What postgraduate study is like

Postgraduate study enables you to take your career to the next level, through in-depth study in a particular area of interest. It helps you take your prior experience and knowledge, and use your initiative as you research, and contribute to your field of expertise. It requires planning, dedication and will take time away from your everyday life, but ultimately your hard work could open the door to new opportunities and greater responsibility.

How postgraduate study differs from undergraduate study

During your undergraduate study, you will have learned many of the skills required to study successfully at postgraduate level. However, it is important to realise that postgraduate study requires greater independence, and you'll need to use your own initiative in completing course work and undertaking research projects. 

Knowledge of the subject area
You can begin undergraduate study with little to no knowledge or experience in the subject matter. For postgraduate study, you'll be expected to have some knowledge and prior experience.
Guidance available
Undergraduate studies are strongly guided, with pointers to relevant materials and resources. Guidance is available in postgraduate programmes, but students are expected to take more initiative and responsibility for their own progress.
Standard of written work
During undergraduate study, students learn about academic writing, referencing, and other conventions. Students in postgraduate programmes are held to higher standards in terms of written expression and knowledge of the conventions of academic work, such as referencing.
Grounding study in theory and research
Undergraduate study often provides a broad overview of theory related to a particular field. Postgraduate study is more strongly focused on theory and research in the discipline. Many postgraduate qualifications have a research component.
Research skills
Students in undergraduate programmes are expected to be able to read and make sense of the arguments presented to them, then demonstrate critical thinking. Postgraduate study requires a higher level of critical thinking and analysis, with students expected to demonstrate wide reading, develop their own views, and defend them.

You’ll generally be expected to have some knowledge and prior experience in your subject area, however postgraduate study can also be used to support a career transition. As an example, a person with a science PhD may contemplate an MBA. You’ll be supported and encouraged by your supervisors in a range of ways, but in many circumstances, you’ll be in the driving seat when it comes to getting work done.

Postgraduate study is more strongly focused on theory and research in the discipline, and many postgraduate qualifications have a research component. You’ll also be expected to possess a higher level of critical thinking and analysis, show that you read extensively, and can develop your own views, and defend them.

Postgraduate study preview

The following preview is a guide to an example of a postgraduate programme delivered by the Institute of Education. It provides an overview of the kind of materials provided, the skills needed, and the time commitment required to study this kind of programme. Take the opportunity to view this material and consider how this fits with your expectations of what postgraduate study would involve. Even if you are not studying with the Institute of Education, this will provide you with a guide to postgraduate study at Massey.

Are you ready for postgraduate study?

Postgraduate study requires time, commitment, and a range of skills beyond those you may have needed as an undergraduate. We have provided a series of online tools and resources to help you think about the different aspects of studying at a distance, and to assess your abilities, time commitments and motivations for study. 

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