Accepted for a Master's degree. Now what?
April 27, 2018 6:33 PM   Subscribe

After being out of full-time study for over a decade, I now have an unconditional offer on a taught Master's degree. I'm excited, but it's come as a bit of a surprise and I'm feeling very unprepared. What can I do to get back up to speed between now and September?

I finished my undergraduate degree in 2005, and that was in a similar but different field (my bachelor's is in law, master's will be in politics/international relations) so I feel like I have some catching up to do - especially as I didn't do brilliantly in my bachelor's, academically speaking. So far I've picked up a handful of common recommended texts from other universities' undergraduate reading lists but I'm worried more about the process of studying at a postgrad level and the academic skills I've lost.

I appreciate that a lot of this is just anxiety, and that's natural, but I'd also like to make sure I'm as prepared as I need to be. Thankfully I have a reasonable amount of free time between now and starting the course in September. Any tips on where I should start?
posted by A Robot Ninja to Education (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I did something similar a few years ago, and did an undergraduate course or two while I was applying to grad school, just to get my head back into it. Given the timelines, I understand that might not be possible, but could you audit a course, maybe?
posted by peppermind at 6:48 PM on April 27, 2018

Ask someone in your faculty, or graduate advisor, for a reading list of material they like their students to be familiar with as advanced background, or to whet your curiosity. Look up & peruse the faculty's publications (books, journal articles).
posted by lathrop at 6:58 PM on April 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

"How to read a (good) book in one hour" and "Writing a summary or rhetorical précis to analyze nonfiction texts" come to mind as brief, relevant thoughts on study skills. Maybe put some of the research coming out of your future department on your reading list. But also, enjoy the moment, aim at something modest and sustainable, and generally speaking keep the prep work fun.
posted by Wobbuffet at 7:04 PM on April 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Get a copy of an old syllabus.
posted by deludingmyself at 9:54 PM on April 27, 2018

Another thing you might do is look for IR/politics blogs run by academics, which will often give you good critical reviews and a quick sense of the state of the art, so to speak. Look for youtubed conference panels. Maybe write to one of your possible lecturers and ask if you could do a small research job for them to sharpen those skills. Syllabi, as above: there are a couple of academic writing and research courses out there, though probably they'll be structured around writing a practice research paper (which, imo, is the best way to prepare anyway.)
posted by ahundredjarsofsky at 12:51 AM on April 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

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