When applying for postgraduate study as well as assessing your academic record and qualifications, admission tutors will be looking at your experience. Professional and practical experience isn’t something that can be quantified in the same way as a grade, so you need to make sure you present it clearly and explain how it relates to the course or research programme you’re applying for.
Approach it like a job application
When it comes to explaining your relevant work experience, the best way to think about it is as though you are writing a job application. Treat it like the covering letter, linking your experience in your current and/or former roles to the course you are applying for.
Just like a job application, you should tailor it for different courses. If you are applying to more than one university, make sure you amend your personal statement to be relevant to each individual course or research programme.
Look outside your professional career
Although you will no doubt have gained a wealth of valuable experience during your career to date, you may also have relevant skills outside of your profession.
If you regularly volunteer, are a member of a relevant society or club, or have spent time developing your knowledge of a particular subject, it can be worth including this in your personal statement.
Obviously, any experience you mention needs to relate to your chosen area of study. If it isn’t directly relevant - but you have developed transferable skills as a result – you can still include it. Just make sure you put the focus on your skills, rather than the experience itself.
Take time to plan your answers
In many cases, you'll be asked to provide some supplementary information to support your application. If you're applying for a Master's straight after completing an undergraduate degree, this is a brilliant opportunity to showcase your knowledge of and passion for your specialism.
This will usually be in the form of questions relating to the course or subject area you're applying for. In the same way that you would write a personal statement, take some time to think about the answers you give. Make them specific to the course you're applying for and, where relevant, give examples from your undergraduate studies to enhance your application.
What are we looking for?
In some circumstances, your experience and passion for a subject can be just as important as your academic qualifications in determining whether we offer you a place. We want students who are motivated to succeed, and we assess applications based on your likelihood to perform well as a postgraduate student, as much as on your previous achievements.
Bearing this in mind, it is important to show us not only how your experience relates to the subject you’re interested in studying, but also how it will help you make the transition to university life and succeed in a learning environment. This is particularly important if you have been away from academia for a number of years. Leaving the world of work behind to become a student can be challenging but is incredibly rewarding and we offer support throughout your studies to overcome any challenges you may face