Ask the Expert: How to Get the Most out of a Postgraduate Study Fair |
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Posted on 9 Jan '18

Ask the Expert: How to Get the Most out of a Postgraduate Study Fair

Study fairs like Postgrad LIVE! can be a great way to narrow down your search for a Masters or PhD, but how do they actually work? And what should you do before, during and after an event? Tom Pinder has worked in postgraduate recruitment for several years and has plenty of experience providing advice to prospective students at events. He shares some tips in this special guest post.

If you’re considering postgraduate study one of the best things you can do is attend one of the many postgraduate study fairs that take place throughout the year. If you ever attended a UCAS fair when in college or sixth form you’ll immediately realise the value of such events; if you are attending one of these fairs for the first time, say, for a career change, they provide the perfect stage for you to find out more about your course and how best to utilise your previous qualifications or experience.

Whatever your reason for going, fairs are an invaluable platform and allow you to talk to university representatives face-to-face to help you make your postgraduate study decisions. With that in mind, here is some advice for getting the most out of your visit.


Postgraduate study fairs take place all over the country and all throughout the year. However, you’ll find that many of them occur between late October to March, primarily to align with funding deadlines.

Before attending a fair you’ll want to find out who is running the event and if the institutions you are interested in are attending. This can usually be found in a published exhibitor list.

Moreover, many events also provide a full suite of talks. Some cover general but important information, like student finance and your application. Others are delivered by specific universities about particular programmes that may interest you. All of these talks provide a wealth of useful information, and whilst the fair may run for several hours, it can often be useful to plan your visit around these talk times.

Once you’ve established when and where the fair is and who is attending, it’s a good idea to start drawing up a list of questions.

In comparison to a UCAS or undergraduate fair you will often find that you’ll have a lot more time to talk to each universities’ representative, so coming in with several questions that you would like answers for is a really strong use of your time.

These can be about things applicable to postgraduate study at any university, like funding, applying, or what the university or department is like. You may also want to ask about a specific programme (what it covers, entry requirements, class sizes, etc).

Whilst all the representatives there will endeavour to answer your questions to the best of their ability, sometimes questions about specific course modules or areas of research (especially if you are considering a PhD) may be better directed to the relevant academic department. Staff present on the day are often from central recruitment teams who know information across a wide range of subjects, as opposed to being specialists in a particular academic area.

This doesn’t mean a fair isn’t useful. University representatives will normally be able to put you in touch with relevant academic staff, or find the right contact details for a Masters or PhD programme you’re interested in. Making this initial contact can also be a nice way to ‘get the ball rolling’ with your application.

At the event

Asking your questions and getting your answers will likely be your number one priority, as well as attending any relevant talks.

One thing I always encourage students to do at these events is to also talk to each other. Not only are you all in the room for the same reason, but your own experiences as an undergraduate or postgraduate Masters student at one university may be useful when talking to others. Don’t be afraid of getting yourself a brew and a biscuit and having a chat with the other visitors.

Remember too that exhibitors like me want to talk to you, so there’s no need to be shy.

Equally, feel free to ask for our contact details. Often the literature we have, prospectuses, contact cards, and so on, will have contact information on, but if you are looking for help and information throughout your journey to postgraduate study, we will happily help you through the steps as new questions arise. Even if you ask us things we don’t know, we’ll be able to talk to our colleagues and put you in touch with the right people.

One thing worth considering is keeping an open mind about your course options. What many students don’t often realise is that their undergraduate qualification or previous work experience doesn’t just limit them to studying in a specific field. In fact, many undergraduate subjects in one discipline actually lend themselves extremely well to postgraduate study in another.

It is of course of paramount importance for you to make the right decision around your chosen course, but remember that there might actually be more options available to you than you initially realise, and we would be happy to talk to you about those too!


Hopefully a fair will answer your questions about postgraduate study. Time after the event can then be spent on working towards completing your application armed with this new info.

Feel free to keep up a dialogue as you go through this process, either with the representative from the fair, an academic, or both. This way, you’ll get the support you need as you make your application. Plus, speaking from experience I can say that nothing makes a recruiter’s day more than seeing someone they met at a fair walking around campus as a student one day!

It's also a good idea to get the details for any upcoming open days at universities you've chatted to.

More and more universities now run open days specifically for postgraduate students, often two or three times a year, and once you’ve narrowed down your course choice you should ideally be thinking about visiting a campus and coming to speak to the academics on a more detailed basis.

Not only will this allow you to see exactly what facilities are on offer, but conversing face-to-face with the academics is a great way to get in-depth insight from the very people who will be teaching and supervising your work.

Closing thoughts

There are plenty of ways to get the most out of your time at a postgraduate study fair, and this article just provides you with some of the best ways of doing so.

Every university wants their students to go on to achieve the best they can do, and that process starts even before you’ve enrolled, often with a smile and a chat with a member of the university recruitment team.

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Last Updated: 09 January 2018