These are usually delivered by unversities and are often essential for entry into certain professions such as Law. They will almost certainly help you to gain recognition in your chosen field and help you with career progression. An Honours degree is usually a requirement and often relevant experience in some sectors is also a necessity. Duration of these qualifications depends on the sector and type of award but they often take up to 12 months to complete full-time.
Masters courses (MA, MSc, MBA and Med) are usually either one year full-time or two years part-time, cover the subjects studied at degree level in further detail and are assessed by exams, coursework and research projects. Honours degree is usually a requirement and some programmes will require a 2:1 classification as a minimum.
The best known research qualification is the PhD. Other possible courses are the MA and MSc degrees by research and MPhil, which is sometimes taken before embarking on a PhD. PhDs involve contributing new knowledge via an original piece of research or thesis that is worthy of publication. They can take three to four years to complete and maybe even longer if undertaking on a part-time basis. A high 2:1 or 1st in a relevant honours degree is usually required for PhD study, while MPhils have a less demanding pre-entry requirement.
Start planning early for postgraduate study: take time to consider the best options for you. Ensure you have researched all the relevant courses and that your reasons for continuing with your education are strong. For some programmes you may need relevant work experience, so careful planning will ensure that you can achieve this in time.
Assess the content and programme features: when you have found a programme that interests you, look carefully at the content, and consider the facilities and resources that will be made available to you. It is also worth looking at the research rating and reputation of the institution that you are applying to.
Check out the application deadlines: applications for postgraduate study are dealt with in a different way to undergraduate courses, so make sure you allow yourself enough time to submit a quality application.
Research possible funding streams: make sure you know how you can get funding, and ensure you apply in plenty of time. If you intend to provide your own finance ensure that you will be able to cover all your personal expenses and costs.
After paying for life as an undergraduate, deciding to stay on and undertake further study is not a decision you can take lightly. Postgraduate study is expensive and fees can vary from institution to institution. Many universities offer funding, scholarships and even discounts on course fees. The funding system is very complex so it is advisable to seek further guidance.