyed about moving to Bristol is that there’s a lot going on beyond the student hub, so it’s not just club nights and socials like in many university cities. The local community is very busy here. Whether it’s the Science Museum and Planetarium, Bristol’s first zero waste shop in Bedminster, or UPFEST (Europe’s largest street art festival); you’re able to take advantage of the city itself in addition to University events. As I’m hoping to live here after I graduate that’s been really valuable.

To get more insight from current postgraduate students, register for a virtual event and chat to students like Ffion!


Choosing Bristol for postgraduate study

Current postgraduate student, Dionysia, talks about the steps she took when choosing Bristol for postgraduate study.

Learn more about postgraduate study at Bristol by registering for our virtual events. Talk to current students like Dionysia, as well as experts in admissions and funding for tips and advice on the application process and financing your postgraduate degree.


How did you go about choosing Bristol as your postgraduate study option? 

When I was applying for my postgraduate studies, there were a number of things I had in mind. Once I had all the questions I wanted to ask about each particular university, I searched online for course structure, student satisfaction, academic staff and university rankings. I found the answers to most of my academic enquiries online, but I still wanted to find out more about the student experience in Bristol as I felt that this would offer me a more complete representation of the University and perhaps my course. Academic curricula are important to me, but I personally look for a more rounded and inclusive student experience.

 “Rankings certainly contributed to making this decision; Bristol has consistently been in the top 10 UK universities for an impressive period of time.”

What did you want to know before choosing Bristol? 

Having completed my undergraduate degree, I had a rough idea of what study methods are more conducive to my learning. I wanted to get some more information on the course structure, materials, contact hours per week, seminars, tutorials etc. Importantly, I wanted to know if the department I was applying to offered students the opportunity to choose their modules and dissertation topics.

What avenues did you use to learn about Bristol?  

To get some extra information on the student facilities and my department, I browsed the University’s official website; it is by far the fastest and most accurate source of information. Bristol’s website is very detailed and user friendly, which made this process significantly easier. There are multiple links directing you to sections which address your questions and answer relevant queries that other students have had in the past.

What helped you to make your decision? 

Rankings certainly contributed to making this decision; Bristol has consistently been in the top 10 UK universities for an impressive period of time. Apart from that, I found the discussions that I had during the open day to be extremely insightful. They gave me a real summary of what it is like to be a postgraduate student in Bristol, touching on a number of non-academic issues such as student societies, accessibility, nightlife, and the facilities available to students. The open day was paramount to my decision; I would highly encourage prospective students to pay a visit and speak to postgraduate ambassadors about their experience in Bristol.

“The open day was paramount to my decision; I would highly encourage prospective students to pay a visit and speak to postgraduate ambassadors about their experience in Bristol.”

Why are you getting involved with the virtual visit? 

I’m excited about the virtual visit; it’s a great opportunity to share my experience as a postgraduate student in Bristol to prospective students that cannot visit our campus. Through the virtual visit, I hope I can help prospective students to make their choice, answering questions about the city, student facilities and services, finances and much more. This will also be an ideal opportunity to get the best tips about libraries, affordable food and drink, employability and numerous other aspects of postgraduate life that many wished they knew before they started their programme.

 “I’m excited about the virtual visit; it’s a great opportunity to share my experience as a postgraduate student in Bristol to prospective students that cannot visit our campus.”

What do you hope people will get out of the virtual visit? 

I hope people see how much we value student satisfaction in Bristol. There are several teams in the University that are specifically addressing issues around the quality of studies and constantly ask students to give feedback. Through the virtual visit, I hope our participants get an idea of what postgraduate student life is like in Bristol and that it helps them to make their decision to come here!


Why do a master’s?

Perhaps for many people, studying abroad is to get a degree, however, for me, pursuing master’s degree is the first step to achieve my ultimate dream of becoming a professor in Accounting and Finance. I believe that coming to University of Bristol is the best decision that I have ever made. 

“Soon, that curiosity turned into interest, and then into passion as my college years flew by. I fell in love with financial theories…”

In high school, I was originally a chemistry specialised student and had once yearned to become a doctor. I wanted to become a doctor not because it is my passion but because it is considered one of the most prestigious jobs in Vietnam. With such a career, I would be able to financially support my younger brother and my soon-to-be-retired parents, who were struggling to save up enough money for my college’s tuition. 

However, because my college entrance examination’s score was just half a point below the requirement for medical schoolsmy goal was shattered. Without much hope, decided to apply for another major that I was curious about: accounting and financeSoon, that curiosity turned into interest, and then into passion as my college years flew by. I fell in love with financial theories, with doing research with professors at school and with every moment I stood in front of students as a teaching assistant. I realised that this is the career path that I wanted. Becoming a professor in Accounting and Finance was what I needed to pursue. Therefore, I decided to go for graduate school to realise my dream, to continue to conduct research, to teach and inspire the next generations of students. 

“Here, I could also learn from many famous professors that I had long admired…”

I chose University of Bristol because it waa great place to start my journey and the master’s program in Accounting and Finance here is suitable for those who are passionate in doing research and pursuing a Doctoral degree in the future like me. In the first semester at University of BristolI was taught some of the most basic subjects in research, from understanding how many types of research or how to evaluate the quality of a research paper, to studying subjects related to statistics to be able to design a model before writing a full paper. Here, could also learn from many famous professors that I had long admired such as Professor Chris Chapman, my Research Design and Qualitative Research Methods in Accounting and Finance teacher.  

Of course, the path to become a great researcher and professor is still very long. For now, I am proud that I dared to make every effort to walk slowly but steadily along the way to conquering that big dream. Graduate school is the first challenge and the first opportunity for me to turn that dream into reality. And of course, I believe I can do it. 

 Written by Lan, Accounting and Finance MSc


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