At UK universities 2nd year Integrated Masters undergraduates who do not achieve the required results in their core modules may be transferred by their departments to a 3 year BSc degree. This often unexpected course change can have a significant impact on the career plans and confidence of those students.
Are you a finalist a year earlier than you expected?
Having to transfer to the BSc may be frustrating if you had hoped to find an internship or a placement during what you assumed would be your penultimate year. As you approach your final year however, you can manage the anxiety you may now be feeling to adopt a new career strategy. You could re-frame your thinking so that it can start to feel like an opportunity to explore new possibilities
If one of your concerns was how graduate employers might view a BSc in comparison to the Integrated Masters, let me offer some reassurance. As a general rule, graduate employers do not make a distinction in their recruitment and selection between 3 and 4 year degree candidates. Of course it could be argued that an Integrated Masters graduate has developed a deeper subject understanding and enhanced their skills during their fourth year of study. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are a stronger candidate.
Moreover, if a BSc graduate has work experience, they can evidence their employability skills perhaps more convincingly than a 4th year of study may have done. It was interesting to note the overwhelming feedback I received from a variety of employers (in both public and private sectors) in 2016 when asked if they favoured an Integrated Masters applicant over a BSc one:
‘We have no preference for a Masters over a BSc as our primary method of selection is a maths test which we run ourselves. Students with a Masters may have an advantage in this test as they will have more experience in solving mathematical problems, but this is not guaranteed and we have given offers to students with BScs, Masters and PhDs in the past’
‘In my opinion, the BSc is enough to show competence and suitability…’
‘Masters level recruits go through the same training programme as graduates, we do not make a distinction between Masters and BSc applicants.’
If you are an Integrated Masters Engineering student, there is the obvious advantage of progressing more quickly to Chartered status as a 4 year student. But a BSc graduate can still progress to professional accreditation by pursuing a recognised MSc.
The BSc degree is a significant achievement
- You will still graduate from the University of Warwick with an impressive degree, from an institution voted this year as the most targeted by top graduate employers in the UK (yes, above Oxbridge)
- Graduating a year earlier may present an opportunity to plan a different career, you may wish to consider a postgraduate qualification in a different specialism – you will still graduate no later than if you had completed the Integrated Masters
- Ask yourself if you still really have the subject interest, intellectual curiosity and passion for your subject for that fourth year of study? If not, you may now feel even more motivation to approach your 3rd and final year determined to achieve the best result you can
- You may feel excited at the opportunity to begin your career with a graduate employer a year earlier. You will hopefully continue to learn and develop, albeit in a the context of the world of work
- If you had planned to progress to a PhD, the switch to the BSc may feel particularly demotivating as for some institutions, the 4th year of study is the preferred route to a PhD. Doctoral study may still be a realistic option however, either directly from the BSc or via a Doctoral Training Centre
The value of work experience
Gaining experience is very important, even more so if you are starting your final year in the Autumn term earlier than you had expected. If you are concerned that you haven’t gained the work experience to demonstrate the employability skills all employers require, this summer could be very important for you.
Remember that any experience is valuable – it will help you to answer some of the questions typically asked by graduate recruiters . If you are struggling to identify what could motivate you in a work context, how your values and interests might influence your career choice, experience may help you to also develop a sense of this.
Don’t wait until the start of term
Remember that university careers services are available throughout the summer and could offer the advice, mentoring and support to help you manage the transition to your final year. Take the first step in the summer that will help your future self to reflect that the BSc degree was in fact, the best option for you.