The transition from undergraduate study to a postgraduate career can be an anxiety provoking experience for many students. In this study, we explore the shared experience of five “anxious” undergraduate students as they transition from higher education towards their postgraduate careers. Using a qualitative methodology, semi-structured interviews were conducted with five female undergraduate students from different courses at a UK university. A thematic analysis revealed two overarching themes: perceived pressure without sufficient support, and concerns about next steps. The findings suggested the final year is emotionally demanding, and students felt as though there was a lack of provision to manage their transition to postgraduate work or study. Possible implications for policymakers are detailed and areas for research are discussed.


anxiety, university, transition, support, qualitative research methodology, thematic analysis

Author Bio(s)

Catriona Keane has a postgraduate degree in Psychology and conducted this qualitative research during her studies.

Daniel Waldeck, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in Psychology at Coventry University, with expertise in the domains of Applied Psychology and Research Methods. Please direct correspondence to ac8416@coventry.ac.uk.

Andrew Holliman, Ph.D., is a lecturer in Psychology at UCL Institute of Education. His research interests include the psychology of education, teaching, learning in higher education, and the development of children’s literacy.

Simon Goodman, Ph.D., is a senior lecturer in Psychology at DeMontfort University, with expertise in qualitative methods and discursive psychology.

Kubra Choudhry, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Coventry University, with expertise in qualitative methods and health psychology.


We would like to thank the participating Higher Education institution (university) and staff at the Spirituality and Faith Centre for supporting the data collection. We also gratefully acknowledge the support of the students who took part in this research.

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