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Institute of Continuing Education (ICE)

Students on IPM course

As Michaelmas term began, ICE welcomed the inaugural cohort to its new Advanced Diploma in Research Theory and Practice in English (International Pre-Master’s) – a full-time matriculated programme that helps global graduates bridge towards postgraduate study at leading universities. The COVID-19 crisis has made it a challenging start for everyone, but the course is already supporting its first students, writes Head of Academic Centre Administration for Professional Studies, Shamiso Barnett.

The International Pre-Master’s (IPM) is a nine-month full-time programme that helps students prepare for Master’s-level study at leading English-speaking universities. The course aims to develop students’ research methods and practices, their English language and academic literary skills, and their understanding of current and emerging themes in their chosen pathway.

Our first IPM focuses on Business Management, and students from countries including Japan, China, Morocco and the Netherlands began arriving in mid-September for two weeks of quarantine. We made careful arrangements with their College accommodation to ensure they could stay safely.

After quarantine, we held a (physically distanced) welcome event at Madingley Hall, enabling students to meet their teaching team and experience traditional Cambridge dining. Over the next week, we introduced the group to their English Language and Business modules and set them a city-wide ‘treasure hunt’ to help them navigate Cambridge and find well-known locations. Once government restrictions are relaxed, we hope to offer excursions to famous places further afield.

Learning from different cultural viewpoints

The students are already impressing their tutors: engaging with the course and their research projects, holding thought-provoking discussions and sharing a good range of cultural perspectives. It’s so encouraging because such positive, collective engagement helps all the students flourish. They’re thinking about their futures too – making use of the University Careers Service to consider their Master’s paths. I’m delighted to say they all have Cambridge in their top three choices.

We’ve been able to continue with face-to-face teaching, taking a COVID-19-secure approach. That ability to exchange ideas with each other in-person is a huge part of the experience, and it’s also the best way to quickly upscale English language skills.

Every student is a full member of one of three University of Cambridge colleges: Girton, Lucy Cavendish or Wolfson. This means they get to use resources like libraries and share accommodation with their College peers. Engaging with postgraduate students who can explain what it’s like to study a Master’s at Cambridge is central to the experience.

We want our IPM students to be well, happy and comfortable asking questions, so they have their own student representative, and we hold virtual coffee mornings and one-on-one surgeries for them. It’s reassuring to know they’re meeting up for outdoor exercise at weekends too.

More IPM opportunities for 2020-21

For 2020 – 21, we plan to offer Business Management and Engineering pathways. Right now, we’re running Virtual Open Days and Research Proposal Workshops for prospective students – understanding likely research proposals helps us pick the best supervisors. Potential students can also arrange web chats with us to ask questions. The application deadline is 31 March, 2021.

We’re delighted our first IPM programme has started so well despite the obvious challenges. It’s an excellent way for international students to improve their English, develop their research skills and experience study at one of the world’s leading academic institutions.

Learn more

Find out more about the International Pre-Master’s programme and how to join us in 2021–22.


This article was originally published in the Lent - Easter 2021 edition of Inside ICE.



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