A day in the life of... a postgraduate (taught) student

We asked some current students to tell us what a typical day/week in their University lives is like. Below is an account from one of our postgraduate (taught) students.

Fiona Hobson

Postgraduate (taught) studentProgramme: MSc International Development (Conflict, Security and Development)

Department: International Development

Year of Study: 2

About me: A part-time Masters student living in Birmingham and working in Wolverhampton. As a part-time student I attend University for seminars 1-2 times a week maximum.

Typical day


As everyday is different due to working patterns and study, I’ve decided to lay out a typical Monday/Tuesday; my busiest days.


By 9.00am I’m up and out of my house, heading towards the office of Responding to Conflict (RTC), a charity I volunteer with. The charity designs and coordinates long-term programmes that support local peacebuilding initiatives and provide on-going support to our partners in the midst of conflict. When I reach the office I spend the morning replying to emails, updating spreadsheets and answering the phone. I also support the Programme Manager with any projects they are working on as and when I’m needed, which gives me the opportunity to find out about current situations and the help that can be provided.


At 1.00pm I have lunch at RTC’s office with colleagues then head out to catch the bus.

If I have work

I take the bus to the city centre then catch the train to work. Whilst on the train I use the time to catch up on a bit of seminar reading for any upcoming seminars. I’ve found that as a part-time student you grab any opportunity you can to catch up on reading/assignments and the train is a great place to do this. I work in the Wolverhampton University library, where I work on the enquiries desk, providing help and assistance to students and staff at the University. When I finish work at 7.00pm I head back on the train and normally get home just after 8. Once home I will eat tea, watch a little TV and spend half an hour or so reading some journal articles for my next seminar before going to bed.

If I have a seminar

I take the bus to University to attend a two hour seminar. The seminar will normally involve a mixture of lecture slides, presentations and group discussion. In my current module, Conflict in Developing Countries, we are studying the conflict analysis, which is an area I’ve grown to know more about through my volunteering with RTC. RTC provides training courses, and part of the course focusses on conflict analysis. It’s been useful to see what I study being used in practice within the NGO I volunteer at.

When the seminar finishes at 4.00pm I will probably head to the library to pick up some books for an essay or spend an hour writing my next essay. If essay deadlines seem like a long way off (but I warn you, they come around very quickly!), some of my classmates and I may head to the Guild of Student’s bar for a pint. Then, having left the library/pub I’ll go home, cook tea and maybe watch a bit of TV before starting on essays or seminar reading.

This is my general Monday or Tuesday and whilst there are occasional nights out and events with fellow students throughout the year, as a part-time student you are expected to spend 20 hours a week minimum studying. With work and volunteering this leaves you pretty busy!