UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE)


Reina Sasaki

Meet Reina who has gone on to study Comparative Education MA here at UCL.


What's your background?

I am from Saitama, next to Tokyo, in Japan, and have a Bachelor's degree in Policy Studies from Chuo University in Japan.

That was an interdisciplinary course and I gained knowledge in various areas and joined some projects.

Why did you choose to study at UCL?

Usually, a Master's degree in the UK is a one-year course, however, I wanted to have one more year to get used to every single new thing, because it would be my first time studying abroad for a long time and I'm interested in a future PhD course.

And I found that having the International Pre-Master's course can be helpful. There were not so many universities which offer that course. Among them, the UCL course was a perfect choice to me to apply for my UCL MA degree programme.

What course do you study now and what is it like?

Currently, I am a Comparative Education MA student at UCL.

It is an interdisciplinary course in the fields of education and policy. I take four modules in total (graded by 5,000-word essays for each) and write a 20,000-word dissertation.

IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society, has been ranked best in the world for education for the last 11 years in a row, so it is of course challenging course (QS Subject Rankings 2024).

How has the International Pre-Master's helped you in your Master’s degree?

I have a bunch of reading and writing to do on my Master's degree. The academic skills I learned in the IPM, like academic writing (including references), reading skills, critical thinking and subject-based knowledge, helps me hugely.

I also had the opportunity to improve more general skills on the IPM which was really important.

These are things like time management, communication skills with coursemates, tutors and lecturers, and having one year to get used to the UK education and academic system and a new life in a new environment, and build self-confidence to live and study in London.

What was the biggest challenge you faced during your time on the International Pre-Master's and how did you overcome it?

Finding my own learning style was the biggest challenge, I would probably say.

I am still learning how I can study and build the most comfortable studying environment, but during the IPM, I could try a lot. And that experience helps me a lot of this never-ending exploration.

What advice would you give to a prospective International Pre-Master's student?

Do not *just* study! That might sound like weird advice, but you come to London not just to study, but also to live, explore and socialise.

It is of course important to manage your study time, but it might be more important to find the time to enjoy your life in London, or even in the UK or Europe.

Your future Master's degree could be more intense than the IPM, so please try to communicate with your coursemates, visit free museums, parks, galleries and libraries and explore restaurants and shops to make yourself feel relaxed. 

Also, please try to make mistakes as much as you can! The IPM has really helpful staff who can help you with any mistakes you are making and teach you how to do it the right way.

What is it like to live and study in London?

London is a multicultural city where people from a wide variety of backgrounds, cultures and nationalities love.

For me, personally as a Japanese, it’s great to have some nice Asian shops and restaurants.

In terms of public safety, it’s not too bad but still better to be careful probably. However in general, I love living in London!

However, if you are from Japan like me, never ever expect public transport like we know. And strikes? Yes, a lot.

How is the UK education system different to your home country?

Compared to Japanese higher education I've experienced, there are some differences obviously.

University in the UK has more systematic support, for example, tutoring systems, disability support and digital guide and accessibly assistance.

Additionally, I would say the style of classes also defers. Here in the UK, they are more interactive and discussion based.

Where did you live while studying on the IPM?

I live in a University of London accommodation, not in a UCL one. The University of London is a group of most of the universities in London.

So we have students from UCL and other universities too, like King’s College London, London School of Economics and Political Science, London Business School, Birkbeck, Royal Academy of Music and The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

That is so lovely to see someone from different universities, having socialising events and listening someone’s opera sometimes!