I have 2 PgDips, do they have any value at all?


I come from a UK art school background and have a BA (Hons) 1st Class in Fine Art & Humanities. After doing really well in my undergraduate dissertation I enrolled to study for an academic post graduate in Art History. I left with the PgDip because in all honesty I realised that while I enjoyed researching and writing I also wanted to focus on studio practice just as much, if not more.

Then a few years later I was accepted on to a PgDip in Fine Art at one of the London art schools which I completed and was offered a place on the Masters course. During my time my academic tutor said I was "clearly a scholar" and suggested I consider an advanced degree once I completed my masters.

In the end I did not complete my Masters at that Art School. I did not have the funds to continue so took a year out to earn the money to continue but as I saved the money I began to feel unhappy with what the School had to offer me. The academic staff were great but the facilites were very poor. I had no studio space to work in and no darkroom facilities which was very difficult as I work mostly in anaglog photography (these facilities were available when I applied and was accepted but were removed the summer before I enrolled). While I was away from London rents skyrocketed making it even more unaffordable to me and I eventually gave up my place.

So now I am left with a BA and 2 PgDips and I am told the PgDip = a failed Masters in most peoples eyes. I do work as an artist now but I miss researching and writing. I still do some of this in my spare time but have no place for it to go. I sometimes think about applying for an MPhil at an Art School so with both studio work and a thesis but I worry that my 2 x PgDip's will just look bad and spoil my chances.

Is it possible to apply for an MPhil with 2 x PgDip or if not it it possible to "upgrade" to a Masters years later at a different university?


I don't think you are accurate about considering a pgdip as failed masters. there are some terminal pgdips. Sometimes people need theory and practical skills and don't need or want research skills.

As for you personal situation, I think you made all the right choices so far. especially concerning the second masters/pgdip.... that could have ended up being a disaster if there wasn't the supports you needed to do your work.

all considered, you had good reasons for leaving both courses with pgdip. But you still will have to be careful about how you market yourself to schools when applying for Mphil... I would be afraid that your decision to leave your first masters because you didn't think you would enjoy research might raise some red flags (though I still think you made the right decision for you at the time).

I wonder is it better to just leave that one off your c.v when applying for the Mphil. I don't know if they would ever find out. Might just make it easier. I would be interested in hearing other people's thoughts on this.

I would imagine you could in person explain yourself; but on paper it might not look great.

Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

I'm afraid you're in a little pickel here with a PGDip seen as a failed M.Sc. or M.A. in the same way an MPhil or MRes can be seen as a failed PhD. These are assumptions any interviewer will make unless you explain clearly why this is not the case.

To get round this, you really need to sell yourself and explain that, for example, you left with a PGDip first time round because you wanted to pursue Studio work. Financial reasons for the second instance seems reasonable to me.

That said, you've pulled out twice and that isn't going to look good. This means you have quite a sales pitch to make as anyone looking to take you on will need to be sure you're not going to pull out again, even with a good first class degree to back you up.

Would it not be worth waiting a couple of years working and building up financial reserves, also perhaps demonstrating more fully you are older and (sales pitch here) "more mature" as a person. You have had time to reflect, say, and know after a lot of thought that a research path is the one you want to take. Relevant employment over this period may also help build up your profile.

London prices are frightening and you might consider somewhere outide London, unless the path of study you want to follow is at a London institution.

I had to sell two Masters to people (I thought I'd failed one due to ill health thus did a second, different one), which made me seem more like a perpetual student. I thus took time out in the real world for as it turned out five years before applying for and being accepted onto a PhD (though admittedly there were two failed applications in the intervening period one and three years into this period).

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)