Working alongside a Masters?

(21 Posts)
NeedToMoveHouse Sat 05-Mar-16 15:40:16

Any advice on the above?

I seem to be getting very mixed opinions on this and those I've spoken to who did work through their MA didn't have to through necessity, more just to get pocket money via Saturday jobs (still lived at home).

For reference, the course will have 8 contact hours a week spread over two days. My undergrad degree had 16 contact hours and I worked a 25hr a week office job throughout the three years. I did manage a 1st but this came at a cost of giving up nearly every weekend and the majority of my evenings. However, I didn't have much choice as I have a mortgage/bills/family to support.

So, does anyone have experience of working alongside a full time masters? Is it doable? Painful? Terrible?

OP’s posts: |
Becca19962014 Sat 05-Mar-16 18:01:54

It varies massively with the masters.

My masters which was a conversion masters had far more contact time than was anticpated (expected to be 16 hours but reality was much higher especially for the first term) and I had essays/reports to hand in every week. It was a MSc, so I have no experience of MAs and like I said it was a conversion course (which maybe relevant).

Honestly Ive no idea how I managed to complete it with a decent average without working, I wouldn't have completed it if I was. The person who was doing it part time and working didn't complete.

There were people on the course with masters already, one had a MA in music and they were able to do it and work part time, but someone else had an MA in History and struggled with work on top.

I don't know if that helps. My point is it genuinely does vary from course to course and uni to uni.

Is there anyway of contacting people on the course this year, maybe look on student room or post there to ask if it's manageable?

Readysteadyknit Sat 05-Mar-16 18:06:52

I am doing supply teaching alongside a full time MA - it would be hard to have fixed hours as I find the workload varies.

NeedToMoveHouse Sat 05-Mar-16 18:38:28

Thank you, Becca, that is really helpful. I did check to see if there was anything relevant about the course on the StudentRoom but no luck, I think I'll make an account and post there too.

It definitely seems to vary subject to subject; I know a couple of English & History MA'ers that advised against working at all because of the stress that comes with the course. I will be doing Law, it should be fairly well structured with set contact hours but it's impossible to tell how I'll handle the work load in terms of speed and stress so it is a worry.

Ready I was actually considering tutoring alongside it as an alternative to office work, although it wouldn't be as relevant to the course, it would, more importantly, pay the bills. I was v lucky to have understanding employers throughout my undergrad, I could build up hours and take time off around exam periods and essay hand in dates. Might not get that lucky this time around.

I've tutored 16+ for a charity for a while now and I do really enjoy it so maybe advertising as a tutor could be a more flexible option if the workload is too much?

OP’s posts: |
Becca19962014 Sat 05-Mar-16 19:17:54

Are you doing MA or LLM?

Law masters have a lot of out of lecture work associated with them, LLM can have more but that's not always the case (I asked which becaue you may be thinking MA = less work than a LLM which isn't realistic). Law masters are usually LLM if you want to go into a particular field, not MA. You need to be concerned with what the course considers to be contact hours (my contact hours didn't include tutorials/seminars or workshops for example it was purely lectures) and how much additional work you are expected to to do on your own.

In my case we were expected to be available 9am-6pm each week and seminars and tutorials werent set each week.

I don't know how you are funding it (and don't want to!) but word of warning, in case you aren't paying upfront, loan funding for postgrads ceases in May for masters and loans must begin being paid back within eight weeks of that date, dissertations are not included - I don't think that's changed but it might be worth looking into.

I was, many years ago going to do a law masters but never did.

Hope this helps and makes sense!

Readysteadyknit Sat 05-Mar-16 19:18:27

Could you do agency office work and tutoring? I do some tutoring and find that most people don't want tutoring in the school holidays so I have no income in the holidays sad

ImperialBlether Sat 05-Mar-16 19:20:26

I worked full time as a teacher while studying a Masters, but I really loved the course (creative writing) and the work we had to do was to do with writing rather than researching etc. I was a single mum with two teenagers, too, but it meant while they were sleeping in or sitting in bus shelters with their mates, I could do my work.


NapoleonsNose Sat 05-Mar-16 19:28:49

OP, I'm planning on starting an MA in September, although I think I'll have to do it p/t over 2 years. The course I'm looking at (History) suggests that for p/t you are expected to attend uni for one lecture/seminar a week. I currently work 30 hours over 4 days so I'm hoping this will work - once I've spoken to my employer about it! It sounds like you have a great work ethic and I'm a real believer that if you really want something then you'll make it work whatever.

With regards to funding, my understanding is that new postgrad finance comes in for courses starting after August. You can borrow up to 10k and only start paying it back when you earn over 21k.

fuckweasel Sat 05-Mar-16 19:37:59

I worked 20 hours a week during my full time Masters. During taught terms (two out of three trimesters), we had contact time 9-5, Mon-Fri. It was exhausting but I managed!

Readysteadyknit Sat 05-Mar-16 19:41:41

It obviously depends on the course - mine has a practical element so some weeks I need to do something related to the course everyday - other weeks it's just reading

NeedToMoveHouse Sat 05-Mar-16 20:39:51

Wow thanks for all the replies grin

Becca it is a Law MA, it combines a conversion to law as it wasn't my undergrad subject but it is a fairly new course, hence there not being much info available on it. The 8 hours cover all seminars and lectures and this is fixed but it does state on the uni's website that a full time MA should be treated as a full time job, i.e expect to devote 9-5 Monday to Friday to the work needed.

I do intend to use the new governments postgrad loan starting in the autumn that NapoleonsNose mentions, so I'm fine with the funding side of things, just worried about actual income.

Ready agency work is a good idea, that would allow a deal of flexibility. I do my volunteer tutoring all year around so hadn't thought that paid tutoring would be different but I can see how there would be much less demand during holidays so I'll need to look into that, it is a good point!

Imperial that is very impressive, I'm not sure I have your stamina but that is certainly inspirational to see you managed full time work and two teenagers shock I know I'm going to love the course and I cannot wait to start it so hopefully that will give me the focus to make it all work, somehow.

Thanks, Napoleon. I do admire you're ambition continuing to work 30 hours alongside a history MA. I did history in my first year of undergrad and I found it extremely difficult! An understanding and supportive employer is so important, my previous employer sat down with me and my uni timetable and we planned out all of my annual leave/overtime/toil to use most effectively. Part time MA's are often tailored to ppl working full time so I hope it all works out brilliantly for you!

Wow fuckweasel that is a lot of hours to fit in a week! Hopefully it all felt worth it in the end? I don't have much of a social life so I don't mind not having weekends/evenings and working 3 days, at uni 2. I just hope it will all work!

OP’s posts: |
HildaFlorence Sat 05-Mar-16 20:59:28

Napoleon I am also starting a history MA hopefully in October ,the set up sounds very similar , is it at an institution beginning with a B.I am doing a postgrad cert at the moments, almost everyone is working but the University is very set up for it , I do think this is key to whether the lecturers are expecting you to be available or not etc

NapoleonsNose Sat 05-Mar-16 21:09:34

Hilda, no not an institution beginning with B, but a P.

HildaFlorence Sat 05-Mar-16 21:18:43

Not the same then , but I work 21 hours a week , sometimes more .I have found with the postgrad cert that the key is to try to be organised and look ahead when I have more time

Sadusername Sun 06-Mar-16 08:46:10

Needtomovehouse, are you saying that is is possible to do a law conversion within a masters degree, which attracts the new post grad funding? Can you say which uni's offer it? My search failed to bring anything up.

Heyheyheygoodbye Sun 06-Mar-16 08:49:07

I worked all through mine. MA full time but it was only one day a week actually on campus. I worked 20 hours or so around that. It was absolutely fine BUT my job was such that once I was done, I could switch to MA work no problem. It depends on the job and the MA.

Temporaryanonymity Sun 06-Mar-16 08:53:40

I did mine part time and via distance learning so I worked full-time. It was hard to fit it all in to be honest with you.

Misseuropadiscodancer Sun 06-Mar-16 09:06:19

I've just finished an MA, 8hrs contact time per week. There was a lot of outside work, particularly as assignments tend to be grouped together at the end of semester 1 and 2, so 3 x 3000 word assignments all due within the space of a week. I'd suggest you need to be prepared for that and arrange to have your annual leave around those times if possible. Would you also be expected to do a dissertation? I found that took a lot of time, especially as I did empirical research, so you need to plan your time for that. I didn't work at all over the time I did my dissertation, but I was a self employed trainer/lecturer so was able to pick and choose when I wanted to work. Don't think I could have done it for more than one year. Good luck!

saffynool Sun 06-Mar-16 09:56:09

I worked full time whilst doing my MSc, and for the first two years that was in a job that included nights on call and weekends. The final (empirical research dissertation) year I had moved into a job that was more 9-5 which did make things easier in a way...although my original job meant that I did sometimes get a few days off in a row which helped in another way!

I'd say it's absolutely doable - for me as a single parent it was non-negotiable anyway. i loved my masters but didn't have much of a life while I was doing it grin

NeedToMoveHouse Sun 06-Mar-16 15:40:04

sadusername yes!!!! It is the Law MA, available at uni of Sheffield and Bristol! It's the a great little find isn't it? It is 2 years long, Bristol is more expensive and the postgrad loan won't cover the full amount but it gets you very close.

Well this has really filled me with positivity, so thank you all for that. If I did an office job is would be as a paralegal so I would be able to switch off, as you say heyhey, and that is a huge factor. And it would help to put what I'm learning into use, it would all depend on finding an understanding and flexible employer though.

I would need to do a dissertation which is the same size as the one I did in my undergrad degree so I'm not majorly concerned about that. Having said that, I did book off three weeks to make sure I had it done and spent most of those days having full on break downs and panic attacks and it was by far the worst part of it all for me.

I do admire those of you who have done it with children to factor in too, it's extremely impressive! I found working through my degree helpful in a way as it gave me an escape and a bit of perspective. I hope it's the same for the MA and no doubt it will feel such an accomplishment afterwards.

OP’s posts: |
Tummyrumbled Sun 17-Apr-16 04:34:00

Hi OP,

Don't know about the Sheffield but I can share my experience about Bristol.

I did that course in Bristol while working full time. They activitely discourage people from working as it is a full time course. Although contact time is 8 hours, there is an expectation to do a lot of self-directed learning. It's a taught masters so it ranges from 3 x 3000 word essays to written exams . Unless they have changed the structure, there was no dissertation.

During my time, most students came from the Far east and only a few British students. Most didn't work. As I recall there were only three or four of us working. One dropped out, one stopped working and the other one was self-employed.

Having said all of these, it's one of the amazing experience I ever had. It was intellectually stimulating and met so many interesting people. In the end I was awarded "with merit".

I'm on my MSc now at a different uni and it's not as exciting experience as the one from Brisol

Sorry for the typos as it's 4:00 am


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