Undertaking postgraduate study needs careful planning and consideration.  It can often be very expensive, so you need to be clear about why you want to undertake further study, and ensure you find out everything you can about funding and costs before you make that final decision.

Some of the benefits of undertaking a postgraduate qualification include:

  • Pursuing a subject you enjoy
  • Will give you a competitive edge when competing for graduate positions
  • Enables you to specialise in your chosen field
  • Enables entry to academic careers
  • Helps to develop and enhance your employability skills

Taught Courses

The two main types of taught courses are Masters degrees and postgraduate certificates/diplomas.  They cover a wide range of subject areas. A Masters is usually offered either full time over one year or part time over two years.  Courses can include placements, practical or research projects and supervised lab work. Successful completion usually involves passing exams, assessed projects and submitting a dissertation on a relevant topic.

Research Degrees

The most familiar research qualification is the PhD.  Other possible courses are the MA and MSc degrees by research and the MPhil, which is sometimes taken before embarking on a PhD. A PhD involves 'contributing new knowledge' in a well designed research project or thesis that is worthy of publication.  There may be some taught units on the course but the PhD is awarded mainly on the quality of the final thesis.  They take three to four years full time or five to seven years part time, to complete. The majority of research degrees are taken at universities and higher education institutions.

Professional Qualifications

These are usually qualifications which have been awarded by professional bodies.  They involve practical training, allowing you to gain relevant job-related skills and experience in your chosen field.  Undertaking these qualifications can help with career progression, which could lead to an increase in level and salary.  They show you have a recognised level of competence and a commitment to developing your professional career.

Applying for Postgraduate Study

Careful time and planning needs to be given to any application for postgraduate study.  There may only be a limited number of places on the course you want to undertake, and admission tutors will be looking for candidates with good academic potential who are motivated to learn, and are able to articulate clearly, why they want to undertake the course of study.  

Whatever your reasons are, you need to provide evidence of your suitability, and what you have done to research your subject.

The style of application depends on the institution and course but most usually include questions about your source of funding, require a personal statement and ask you to name your referees or send a reference.

View Timeline for Postgraduate Applications for a quick overview of what you should be doing and when.

Funding for Postgraduate Study

Getting funding for postgraduate study can be extremely difficult.  Many people subsidise their studies by working part-time.  Fees can vary between institutions, but wherever you choose to undertake your postgraduate qualification, the cost can be quite high.  It is always a good idea to check with the University, about how their current students fund their courses.

Useful information on funding for postgraduate study

Charity Funding Resources

Other Useful Links

FindAMasters.com - Taught and Research Masters Courses

FindAPhD.com - Large database of PhD Programmes, Research projects and Studentships

PostgraduateForum.com - Help and advice forums for postgraduate students

PostGrad.com - search for postgraduate courses

Masters Compare - students can have a look at over 120 courses with funding so far

Working and doing a masters - useful information and advice


Masters Study

Gain a postgraduate scholarship in 2018 from FindAMasters.com and win your share of £12,000 on offer.  Available for all subject areas at any University currently listed on FindAMasters.com.  Register now!