What motivated you to pursue postgraduate study?
Studying an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience will allow me to gain the skills that I need to work in the sector the specialises in mental health.
I feel very passionate about mental health having had mental health issues with people within my family. I wanted to gain the relevant knowledge and skills to better prepare me to work in this sector.
What were you doing before applying for a postgraduate degree?
I was studying for a bachelor's degree in Biomedicine Science and I was also working in a retail store part-time.
Were there any challenges affecting your decision to study for a postgraduate degree? If so, how did you overcome them?
When I decided to apply, I had to research many different universities. I could not attend any open days due to the pandemic. Instead, I had to communicate with all the staff and lecturers through virtual meetings, where I was able to get all the information that was required for me to go ahead with my application. I was extremely worried about whether this was the right course and if it would give me the credit and experience needed due to the online delivery. I was also worried about the financial aspects of university study as we do not have the maintenance funding for postgraduate, but the university gave me advice and helped me get an Oyster travel card for another year which eased my travel costs for when I needed to travel to the library.
Another challenge was remote learning due to the pandemic. I felt a lack of motivation and found it difficult to follow lectures. I overcame all these challenges by making a schedule for each day and set reminders for taking regular breaks.
I also volunteered in the lectures and became a Student Representative, which helped me so much to create a community for all the other students on my course.
Why did you choose City?
I chose City, University of London as it had one of the highest rankings for student satisfaction and it had a very friendly environment. During the application process, all staff and students were so helpful in guiding me even before I made an application and they made sure all my questions were answered.
They were also in the top ranking for graduate prospects. I live in London which made the commute easier for me as all the tubes and stations were close by. The course I picked has the modules that I was really interested in and passionate about.
City also has an internship scheme for my course, which made me pick this university as it would allow me to prepare for my job and gain more skills.
How are you funding your studies – did you secure any financial support?
I got financial support from Student Finance England to study, however, I had also saved a little money beforehand from the part-time jobs.
City offers scholarships, bursaries and other funding options and you can also contact the specialist student support teams for further information on financial support. There are also different loan schemes to help finance your degree, but I only found out about all these options later.
What does a typical week at university look like for you?
A typical week at university is filled with lectures on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. The other days I prepare my notes or catch up with notes. Some days I have meetings as I am a Student Representative for my course.
When I don't have lectures, I do things that I enjoy as postgraduate study is quite intense compared to undergraduate. I make sure I have self-care days where I watch movies, cook or hang out with friends on Zoom to have a break without thinking about work or deadlines.
I was also an intern at an organisation called Mind in the City, Hackney and Waltham Forest, where I was working on Wednesdays and Fridays. City also has lots of different societies for university students to get involved in. I enrolled myself on Bollywood dance, Kharis on campus and photography societies.
What has been your favourite module or aspect of your course so far?
I really enjoyed all the modules but my favourite one would be Principles of Neuroscience: Brain Anatomy, Techniques and Paradigms. This module was based on the history and theories of neuroscience and also allowed me to gain knowledge and skills on the measurement of brain activities.
The method of assessment was also interesting as it was not one long essay. Instead, it was split into three parts, where I had to conduct research on a neuroscientist, do a 10-minute presentation and write an essay on different techniques used to measure brain activity. This enabled me to apply all the knowledge that I learned from lectures.
What knowledge and skills has your course helped you develop?
This course helped me develop my self-confidence as it was a different environment that I was not used to. I had to meet the lecturers and students virtually, and this required a lot of self-confidence as I was nervous about the impression I would make on the people I meet.
Problem-solving was another skill I gained as it was remote learning in the early stage. I had to be proactive and come up with solutions as I wasn't always able to access the help of lecturers or other students. Adaptability was a huge skill that I obtained from this course - it felt like a very friendly and safe environment that I was able to adapt to quickly.
The other key skills I have learnt are research skills, such as how to find the vital information I need and getting used to the formal style of academic writing. I have gained all these from my dissertation. Another skill I learnt was critical analysis, this skill helped me to examine large amounts of data from studies about different mental health disorders. Presentation skills were also obtained where I learnt how to do public speaking, how to be creative and organised, and how to tailor to my audience. This course has also helped me to develop my teamwork and independent study skills, and as this course was remote, it also required me to develop my level of concentration.
What opportunities and experiences has City offered you so far?
City offers so many different opportunities. I became a Student Ambassador for the university which gave me some flexibility to combine some work with lectures and social life. I am also a Student Representative and this experience helped me to build a relationship with the lecturers and students.
I was able to address some concerns from the students and resolve some issues, such as the overlapping of deadline dates and setting up a WhatsApp group for the course mates.
City gave me an internship opportunity and various jobs were brought to my attention. My lecturer also got me involved in a graduate conference. This was a great experience as I was able to learn about different topics and interact with students from several universities.
This experience also helped me with my public speaking and my presentation skills.
What are your career plans and how has City prepared you for them?
My career plan is to be a neuroscientist. The university has helped me enhance my research skills and build my communication skills.
My research also helps with scientific writing skills, which could contribute to journals. Patience and time management are the key skills that I've developed at City and have helped me prepare for my future career.
Moreover, there were lots of careers fairs and initiatives where you could go talk to an advisor who will help you explore your career options.
What advice would you give to someone considering a postgraduate degree?
My advice would be to research the degree, ask yourself if this master’s degree is important, or if there are other options to excel in your career without the degree. Communicate with different people within the university such as students, lecturers, alumni (previous students of that university) to explore your options and find work experience that can help you plan your career or set a career goal.
Ensure you are passionate about the degree. Postgraduate study will be intense compared to undergraduate and you will be expected to do a lot of independent studying and work.