Graduates from UK Universities who are making decisions about work or further study may want to look at how they can make the most of their undergraduate degree subject at masters level. Now is the perfect time to consider a conversion course.

What’s driving the changes?

As the UK economy begins to recover the job market will vary by region, so graduates in areas where employment can dip because of the seasons may find the going quite tough for a while.

Employers are looking for well-rounded candidates to fill graduate roles, so some students may not have had all the experience that hiring managers are looking for at the moment, particularly since the lock down has had such a big effect.

Courses that students study at undergraduate level tend to cover a broad range of topics, particularly in the social sciences, so while they will include optional modules to make the course interesting not every part of the degree will be relevant to the student, and hence this can leave students wondering what to do next after they graduate.

Masters Loans from the UK Government make further study affordable and Universities offer additional generous scholarships to candidates based on merit and also to redress imbalances in access.

Are masters conversion courses different from other masters courses?

Conversion courses at masters level build upon the core academic skills of the student, and then channel them into employment areas that initially might not have been on their radar.

Universities offer conversion courses to masters students who don’t necessarily have an undergraduate degree in purely technical subjects. However you do have to show analytical competence, and the ability to apply yourself in new areas – while benefiting from teaching of the core modules at a level in order to be qualified.

Lectures revisit subjects covered in the equivalent undergraduate degree, to bring new conversion course students up to the required standard.

Masters conversion courses put a lot of emphasis on the dissertation module, and some include opportunities to complete a work placement during the summer as part of your project, so the duration of a masters conversion can be longer that the usual 36 weeks of a three term year.

What subjects are on offer?

Many subject areas that lead to roles in different sectors offer conversion courses, such as IT, Teaching and Psychology. These can often be short courses or individual modules at certificate and diploma level, so they offer a different level of commitment rather than a full year of study.

For example, a PGCE is a recognised teaching qualification, and this is often undertaken alongside a work placement in the classroom, so the undergraduate degree course that the student has previously completed could be in any subject.

Technical subject areas such as Computing, Teaching and Psychology lead to roles in different sectors. Conversion courses include individual modules at certificate and diploma level (several weeks duration), so they offer a different level of commitment rather than a full year of study.

Teaching, Marketing and Business

A PGCE is a recognised teaching qualification, and this includes a work placement in the classroom. and this is often undertaken alongside a work placement in the classroom, so the undergraduate degree course that the student has previously completed could be in any subject.

Students of Management or Business often convert into Accountancy, or Financial Services or Economics. Students with Arts degrees are similarly encouraged into areas where they can apply their creativity with regard to Project Management, Event Management, Human Resources and Customer Relations.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing is the professional registration body for marketers. A Marketing masters course includes exemptions from exams and modules as part of the course. The same principal applies with Management courses – especially Accountancy, with exemptions from specific ACCA examinations.

Law and Science

Law conversion courses are a very popular study area. Many students are attracted to Law and the Graduate Diploma in Law has been a widely used route into the profession for some time, as students with undergraduate degrees in any subject can complete the course and begin the transition into a legal career with it.

However, a Graduate Diploma in Law is not the same as a full masters degree. The number of credits that are awarded is around 120 taught at Level 6, and for a full masters the student usually needs to complete 180 credits at Level 7. This is significant if you want to apply for a masters loan from the UK Government, because the GDL is not covered by this scheme – BUT if you choose a masters course that includes the GDL within it then often the course is included in the loan agreement.

There is a big push for Science and Technology masters courses. A number of UK Universities are encouraging students to undertake conversion courses in subjects such as Data Science and Artificial Intelligence- with some offering scholarships. While Science might only be of interest to students with a technical background in fact there is a shortage of qualified specialists. The Government is working with Universities to attract a new wave of applicants for roles in these important jobs.

Types of course – part time, distance learning or online

The idea of committing to a full time masters course at a University on campus might be difficult at the moment. Thankfully there are lots of alternative ways of studying a masters course, whether that is online, part time or blended (a mixture of self-study at home and intensive study weekends each term).

Next steps

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a masters conversion course?

A masters conversion course is a postgraduate programme that is designed to intensely focus a student on a career path that their undergraduate course has not prepared them for. Conversion courses are great options for students who have had a change of heart and now want to focus on a career which may be unrelated to their initial field of study.

Is a masters conversion course worth it?

Many students begin their life at university by choosing a subject which they feel they will enjoy rather than focusing on a career path. However, as they progress they may feel the need to focus on a more professional path such as law or psychology. A conversion course allows students to obtain a specialist degree and enter into that profession in the quickest time possible. If you wish to change your career path a masters conversion course could be a great decision for you.

What are common masters conversion courses?

Conversions courses are usually vocational and cover a wide array of subjects and fields.  Law and Science are the most popular study area and most universities will have conversion courses for these career paths. However there are conversion courses available in marketing, business, teaching, psychology and IT to name but a few. Check out the masters courses and online masters courses for more information.