Moving from undergraduate to postgraduate is often thought of as a major step up in difficulty. In some respects it is, but it’s mainly about how hard you are willing to work.
Graduating from BSc (Hons) Product Design at Cardiff Met set the groundwork for the MSc Product Design course. This isn’t to say that you must move onto a postgraduate course that directly follows your undergraduate, but it does lend itself nicely to the studies and work you’ll encounter.
The best thing about moving from undergrad to postgrad is the extra skills I have developed. Since undergrad gets you ready for large amounts of work, you are already prepared for the workload ahead. This allows you to focus more on exactly what you want to do, and tailoring the course to your needs. The move up allowed me to dive further into areas of research that were only touched upon at undergraduate.
For instance, the first module had us looking at connections people have when interacting with products. It was great for me as a more technically minded individual to learn more about the emotional and cognitive side of product design.
The extra industrial knowledge gained from the MSc course has been invaluable too. As each of the modules on the MSc course are led by a live brief, this provided me with key insights into industry, working on projects that I would otherwise have been unaware of. All these projects were very exciting, as they were led by clients from all sorts of backgrounds – I was able to dive into projects about furniture design, advanced materials, cognitive connections, quantitative and qualitative research techniques, user centred design, sustainable practice and much more.
Teamworking is a really important part of the course too. It means that the workload is shared, allowing us to play on each other’s strengths and to develop our own. This is essential to industry-based practice, as design is always team led – it’s all about bouncing ideas off of each other and coming up with an outcome that exceeds expectations.
All this extra work doesn’t mean you have to lose the student lifestyle either – still being part of a university provides you with plenty of opportunities and occasions to enjoy your down time, and with a smaller cohort of students at postgraduate level, you get to know everyone a lot more and become closer friends because of it. The university’s social events are always available to you, and student services and wellbeing are still there to look out for us and ensure that we’re able do the best work we can.
My main reason for studying the MSc course was to further prepare me for industry. While I believe that the Undergraduate course offered more than enough preparation for a role as a designer, I knew there was more I could get from the postgraduate; a chance to get one step ahead of the competition and develop a more detailed approach to product design.
Being part of a postgraduate course also gives you access to some great seminars and lectures with guest speakers – often people at the top of their fields and businesses. Since starting the course back in September 2018, I’ve been able to attend and take part in presentations and debates about future projects and lots of exciting topics. This has given me some fantastic insight into what could be ‘the next big thing’ in my industry, and has shaped the projects I am working on to be more forward thinking.
If you’re thinking of taking on a master’s degree, make sure it’s something you’re really passionate about, and be prepared to work hard and have fun. You will learn a lot, take part in a once in a lifetime experience, obtain a competitive edge in your field and work on projects that could one day make a difference to the wider world.