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By Rammohan Khanapurkar, UCL Institute of Education- MA Education and International Development (2018-19) 

Master’s courses at UCL are a short affair of one-year. Even then they brim with enough academic mood swings to keep you on tenterhooks with the leitmotif of ‘so much to do and so little time’. The coursework can become a daunting task due to expectations of academic excellence using a wide range of unusually high-level skills in thinking and writing. As a Master’s student, all you have is a year to master the subject. So, is one year good enough to master the subject in a real sense or there is more to the course than just attaining high grades?  

Thematically, contents of the Master’s degree are arranged in modules per semester. These modules are further divided into neatly arranged chapters with a progressive learning curve. It appears like a symphony in terms of the various elements involved in it: classroom sessions, intensive readings, interactions with peers, seminars, discussion with supervisors and social life on the campus. All these elements play their role in giving you anxiety attacks and a palpitating heart, but they all help upscale your skills and enhance your learning.  

When I started my Master’s course, I felt drowned with email notifications of events and activities at the UCL. UCL is a vibrant university with all its departments along with clubs and societies buzzing with different types of events and activities. It took me a while to realise the value in drawing best out of these events and activities. I took part in discussions on topics not related to my domain of education, taking advantage of the knowledge around me (go to those lunchtime lectures and discussion talks around campus!) and it helped enrich my experience at UCL. In my Master’s course, we were asked to form groups to share our academic readings. This not only ensured that we read but also resulted in productive discussions to deconstruct the heavyweight academic text. I would urge all the newcomers to treat all these co-curricular activities as key constituents of your Master’s course. They do play a collaborative role to put the academic jigsaw puzzle in place.  

Master’s degree cannot be straight-jacketed as merely a post-graduate certificate to prop up career prospects. Enhancing career prospects is anyways embedded in the Master’s course, as the international degree from a top-notch university like UCL certainly grabs eyeballs of recruiters.

Over and above this career angle, the Master’s course has different shades and hues to widen the mind in many ways. A Master’s course can also be a stepping stone to do PhD if you have enough wherewithal to sail in the academic ship for further exploration.  

You may fear losing control of the Master’s roller-coaster at times but think about enjoying the adventure of ‘mastering’ the rudder of this learning voyage. Even if you realise the need to make yourself a committed and lifelong explorer of the subject at the end of the course, it’s not a small achievement either. Just don’t take your eyes off the co-curricular activities (the Union and your department will offer loads).

Allow the symphony to play, the journey will be a melodious one.