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My tips to enhance your postgrad application

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...

Also look at your department or the department of where you want to study, there is probably a way or person who would like/love to help you get a rung up on the experience ladder. One thing my course has taught me is that most people are happy to help if you simply ask. It can’t hurt the personal statement to say you’ve already contacted the course leaders to ask how to better prepare yourself for the course, its extra bonus points!

Jonathan Cooke, MSc Science Communication
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