Postgraduate Study

Postgraduate study

Postgraduate study is an option that a considerable number of Bolton students choose.  The variety of study options available is incredibly broad which is why it is very important to consider your reasons for pursuing further study and to research the most appropriate options. The information in this section will act as a starting point if you are considering further study.

Study Options

The variety and volume of postgraduate study options presents a great deal of choice. In order to manage this choice effectively it is important to be aware of the type of postgraduate programmes that are available. It is also useful to consider your personal motivation and drivers for further study to ensure that you can make the most appropriate choices. It is also important to consider the mode of study: postgraduate courses are typically available on a part-time and/or distance learning basis in addition to full-time. It is also possible to undertake postgraduate study while in employment, particularly in respect of professionally accredited programmes.

Taught programmes

Higher degrees by instruction (i.e. taught courses) include the MSc, MA and MBA. Masters courses usually last 12 months and include a research project or dissertation (and possibly exams). Some courses focus on academic aspects of a particular subject; others are vocational, often requiring some relevant work experience.

When considering a taught course it is important to ask about course structure, funding availability and the selection process. For vocational courses consider employer involvement and relevance, recognition by the relevant professional body (including exemption from further professional examinations e.g. Accountancy) and whether you need relevant work experience to be accepted.

Research programmes

Higher degrees by research require a period of original research undertaken over 3 years for a doctorate (PhD, DPhil). A shorter period of research (between one and two years) can lead to the award of MPhil. Often seen as useful preparation for a PhD, an MRes takes one year and includes training in research methods. Timescales can be extended if studying part-time. For original research you usually need a minimum of a 2.1. You'll be working very closely with a supervisor so find out about their expertise and track record.

When to apply?

It is important to start researching courses and funding possibilities prior to starting your final year. A useful starting point is Prospects (

Application procedures and timescales do vary between institutions so you will need to research this carefully but generally speaking there is no absolute application deadline for postgraduate study. Exceptions do exist, particularly in relation to vocational programmes such as teaching where clear deadlines are in places.

Funding opportunities also have deadlines attached to them which is an important consideration irrespective of your field of study. Funding deadlines vary but typically will be in January or February. Some programmes and institutions are oversubscribed and competitive meaning that it may be necessary to apply earlier than otherwise anticipated.

Studying Abroad

Further study in a different country is an exciting option to consider and one that can provide additional benefits. Opportunities include undergraduate and postgraduate level study but also a diverse range of short courses. If you are considering a postgraduate programme then it will need all of the research and thought that you'd apply to studying in the UK, but with equal care and attention given to all of the additional variables raised by the prospect of studying in a different country such as:

  • fees and living costs
  • language and culture
  • the quality and relevance of the programme
  • the transferability of the qualification, particularly if it also confers a professional award.

It is important that you explore all of these issues carefully before committing to any programme of study or training abroad.


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