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Transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study

The transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study can seem daunting at first but a little preparation and knowing what to expect can set you on the path to success.

What to expect

Longer essays and assignments

It’s likely that your essays and assignments will be longer and require more research. This makes postgraduate study ideal for developing your independent and critical thinking skills.


You’ll be doing a lot of reading and research, so taking good notes and keeping them organised will be really important for working effectively. Research different types of note-taking and templates to equip yourself with the right tools for the job.

“Postgraduate study differs from undergraduate due to the emphasis on individual development. More is now expected of me in conducting my own independent research but this is a good thing as it gives me more freedom to develop my understanding of areas of my work that interest me more.”

Isaac Saunders, MSc Human Resource Management

Time management

Organisation and time management will become key during your postgraduate study. You may be working on different projects at the same time so make sure you create a diary to plan your projects.

Group work and presentations

Group projects and presenting your work is often a feature of postgraduate study. Having a good understanding of how to work effectively in a group, such as defining and allocating specific tasks, will help keep you on track.

“The main thing to get used to in postgraduate is that your work is much more independent and you are expected to know how to do a lot of things already, or find them out for yourself. No one tells you how to approach or write a certain type of assessment. The assignments are challenging but I have had significantly better grades so far than I did for undergrad - if you take on the challenge and give it a go you’ll be rewarded well. The class sizes are much smaller than undergrad. Some of my lectures only have about eight people which is nice in terms of the engagement it facilitates. I have found most tutors to be very responsive to emails and keen to help students where they can which has been a big help.”

Naomi Green, Sustainability, Planning and Environmental Policy (MSc)

Study skills support

The most important thing to remember is that there is plenty of help available, from on-demand online skills training to practical workshops.

Our Study Skills team have a series of tutorials specifically for postgraduate taught students, with practical advice on developing critical arguments, writing at postgraduate level, and finding appropriate sources.

The team also offer free tutorials and workshops throughout the year, on topics including organisation and time management, taking effective notes, working in groups, and giving great presentations.

As a Cardiff University student, you’ll also have access to LinkedIn Learning, a suite of more than 5,000 courses to help you become a better learner.