Careers Forum Webchat - postgraduate study and funding

Jayne: Welcome to the Postgraduate Study and Funding web chat. The web chat is now live and you can post your questions. We hope you find it useful.

Jayne: Good morning, I'm Jayne Sharples moderator of the forum today and the Postgraduate Careers Consultant at Careers Network. If you do have any questions or comments you would like to submit outside of the forum please email me at: We look forward to helping you all today as you consider postgraduate study options, here at the University of Birmingham or at other institutions.

Paul: Morning everyone, I'm Paul Charman, Careers Adviser in the Careers Network working with Social Sciences students, look forward to the questions today!

Roaa: Roaa Ali, Postgraduate Recruitment officer, currently working on DRES (Doctoral Researchers Enquiry Service). I look forward to answering questions today.

Katie: Hi everyone, I'm Katie Barnett - I work for the Careers Network student team and am in the writing up stage of my PhD in Arts & Law.

Mike: Hi everyone. My name is Mike Rush, I am the Team Leader of the Doctoral Researcher Enquiry Service (DRES). We answer pre-applicant enquiries concerning postgraduate study. DRES can be contacted at any time by emailing or by calling +44 (0)121 414 5005

Richard: Hi all. I am Richard Newman, Careers Consultant for the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

Paul: Morning all, I'm Paul Carpenter, Student Funding Officer at the University of Birmingham. I am specifically responsible for looking after the majority of centrally administered scholarships at the University.

A****: I'm in my final year studying English and am very interested in the MA in Film and Television - Research and Production. I understand it involves a 12 week placement. Would undertaking this course increase my employment prospects in Film and TV production or would it be just as useful to get work experience in the area. I'm wondering whether it will be worth me paying the fees to do an MA!

Richard: Hi A****. The MA in Film and Television could well improve your employment prospects and give you contacts in the industry. It's worth asking for the destinations data of what previous graduates have gone on to do after this MA programme.

Katie: Hi A**** - have you been in touch with James Walters, who convenes the MAFTV course? ( He may be able to give you more information about employment destinations (as well as the kind of placements students typically go on). Contacting the department directly is always a good idea if you need specific information, and they're happy to help.

Katie: Equally, if you are looking for work experience it might be worth taking a look at some of the resources the Careers Network offers, including information on internships: Careers Network internships site

This is updated frequently with new opportunities.

Mike: Hi A****, the data that we have on the destinations of leavers from higher education is presented on the website by department, and so in this case - being part of the Department of American and Canadian Studies - it will include other courses not relevant to Film and Television. I would recommend that, in addition to asking James Walters, you contact my colleague Holly Prescott, who is currently collating the leavers' data for the last academic year. She may be able to give you some course-specific information. Her email address is

Paul: Hi A****, good question. Definitely try and get more information about the course if you can, speak to admissions tutors, as already suggested, to find out what sort of jobs and companies graduates are going into. The following link on Programme Researcher for TV/Film/Broadcasting should help. Entry requirements for programme researchers for broadcasting, film and video

Think about the experience you may have had already, the skills/knowledge and techniques to be gained and find out what links the programme has to industry too. Overall I think the work experience is going to be essential, so thinking about how the MA can strengthen your knowledge and CV is key.

A**: Hello, I'm in the middle of completing my Masters and have been considering doing a PhD after I graduate in December 2013. I'm not sure how and where to start looking for potential PhDs. What does the application process involve?

Katie: Hi A** - Prospects has a good search function for PhDs, if you're looking at a range of different institutions: Prospects course search. You can apply for your PhD at any point in the year, but most start in the October (and most funding deadlines are in the Spring term).

Jayne: Hi A**, which subject are you studying? You may find it useful to attend a Cafe PhD event here on campus relevant to your subject area, look out for details at this link: CafePhD

Richard: Hi A** your undergrad was in Human Biology and you are now doing a Masters in Public Health. You are hoping to go back into science with a PhD. You could build up your experience in science before applying for a PhD. It partly depends on the classification of your Human Biology degree (most graduates who study at PhD will have a First or 2.1 degree) and what area of research you are interested in.

Mike: Hi A**, the process will most depend on the subject; generally in the sciences you will be applying to an existing project, and in the arts you will be formulating your own research proposal through conversation with a potential supervisor. We list existing projects at Find a Birmingham PhD - although this list is not exhaustive. It is worth talking to lecturers and supervisors in your school to see if they know of any additional opportunities too.

Roaa: Hello A**, after you have decided on your research interest, it is a good idea to contact a supervisor from the department. A list of the staff members is available online, and you can contact a member of staff whose research interests are relevant to yours. Consulting a potential supervisor might help you in your proposal. It is also helpful as you would be asked in your PhD application for the name of a potential supervisor.

Katie: This is also quite useful for anyone thinking about starting a PhD after their Masters: Postgraduate qualifications: PhDs. With regards to the research proposal, there are differences depending on whether you are studying in the sciences or the humanities (as Mike just suggested) - there's a brief outline here: Applying for a PhD

Mike: A** - if you decide to stay at Birmingham, the application process involves identifying the course for which you want to apply on our Course Finder database: Course Finder and clicking on 'Apply to study here' on the right-hand side of the relevant programme page. You will then be taken to the applications portal, for which you will register your name and email address so that you can leave and re-enter the process at any time. You will need to provide/upload: 1) a personal statement, 2) transcripts of previous degrees, 3) evidence of English language proficiency, if English isn't your first language, and 4) a research proposal, if one is required for your subject.

Mike: To reiterate what Katie has said, the deadlines for applying to most research council and University scholarships is the end of January each year. Otherwise there are no deadlines for applying to a postgraduate research degree, as they can begin at any time, although most schools prefer that you start at the beginning of October.

Jayne: Thanks everyone for your questions and the useful answers which are being shared with different perspectives and insights.

Paul: For those students with concerns about funding, the funding available for study at Masters level will depend on your chosen subject area, as some departments will offer subject-specific scholarships - your first port of call in that instance will be to contact the school or department directly. There are also central PG scholarships available to prospective Masters students, however these are also awarded by nomination from the school/department. Whilst investigating any subject specific scholarships, you can also register your interest in being nominated for central funding. Further details can be found at Postgraduate fees.

Paul: If you are unable to secure funding in the form of a scholarship, there are other options available, which will again depend on your chosen subject and personal circumstances. It may be worth looking into Professional and Career Development Loans, with are student-centric loans run by Co-Operative and Barclays. There are also a variety of trusts and charities offering non-repayable grants to prostgraduate students, many of which go unclaimed each year. Further info on both the loans and charitable grants are available at Loans and grants.

Paul: You may also wish to have a look at our PG funding guide for 2013, which contains more detail on the various options out there as well as a general guide to scholarships and studentships available at Birmingham, broken down by college - postgraduate sources of finance (PDF - 736KB). On a more general note, if you wish to cast your net wider Target Courses have created a very useful funding database that is searchable by level of study, subject area, university of choice etc. You will find it at Target Courses funding search.

Jayne: Thank you to everyone who has taken part in the chat today. The web chat is now closed. For further assistance from Careers Network go to: Careers Network

a careers network logo in blue and white


Professional Services