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Consider your Motivations for Further Study | The Careers Service Consider your Motivations for Further Study – Oxford University Careers Service
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Why do further study?

There a many reasons why someone would choose to undertake further study. They are likely to be a mix of some of the following:

  • To satisfy intellectual curiosity, fuel a passion for your subject.
  • To gain expertise in a specific area, or to build evidence of experience of a sector.
  • To improve your career prospects, more on this below.
  • To gain entry to a career for which a higher degree is a (virtually) essential precursor.
  • To change direction into another discipline.
  • To enhance your skills generally.
  • To boost a weak academic record.
  • To buy some time while you make career decisions, or while the labour market refreshes.
  • To maintain a student lifestyle…

It’s worth taking some time to think beyond your basic motivation. We highlight some of the other issues you might consider below.

Will it improve your career prospects?

For some professions postgraduate qualifications are essential. For example, in the UK you are likely to need them for research and teaching posts in universities, health specialisms and legal careers.

Often a postgraduate course is just one possible route to gaining experience and entry to a sector. This is, for example, the case in journalism, museum work, environmental work, and international development.

In the UK, employers often do not demand a higher degree, and in some cases a postgraduate could be recruited to do the same job as a first-degree graduate. In many business areas employers will take you on regardless of your subject, and train you themselves or put you through the necessary professional training.

Further study will not automatically get you a better job, but it can improve your chances if the employer requires the specialism you have developed. The transferable skills gained from doing postgraduate study, carefully targeted and effectively marketed in an application, can greatly enhance job applications, but may not earn you a better starting salary.

For international careers thorough research is even more important. Different countries often have their own professional qualifications, and even within the European Union there may not be harmony. Sector-specific postgraduate qualifications gained in a particular location may only be valid for jobs in the same country. As such, it may be important to consider whether you’re likely to wish to move between countries before you begin.

Research the area you want to go into, and discuss your ideas with a Careers Adviser before embarking on a course which may not be necessary for your future career. More on this below.

How to research for yourself

Thorough research of an occupation is necessary before deciding to undertake any related study.

External Resources
This information was last updated on 10 August 2017.
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Recent blogs about Consider your Motivations for Further Study

Browse New ‘late batch’ Summer Internships by Sector!

Blogged by Rachel Ruscombe-King on March 20, 2018.

The momentum of the Summer Internship Programme continues apace, with more than 70 internships currently being advertised exclusively to Oxford students in our first ‘late batch’ of internship applications. Students may apply to an unlimited number of ‘late’ internships with a deadline of April 9 2018.

There are some fabulous opportunities available such as banking in Laos, employability research at the University of Pretoria, and computer gaming design for an art installation in the Czech Republic. Please browse our sector lists to help you find your summer of a lifetime!

Arts and Heritage



Energy and the Environment

Entrepreneurship, Finance and Consulting


As ever, please email with any questions, and don’t forget to like and follow our facebook page to keep updated.

Easter Closure and Careers Advice during the vacation

Blogged by Karan Karasinska on March 15, 2018.

The Careers Service will be closed for Easter from Thursday 29 March until Monday 2 April, reopening on Tuesday 3 April. Apart from these days, you can come in to have a 1:1 discussion with a Careers Adviser as normal; our advice appointments are available to book on CareerConnect. However, if you are not in Oxford during the vacation, you can still get careers advice!

  • If you would like to have a discussion by telephone or Skype while you are out of Oxford, you can book a Short Discussion appointment and email us to say you would like the appointment to be over the telephone, or via Skype.
  • The Careers Service also offers e-guidance during part of the vacation period. If you have a careers advice question, you can mail it to A Careers Adviser will normally reply to your email within two working days. We will run this service from Monday 19 March until Thursday 12 April. (Please note that this service is only offered and monitored during these dates and you will not receive a response if your email is sent after Thursday 12 April)

If you require any further clarification of our services, or have a specific enquiry, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us: or telephone 01865 274646.

New to Oxford: A goldmine of advice for researchers

Blogged by Rachel Bray on March 7, 2018.

We are delighted to announce a fabulous open-access resource specifically for DPhils and Postdocs.

The Early Career Researcher blog is written by a team of expert careers advisers and researcher developers from Cambridge and Oxford.

This growing collection of 40+ pithy articles is designed to equip any early career academic – regardless of discipline or location – with insights and practical tips around what works and why in building a career. Topics include academic progression and applications, perseverance, exploring options and transitioning to other sectors.

Enjoy sampling the menu, and look out for our up-coming raft of articles to include: non-academic employers’ perspectives on researchers; a series on resilience; and planning an academic career.

You can also suggest topics for future posts that you would like to see – just tweet @EarlyCareerBlog

Publishing: Introductory vocational courses in April

Posted on behalf of Publishers Association. Blogged by Hugh Nicholson-Lailey on March 7, 2018.

The Publishers Association (PA) is proud to support vocational courses to be held at UCL, London, this Spring and supported by Hachette, Penguin Random House, Faber & Faber and Harper Collins.


These are fee-based courses, and bookings must be made before 9 April. A limited number of sponsorship are available however:

  • UCL are offering 4 sponsored places – see how to apply at UCL Publishing Event
  • Diamond Woods Kahn literary agency are looking for candidates from outside London for whom the costs of travel/accommodation and the course fee would otherwise be prohibitive. Applicants should explain a little about their circumstances/why they would need a sponsored place and send a CV to
  • the PA runs The Spare Room Project, an initiative which can provide publishing interns and candidates on this course with free accommodation.

Additional sponsorship may be available via other partner organisations, and if we receive details, we will update this blog-post.

Get Into Book Publishing

Get into Book Publishing, 16-19 April inclusive

Price: £250 per delegate with sponsored places available

The 4-day Get into Book Publishing course is a comprehensive and accessible  introduction to all aspects of the book publishing industry. It is ideal for students aged 18 or over who are interested to learn about the diverse range of roles available and how to make those first steps into a rewarding career.

The course programme consists of 14 tutorials including interactive sessions and Q&As. Taught by industry experts each tutorial will focus on a specific area of publishing – from editorial and design, production, finance, digital and audio, to rights, sales and marketing, as well as some valuable advice on how best to approach job applications and interviews. The content will be current, honest and lively and will offer students a fantastic opportunity to learn from and engage with experienced publishing professionals who, in turn, are extremely enthusiastic to share their knowledge.

There will also be a group project assignment and an informal networking evening reception. Each delegate will receive a certificate of attendance from UCL upon completion of the course.

In addition to the 4-day course, there are two, brand new, 1-day Masterclasses for those who have a clear idea of which area of publishing they are interested in.

Editorial Masterclass

Editorial Masterclass with Fran Hiller, 20 April

Production Masterclass

Production Masterclass with Heather O’Connell, 20 April

Price: £95 per delegate with sponsored places available

For further information about all the courses, including full tutor bios, how to book places and how to apply for sponsored places, please visit Get into Book Publishing. Alternatively, you can email Heather O’Connell.

Less than a week to apply for UK internships!

Blogged by Rachel Ruscombe-King on March 7, 2018.

A fantastic array of UK internships available through the Summer Internship Programme are now being advertised through CareerConnect. All are exclusively for Oxford students to apply for. The deadline for our current batch of UK opportunities is Monday 12 March.

This year there are some really interesting opportunities to work with UK start-up organisations on marketing and business development strategy. You could choose to apply for the chance to work with Strumpshaw, Tincleton & Giggleswick’s Marvellous Maps, a start-up that designs and sells maps that entertain and inspire. The 10-week internship will provide insight into all areas of the business, with a focus on marketing and product development. Or, you could consider GB chew Organic, a rapidly growing company selling organic healthy snacks. The intern will be working alongside the founder covering multiple areas of the business, with a main focus on sales, operations and marketing.

As ever, we will be running one-to-one application support sessions this week to help you finalise your applications. Book your place on CareerConnect and don’t forget to check out our Application support guide for a list of help available for your internship applications. You can make two applications to internships with a deadline of 12 March, and more international and UK internships will be released from 13 March onwards.

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