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CamGuides: Becoming a Graduate Student

Introduction

A student walks through the grounds at King's College

Wherever you're coming to Cambridge from, you'll probably find that studying at graduate level is different to your previous experiences of learning, whether in higher education or in a professional capacity.

In Cambridge you'll be entering a new community based around your discipline and your research interests. Being a graduate student means you'll be more independent, making decisions about your own learning. You might have a heavy teaching schedule, and you might also find yourself with lots of unscheduled time. 

The best part of graduate education in Cambridge is that you have different modes of learning, it is very intense, it is very rigorous, but it is also very rewarding.

- MPhil International Development student, 2017-18

What's in this section?

In this section of CamGuides we'll cover some of the key transferable academic practices and skills that are commonly required at graduate level. Use the links at the bottom of each page to move through the different topics, or skip ahead to those you think are most relevant to you by using the menu on the left hand side (or at the top if you're using a mobile device).

The goal of this section is to highlight some of these practices and skills, to encourage you to reflect on your existing knowledge and expertise and how you might realistically progress further. At points, there will be an icon (like the one below), which identifies a task: something that you can usefully do now, before your course begins, to increase your understanding of them. Needless to say, this should always be contextualised by your discipline, area of interest, and previous experiences of learning at university, in the workplace, or elsewhere.

a blue clock face showing thirty minutesTo complete this section, you'll need:

  • Approximately 30 minutes.
  • Access to the internet. Nearly all the resources mentioned here are available freely; where an institutional subscription is required, this is made clear.
  • Some equipment for jotting down your thoughts.
  • A personal policy to work through each part, or select the ones you feel are most relevant. Either approach is fine, and valid.
  • Nothing else. To complete this section, you don't need to sign up to any platform or give away any personal details.
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What does your course entail? It might be helpful to refresh your memory.

Take a look at the course directory, and find your course. Read through its learning outcomes, and see if you can identify the contact you might expect, how and where you'll be taught, and the research elements in your course. In particular, look for the skills and practices which you'll be expected to develop.

Image credits

CC0 by Victoria Heath via Unsplash