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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

Get guidance during the vacation!

Blogged by Corina Lacurezeanu on June 21, 2018.

The Careers Service offers e-guidance during the vacation period, so that you can get careers advice even if you’re not in Oxford. If you have a careers advice question, send an email to

We will be running this service throughout the summer, from Monday 25 June until Thursday 27 September 2018. A Careers Adviser will normally reply to your email within two working days.

If you are still in Oxford you can also come in to have a discussion with a Careers Adviser – our normal advice appointments are available to book on CareerConnect.

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.

Internship Opportunity for PhD Students

Posted on behalf of Foundry. Blogged by Elleanor Thornton on June 19, 2018.

Three month paid internship aimed at PhD students to start ASAP!

Foundry is seeking an applicant with experience of applying deep learning principles to the fields of image and video processing. During the 3 month paid internship, the student will be paired with a mentor and be expected to collaborate with other researchers, present findings, and contribute expert knowledge to the research team.

The Foundry’s Research Team develops cutting-edge industrial-strength image processing technology, and have a proven track record commercialising intellectual property in applications for film production as well as custom applications for technology partners.

The deadline for applications is 15 July 2018. For more details and to apply go to CareerConnect .

London Graduate Fair

Posted on behalf of University of London. Blogged by Karan Karasinska on June 14, 2018.

The London Graduate Fair will be taking place at Senate House, London, WC1E 7HU on Wednesday 20 June, 11.00-17.00.

  • Thousands of graduate jobs
  • Meet employers face-to-face
  • Free CV surgery
  • Free talks

Entry is free, register now.

Career Seminar for Postdocs: Guest Speaker Liz Elvidge

Posted on behalf of Heledd Gwilym. Blogged by Rebecca Ehata on June 13, 2018.

When: Tuesday 19 June, 14:00
Where: Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building

The Biochemistry Postdoc Committee invites postdocs from all disciplines to join them for the next seminar in their Postdoc Career Seminar Series. Dr Liz Elvidge, Head of the Postdoc and Fellows Development Centre, Imperial College London and co-author of the recently published book What Every Postdoc Needs to Know, is the guest speaker for this event. We were delighted to have Liz Elvidge give the keynote speech at our Careers Conference for Researchers in March this year; she’s a fantastic speaker, so if you weren’t able to get to that event, this is your opportunity to hear her insights and reflections on postdoc career development.

Everyone is welcome. There will be biscuits and tea/coffee provided, just bring your own mug!

£50 prizes available with the Internship Office Photo and Film Competition!

Blogged by Rachel Ruscombe-King on June 13, 2018.

The Oxford University Internship Office Photo and Film Competition will be taking place once again in 2018! We are calling on all students who take part in internships facilitated through the Internship Office to submit photos and videos that best represent your internship experience.

We invite entries for the following categories:

Light, Colour and Texture

We are looking for aesthetically interesting images from your internship experience that make use of light, colour or texture in an innovative way. Perhaps a bright summer’s morning on your way to work, or anything colourful or textured that catches your eyes at work or in the vicinity.

Architecture and Landmarks

Has any interesting architecture stood out during your internship? Have you visited any impressive monuments or seen any iconic buildings? We’d love to see pictures and videos that represent the location you are working in. Please note that images of Oxford and London are particularly under-represented in the Internship Office photo archives!

Beautiful World

What have you been up to in your spare time? Have you been on sightseeing trips, or found a favourite restaurant? Have you discovered new cityscapes, or visited the countryside? Have you met any interesting people or seen bizarre insects? We’d love to see images of your experiences outside of work and during your internship travels.

Internal Space

What does the daily life of your internship look like? Whether you are working in an open plan office, a stately home, a tower block, a lab or a forest, we want to see images that represent your internship. This could include everyday things such as your workstation, your colleagues, the buildings in which you work, conferences, workshops and special events, and also any special or unusual sights you encounter along the way. We would especially like to see well framed photos and videos of you in or outside your place of work.

Rules and tips

  • To enter the competition, please send your photos and videos by email to with the items as a file attachment or using a file transfer service such as WeTransfer or Dropbox. Please state clearly which categories you would like to enter.
  • You may enter five photos or videos for each category (a maximum of 20 photos in total).
  • The winning entries will be decided by a selection panel at the Careers Service.
  • For information on copyright and usage permission, please see the terms and conditions.
  • There will be one prize winner per category, who will be awarded a high street voucher worth £50.
  • We are looking for photographs that communicate your internship experience in an interesting way. Creativity and imagination will be rewarded!
  • The closing date for this competition is 17:00, Monday 17 September 2018.

And finally, if you need some inspiration, have a look at some of our favourite entries from previous competitions:

2015 Slideshow

2016 Slideshow

2017 Slideshow

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