I won’t lie, choosing which university to go to for postgraduate study was relatively easy for me. Ever since leaving Sheffield University after completing my undergraduate degree, I knew I wanted to return to study Science Communication. However, I did look at other universities to see what they might have offered me as well. I knew I wanted to study Science Communication, but wanted to get practical experience within the field, not just study the theory.
I researched which other universities offered the same course and made tentative email enquiries about whether or not I could apply (I had obtained a 2:2 in my undergraduate degree). Because of this, I had to make up the shortfall in order to ensure I could get a place. I also felt that after my undergrad it was worth my time to enter the real world again and try to earn some money for a change (my bank account was not looking very healthy at that point!)
I decided to start a blog where I would write science communication articles, giving me some much needed practical experience. This was a very fun experience, as I could arrange when I would write, keeping it a passion rather than a chore. In addition, I volunteered with my local CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) to help with the launch of their ‘Healthy Liverpool’ campaign. There, I helped new charities, and ones already established, to create a greater presence on social media and put their messages across to a wider audience, helping them advertise in the process.
This gave me a lot of examples to use for my personal statement, to show how I had used my year out to boost my application for postgraduate study. I put my being at university now down to the experience I got for myself during this time. Though this is not to say you can’t immediately go from undergraduate to postgraduate study without a gap year. If you are thinking of this, but worried about a lack of experience, look at the opportunities available at your Students’ Union. Chances are there will be a society that looks interesting and is relevant to your postgrad course...
Jonathan Cooke, MSc Science Communication