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5 things I learnt studying a Journalism MA in London

Emily Cole
Last Updated: 17 July 2021 • 4 min read

Many people talk about the jump from GCSE to A Level, but what about the jump from undergraduate to masters?

For me it was a straight-forward choice to do a masters after my BA. During my politics degree at Newcastle I realised I wanted to pursue journalism. The career now usually requires doing an accredited course, and the MA in Broadcast Journalism at City University was the choice I went for.

So I jumped straight from my undergrad to MA. I went from a theoretical, essay based subject where it felt like I lived in the library, to a course where I haven’t even set foot in one. 

Here are some of the challenges I faced when moving on to a masters.

5 things I learnt doing a Journalism MA

1. Contact hours

2. Not writing like an academic

3. The tech stuff

4. Meeting new people

5. Living in London

1. Contact hours

The first thing I had to do was adjust to the timetable. I went from on average eight contact hours a week to what felt like eight hours a day. 

First term was the most intense for contact time as there was so much for us to learn from the get go: ethics, media law, data journalism, news tests, and days where we were doing practical work in the university for the whole day. It felt like being thrown in at the deep end. 

The jump from the maximum of two hours a day was huge. At first it was overwhelming, but I realised that actually in a pandemic being busy wasn’t a bad thing. And with practical courses, the content was preparing me for a career in something I was passionate about. 

The contact hours just became normal and something I got accustomed to. 

2. Not writing like an academic

The next thing to adapt to was the writing style of journalism. The art of essay writing had been drilled into me at undergraduate level and being fresh out of a dissertation doesn’t necessarily set you up well for writing scripts for TV and radio. 

Broadcasting relies on simple language so viewers or listeners can understand the story well. 

Writing how you speak might seem like something quite straight forward but during my MA I’ve realised it’s actually a skill. The practical nature of the course meant I’ve been able to voice scripts on a weekly basis for news bulletins, or TV and radio packages. 

The opportunity to practice the art of writing for broadcasting on such a frequent basis means I’ve gained a lot of experience now in mastering that skill.

3. The tech stuff

Before my masters I was pretty inept when it came to computers and technology. I didn’t even know how to do control/command F until I reached my last year of undergraduate study. 

A practical masters has given me the opportunity to learn how to operate cameras, radio desks and edit news packages together. 

Getting my head around the tech side of broadcasting has been a journey, but being able to edit together long-form audio pieces and TV news packages has given me skills I never thought I’d develop. 

This doesn’t mean I am now an editing or tech expert by any means, but the practical nature of my masters has given me the opportunity to learn valuable skills for the career I want to pursue.

4. Meeting new people

When doing your undergraduate degree, chances are most people have come straight from school and A Levels/BTECs or a gap year. 

But at masters level, some people have been in a job for a couple of years, some are straight from undergraduate, and others do the course seeking a complete career change. 

It gave me the opportunity to forge friendships with people who’d had completely different life experiences to me. 

5. Living in London

Moving to London, in the middle of a pandemic, was a daunting prospect. Adjusting to how big the city is and how much money you can spend by just leaving the house was a challenge.

Luckily, a lot of people on my course were in the same boat. 

If anything, lockdown and things being quieter made it easier to get my bearings in the capital and to explore without being overwhelmed. The costliness of London is not something I’m sure I’ll ever adjust to, however, working alongside my studies has helped massively.

Making the jump from an essay-based degree to a practical masters has been a challenge. My politics degree allowed me to explore a subject I loved and taught me to think critically. But when I graduate from City I’ll be taking with me a wealth of skills ready for a job in the media.

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Emily Cole
Written By
Emily Cole

Emily is a freelance journalist and masters student based in London. She's interested in politics and higher education.

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