Postgraduate study options
Find and apply for the right course to suit your career aims, and find out how to get funding.
There are opportunities to join full-time or part-time courses. You can also study through flexible and distance learning.
Types of postgraduate education
There are 2 main types of postgraduate study - taught courses and research degrees.
Taught courses give you a postgraduate certificate, diploma or master's qualification. 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.
You'll get a master's or a PhD from a research degree. You work alone on a research topic. An academic supervisor guides you and helps you develop your investigative skills.
While studying, you'll:
- work with other research students and academic staff
- get access to university resources, like labs and equipment
Reasons to do a postgraduate course
You might choose to continue your studies after a degree to:
- study a subject you enjoy in more depth
- get a qualification you need for your career, like teaching or psychology
- change career, by taking a course like Graduate Entry Medicine or a law conversion course
- cover topics you need for a professional body to recognise 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 you work out your options. Check how long you'll access to the service so you do not miss out on the opportunity once you graduate.
You can find postgraduate courses on websites like like:
You can also look on university websites for open day or virtual events.
Study UK has information on courses, funding and visa arrangements for international students. The British Council provides the Study UK service.
For some courses you need at least a 2:2 (lower second-class honours) undergraduate degree. For others, you might need a first-class honours degree.
Always check the entry requirements with the course provider or UCAS.
If you do not meet entry requirements
A university may accept you with less if you show other strengths on your application, such as:
- relevant work experience
- a strong personal statement
- links with the university - like you got your undergraduate degree there
- a good mentor or tutor to support you
Try different routes and explore other options if your first choice does not work out.
Applying for postgraduate courses
As with undergraduate degree courses, you’ll need a personal statement and references. For some courses like art and design, you'll also need a portfolio of your work.
You should plan ahead as best you can. It may help to start thinking about it up to a year before you apply. This is especially true if you need to create a portfolio or find relevant work experience.
Deadlines vary. You should check with the university or organisation you're applying to.
For most courses you will apply to universities directly. For some you may have to apply through UCAS.
You can find out about postgraduate teaching qualifications at Get into Teaching.
You can get a Postgraduate Master’s Loan or Doctoral Loan to help pay your course fees and living costs.
In some subjects you may also be able to get a scholarship, stipend or bursary. The university, a sponsor or research awarding body pays these to you.
Some universities offer reduced fees if you did your undergraduate degree with them.
There are also some scholarships and finding opportunities for international students.
Preparing for your course
To prepare for your postgraduate course:
- start exploring your options early, up to year ahead if you can
- go to postgraduate study fairs, either in person or online
- look at the career support on offer and ask what previous students have gone on to do
- make sure the course is recognised, if you need it for the profession you're going into
- 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
Other learning options
You can find professional and vocational courses in your local area. These may improve your job prospects.
Find out what's offered by your local:
- adult education service
- further education colleges
You can explore careers you're interested in to learn about certain jobs. This will tell you which professional organisations may offer training for student members.
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