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Why a career change is easier with a conversion course

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We already know that a postgraduate qualification enhances your employability and increases your career opportunities and earning potential. But did you know that postgraduate study is also an excellent way to start a brand new career? There are plenty of opportunities to start a masters degree in a completely new subject by studying a conversion course.

Change of heart

When you studied your undergraduate degree, you most likely had a career path in mind, or perhaps you simply enjoyed the subject and wanted to spend three or four years learning more about it. You might even have gone on to work in that field for a while after graduation but now your interests and priorities have changed and you want a chance to restart. A conversion course is perfect for this.

So what makes a masters degree a conversion course? More ‘traditional’ masters degrees tend to build upon the knowledge you have acquired in your undergraduate degree and provide a continuation of your learning. A conversion course on the other hand will not require you to have any prior knowledge of the subject to gain entry onto the course – most will simply require you to have an undergraduate degree, in any subject. The course will be set up so you will go from having no formal skills and knowledge in the subject at the start, to reaching a high level of expertise by the end of the degree. Remember – the other students who are studying alongside you are in the same position, so don’t worry about your level of knowledge compared to theirs!

Because conversion courses are designed to introduce you to a brand new subject and make you an expert by the end, they are often intensive and challenging, but extremely rewarding. Many of our conversion courses at the University of Sunderland are actually condensed versions of our undergraduate courses – studied in a shorter period of time, and at masters level. However if you find you need to dial down the intensity, most are offered on a part-time basis – some even allow you to study the course full-time but complete your masters project part-time, meaning you have several flexible learning options at your fingertips.

Don’t forget that even though it may be in a completely different subject, your previous degree will actually come in handy as you can use the skills you developed at undergraduate level – such as critical thinking and research analysis.

Two students are sitting on a sculpture of books, reading a text book together and laughing

Thinking of applying?

Conversion courses aren’t for everyone, but if any of the following apply to you, you’ll find they have a lot to offer you:

  • You have a specific career goal in mind, and you need to pick up the professional qualification that will unlock that opportunity for you. A PGCE is a great example of this kind of course, where you need that specific qualification to get in to teaching. Teaching is of course a key worker profession and has huge opportunities for progression and promotion.

  • You want a completely new start and a new career in a specialist field. Many of our courses are tailor-made for just this situation. Take Connor Bromley, a call centre worker and avid Sunderland AFC fan with aspirations to work in sports journalism. He enrolled onto our National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ)-accredited Sports Journalism course, launched a podcast and soon after graduation landed his dream job at the football club he loved.

  • You want to get ahead by diversifying your knowledge and skills. A great example of this is someone like Andrew Corrigan. He had noticed the connection between psychology and education while studying BA (Hons) Primary Education and wanted the opportunity to study the cognitive, social, developmental, and biological aspects of psychology, to deepen his understanding between the two subjects. He therefore decided to enrol onto the MSc Psychology conversion course to continue his development in the field of education. 

  • You’ve been away from education from some time and are looking for a way back into learning. Conversion courses are ideal for building on life experiences and returning to formal education alongside other students who are a little more mature and often more focused on their goals.

  • You want to pursue your passion. That’s exactly what Shannon Hodge did. She studied BA (Hons) Fashion Journalism at undergraduate level, and while she loved the career opportunities journalism brought her, she realised her passion lay in her extracurricular activities, so progressed onto MSc Inequality and Society.

Whatever your reason for choosing a conversion course, the benefits are huge. Very often these degrees combine a higher level of learning which demonstrates your commitment to personal and professional development, with recognised awards from external bodies.

Support and next steps

You may be concerned that you won’t get the same level of support that you would expect on an undergraduate degree. We’re happy to confirm that this is a complete myth! While postgraduate students often have more autonomy than those studying their first degree, you still get all the help and guidance you would expect at any other level of study. From financial advice to wellbeing support you will always have people to turn to. The opportunities to join in with sport, societies and take up employment opportunities are just the same too.


We offer a conversion course to suit just about everyone. Take your next step with a conversion course at the University of Sunderland.

Published: 19 June 2020