February 17, 2014, by Beth Dawson

Follow your head or your heart – why not both?

Have you seen the booklets and posters around campus advertising Study What You Love? Or have you noticed the hashtag #studywhatyoulove on Twitter? Encouraging people to pursue their academic passion is at the heart of this campaign, so if you’re thinking of postgraduate study, why not study what you love?

“Studying for a PhD is a varied and greatly rewarding experience, it can be hard work but also hugely enjoyable and no two days are the same” (Rebecca Maryan, PhD)

No matter where you take your postgraduate degree, studying a subject you’re passionate about will make the work seem easier! If you’re taking a course about something you are fascinated by, your work will be less likely to feel like a series of tasks and more like lots of interesting investigations. You’ll be more likely to be willing to expend time and energy towards something you find fulfilling and enjoyable.

“Study what you love at university, whatever your subject may be. Fiercely debate with those who try and deny your passions” (Nathan Waddell, Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature)

While postgraduate qualifications are required to enter some sectors such as law, teaching and librarianship, they are not a formal requirement in others, however the additional experience may boost your career prospects. Be sure to research your preferred sector of work and find out whether a postgraduate qualification would be beneficial.

Likewise, don’t be put off if the subject doesn’t have an obvious career attached to it.  During a postgraduate degree you will gain lots of transferable skills, such as critical thinking, analytical, negotiation and project management skills. For example, over the last three years, Nottingham graduates with a postgraduate degree from the Faculty of Arts have gone onto hold positions such as research and policy officer (Higher Education Funding Council for England), data analyst (Deloitte) and audience research assistant (BBC Wales).

“I thoroughly enjoyed my undergraduate course, and wanted to continue studying a subject that I love” (Katherine Haywood, PhD)

Postgraduate study requires financial commitment, so when deciding on what course you want to do, be sure to contact your chosen institution to find out if they can offer you any funding opportunities, such as scholarships. Our funding pages and Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding are great examples of the kind of financial support that’s available. It is also worth noting that, on average, someone with a masters degree will earn £5, 500 more a year than someone with a bachelors degree and comparable work experience*.

If you want to apply for further study, we have a range of materials on our website to help you choose your course, make an application and research funding. If you are unsure about whether postgraduate study is for you, book an appointment with a member of our team via My Career

To find out more information about the Study What You Love campaign visit the website or blog, here you can read the full posts from which Rebecca’s, Nathan’s and Katherine’s quotes are from. 

*”The Postgraduate Premium: Revisiting trends in social mobility and educational inequalities in Britain and America”, The Sutton Trust, February 2013

Posted in Careers AdviceEarly Career ResearchersPhD StudentsPostgraduate Taught Students