Advice on further study options

There are 2 main types of postgraduate study:

  • taught courses leading to postgraduate certificates, diplomas or master's qualifications
  • research degrees leading to master's or a PhD

On taught courses you learn through lectures, seminars and tutorials. Some include work placements. You may have the flexibility to tailor modules to fit your interests or career goals.

On research degrees you work independently on a research topic, under an academic supervisor who guides you and helps you develop your investigative skills. You get to work with other research students and academic staff and have access to university resources like labs and equipment.

For both options there are opportunities to study full-time, part-time as well as through flexible and distance learning. Follow our tips and advice including:

Reasons for further study

There are many valid reasons for continuing your studies after a degree. They include to:

  • study a subject you enjoy in more depth
  • get a postgraduate qualification you need for your career choice - like teaching or psychology
  • change career direction- like conversion to law, psychology or graduate entry to medicine
  • cover additional topics if you need them for professional recognition of your degree
  • develop skills that add to your degree subject and are likely to improve your job prospects
  • give yourself time to develop your career ideas

Your university careers service can give you help and advice on your further study options.

Finding courses

Exploring your study options

To find a further study course, you can use sites like:

For international students Study UK from the British Council has information on courses, funding and visa arrangements.

You can also look on university websites. Look out for further study open days or virtual open day events.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements will vary at each institution. Use UCAS or individual university websites to check them.

For some courses you'll need a minimum of a 2:2 in your undergraduate degree. Others may expect a first-class honours degree. You can be accepted with less if you can show that you have other things to offer like relevant work experience. Sometimes offers are lowered if you stay at the university you gained your undergraduate degree.

Applying for further study

As with undergraduate degree courses you’ll need a personal statement and references. For some courses like art and design you will also need a portfolio of your work.

You should start thinking and planning up to a year ahead particularly if you need to put together a portfolio or do some relevant work experience before you make your application. Deadlines vary so you should check with individual universities.

For most courses you will apply to universities directly. For some you may have to apply through UCAS.

For postgraduate teacher training you can apply through UCAS or the Gov.UK Apply service.

Funding for further study

You can take out a postgraduate master’s or doctoral study loan to pay towards fees and living costs.

There may also be scholarships, stipends or bursaries available in some subjects paid by the university, a sponsor or research awarding body.

Some universities offer reduced fees for postgraduate study if you gained your undergraduate degree with them.

If you’re an international student you can find out more about student finance from the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).

Other ways to learn

You can combine working and studying through online learning. Take a look at what’s on offer in The Skills Toolkit and from sites such as Future Learn.

Your local adult education service and further education colleges run professional and vocational courses that may improve your job prospects.

You could also check out professional organisations in our job profiles for the career area you want to get into. They may also offer training, online and short courses for student members.

Top tips for deciding and finding further study

  • start exploring your options early - as much as 1 year ahead if you can
  • go to postgraduate study fairs - some may be virtual
  • look at the careers support services on offer for postgrads and ask what previous students have gone on to do
  • make sure the course is officially recognised if you need it for entry to a profession
  • check out your funding options
  • have someone check your personal statement and application form
  • get permission from academic staff to use them as a reference
  • make a note of important deadlines and make sure you get your applications in on time
  • keep in touch with your university careers service for regular postgraduate study updates

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