Many of us on the Bodleian Libraries traineeship may be considering undertaking the MA or PG Diploma in Library and Information Studies at some point in the future. I hope that this article will be interesting and useful for the current cohort, as well as any future trainees who may be reading this (or anyone engaged in a relentless Google search regarding doing a Library Masters, or related, course).
The first thing to consider is which institutions in the UK actually offer the MA degree. The main ones are:
- University College London (in person)
- Sheffield University (offers both in person and Distance Learning)
- Aberystwyth University (offers both in person and Distance Learning)
- Robert Gordan University (located in Aberdeen) (Distance Learning)
- University of Strathclyde (located in Glasgow) (in person)
All of the above are accredited by the UK’s Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).
There are also other courses which have a focus on different aspects of librarianship: for example, Library and Information Management at Manchester Metropolitan University has a specialist option unit focusing on Health Librarianship, “devised in conjunction with the NHS Library and Knowledge Services North to address a specific industry need for more library and information professionals in this sector.”
I found this quite interesting because it allows you to consider how dynamic different aspects of librarianship can be outside of the academic and public spheres:
Some other slightly more unconventional programmes of study that might also be of interest:
The Institute of English Studies (part of the School of Advanced Study, itself a postgraduate wing of the University of London) offers an MA/MRes in the History of the Book. It’s specifically geared towards those with an interest in the rare book trade and has an internship with an antiquarian bookseller as one of its components. They also run the London Rare Books School (LRBS), a series of five-day, intensive courses on a variety of book-related topics taught in and around Senate House, University of London. This can be attended as part of the MA or separately (it’s also possible to apply for a bursary to cover some of the cost of attending).
Similarly, the University of Edinburgh has a one-year taught MSc in Book History and Material Culture, which is run by the Centre for the History of the Book (CHB), founded as an “international and interdisciplinary centre for advanced research into all aspects of the material culture of the text, from manuscripts to electronic texts.” It is accredited by CILIP and seems to have a particular focus on special collections management in terms of conservation, digitisation and display.
The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing have a comprehensive listing relating to these types of courses, which you can find here.
When we think of funding a postgraduate course, the first thing that comes to mind is usually:
a) There isn’t any or b) I’ll need to take out loans, loans and more loans !!
It is true that the main source of funding available is through loans (including the Postgraduate Master’s Loan, which is maximum about £11,000).
However, I have discovered that although there is certainly a scarcity of funding, there are in fact several options available to supplement a loan/savings.
A lot of the institutions above offer PG scholarships and will have them available to search on their site. Once you have accepted an offer, you will often be given the option of opting in automatically to be considered for certain scholarships, and others you may need to apply for separately.
Museums Archives and Libraries Wales (CyMAL) offers library staff working in Wales up to £3,000 to undertake the MA by Distance Learning. There is also funding available from CILIP, mainly for attending conferences.
The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding Online is a funding resource for current and prospective postgraduate students studying at UK universities, focusing on unusual or obscure sources of funding from private charities that offer bursaries and grants to students to fund PG study. It was founded by students who themselves won many of these charity awards as a mean of funding their PG education, and contains a database of nearly 1,000 sources of this type of funding. The database is constantly being updated and added to. It also promises to be “a methodology rather than simply a finding tool,” containing reams of information on not only how to find funding that is applicable to your circumstances, but also the best way to go about applying to be considered for it. Oxford has a full subscription to the AGO, so trainees can set up an account and access the information for free.
The Book Trade Charity also provides grants to support those under the age of 30 who want to enter the book trade in terms of supporting apprenticeships, internships etc.
The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers, also known as the Stationers’ Company, offer postgraduate bursaries to students who have received an offer to study on a list of specific degree programmes at particular institutions, which range from conservation to publishing to photojournalism. In terms of Library and Information Studies, you can apply for this bursary if you are doing the MA at University College London. The bursary is for up to £6,000 and as well as this, the applicant “will be offered the opportunity to receive mentoring during their studies from a member of the Stationers’ Company, taking into account the specific interests of the student.”
The criteria states that “Applicants must normally be under 25 on 1st September 2020, resident in the UK, and classified as paying UK tuition fees.” However, if you are between 25 and 30 and want to apply, it says to “please discuss your application with the relevant Course Director and Administrator,” so it seems as though someone who is 25-30 may still be in with a chance !
They also have a really useful PDF which gives a listing of many other places to look for funding and can be found at the bottom of this page.
There are way more options and resources out there than you might think at first glance, and I hope that anyone reading this has found it helpful as a starting point.