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Course / Postgrad
Find a postgraduate course in the UK
Choosing a course / university
  Scholarships / funding / finance
  Further information
Related pages:
Guide (information for all types of student)
  MBA (study at a business school)


If you have already graduated from university (in other words, have an Honours degree or its equivalent), you may choose to take a postgraduate course.

To find a postgraduate programme in the UK, see the following postgraduate directory:!eacge
You can select either Course or Research, and choose Full time, Part time or Distance learning. If there is a specialist field which interests you which is not listed as one of the "subject areas", use the "optional keyword". Once you have obtained the search results, you can find out more by clicking on a "Programme/Course title". Click on the "Institution" name to find out who to contact for brochures, application forms or further information.

Before you apply, think carefully what you may want to do after your course. If the main reason you are considering doing a postgraduate course is to improve your career prospects, ask potential employers whether they prefer candidates to have postgraduate qualifications or work experience. Your choice of subject is important: more options may be available if you can avoid specialising too narrowly.

Postgraduate study may not be a good idea if the real reason is because your family wants you to do it, or because you haven't put much thought or effort into looking for a job. Some good reasons to consider postgraduate study are:
- because you enjoy your subject and want to spend more time studying it
- because you want to broaden your knowledge by studying a taught course in a new subject
- because you want to follow a career which requires specialised knowledge (for example as a researcher, or as an academic)

The main types of postgraduate courses are:

A Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) or a Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert) is a taught course lasting about 9 months (usually from September to June). People who are interested in teaching sometimes study for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). There is usually no requirement to produce a written dissertation to obtain a postgraduate diploma: they are considered to be less academic than a Masters degree. These courses are often largely vocational.

A Taught Masters course (sometimes known as "postgraduate qualifications by coursework") is a taught course lasting 1 year full-time (or 2 years part-time). To be accepted you normally need to have a good undergraduate degree, but not necessarily in the same subject. There is a fixed curriculum, and an exam at the end. Teaching usually involves a mixture of lectures, seminars and tutorials. Students must produce a written dissertation at the end of the course (an essay often of between 10,000 and 20,000 words). The most common qualifications are an MA (Master of Arts), MSc (Master of Science), MMus (Master of Music), LLM (Master of Laws).
A Research Masters is a 1 year full-time (or 2 years part-time) course. It involves working to produce an original study known as a thesis (an essay often of between 30,000 and 40,000 words). Students work largely on their own, but are guided by a supervisor. The qualification is an MRes (Master of Research).
More information about masters courses in the UK is available on the websites: and

An MPhil (Master of Philosophy) is a supervised research course in any subject (not only philosophy) which requires 2 years of full-time study (4 years if part-time). The most able students can choose to continue studying to obtain a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy, sometimes called DPhil), which requires a total of at least 3 years of original research (6 years if part-time), including the time spent working towards the MPhil. Both an MPhil or a PhD require the completion of a thesis, and may require you to attend a spoken interview (known either as a viva voce or a viva). If someone becomes established for their academic work in a certain field of study, it is possible for them to be awarded a higher doctorate such as a DLitt (Doctor of Letters) a DSc (Doctor of Science) or an LLD (Doctor of Laws).
For information about PhD research opportunities for scientists, see: Post-doctoral opportunities for scientists can be found in the site:

Postgraduate Study in the UK: The International Student's Guide
Authors: Professor Nicholas H Foskett, Mrs Ros Foskett
Publisher: Sage Publications
Date: September 2006
The Postgraduate Research Handbook
Author: Gina Wisker
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Date: October 2007
How to Get a PhD
Authors: Estelle M. Phillips, Derek S. Pugh
Publisher: Open University Press
Date: October 2010

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Unlike undergraduate courses (which are administered by UCAS), the administration for applications to postgraduate courses are done by the universities themselves. Check the university's website for details of how to apply and the deadlines. Usually an application form can be downloaded, or it can be requested from the admissions office. Courses normally start at the end of September or in early October. Often applications are made at the end of the previous year or at the start of the year in which the course starts, although applications may be accepted later than this.

You may be asked to provide a course transcript. This is a report from your university about the subjects and dates of the courses you have taken, and the grades which you obtained. This will need to be translated into English if it is provided in a different language - the university will tell you the rules about this.

You will also probably be asked for references - usually the names of two people who have supervised your university work (referred to as academic referees). For some courses a referee from a workplace may be acceptable. You should ask for permission before you use someone's name as a referee.

If you are taking a research course, you will need to write a research proposal. In this proposal you outline the research topic you are suggesting, your research method, and the sources of information which you intend to use.

If you are taking a taught course you will need to complete a supporting statement. In this statement you outline the reasons why you wish to take the course and why you think you are a suitable candidate. You should always adapt your statement to the particular course and university to which you are applying.

Each course will specify minimum requirements for your previous university results. It is commonly specified that you need a minimum of a "2:1 first degree or overseas equivalent". In the UK the results of a first degree (usually obtained after 3 or 4 years of full-time study at university) are as follows: a first (1) is top, then an upper second (or 2:1, pronounced "two-one"), then a lower second (or 2:2, pronounced "two-two"), then a third (3). For those students from countries which follow the US system, universities sometimes specify a minimum GPA, for example 3.2 out of 4 (the level may depend on which university and which course you are taking).

There will also be a minimum requirement for your level of English. Often you will be asked to provide a recent IELTS score (or TOEFL score) as evidence.

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The average course fees for a one-year postgraduate programme is about £3,000 for students from the EEA (European Economic Area).
Non-EEA students pay on average about £7,000 for an arts subject or £8,000 for a science subject. Clinical studies and MBAs can be about double these amounts.
Living costs for an academic year are about £6,000 (more in London).

Most postgraduate courses are funded by students themselves. However, it is worth investigating possible sources of financial help.

If you are not from the UK, contact the British Council in your country as early as possible to find out about scholarships which are available to study in the UK. For information about sources of funding, see the British Council's scholarships database: General information is available at:

The following are some other websites, books or newspapers to check for funding opportunities:
- UK residents may be able to get support from a Research Council ( or from the Arts and Humanities Research Board ( Applications are usually made through your university, although direct applications apply in some arts subjects.
- Overseas Research Students Award Scheme (ORS):
- British Chevening scholarships (if you will use your study in the UK to help your home country):
- The Grants Register (see below): a list of sources of funding for postgraduate students in many countries, including the UK. It is expensive to buy, but is available in many reference libraries and careers centres. Many charities or trusts do not allow for direct applications from individuals, but require you to apply through your university department. You may need to satisfy them that you have already explored other possible sources of funding.
- There is a database of scholarships at:
- Information about studentships:
- The weekly Times Higher Education Supplement (
- The Guardian newspaper's education supplement on Tuesdays (
- Check related journals for advertised funding opportunities
- PhD students may consider non-advertised opportunities. Find out about organisations are involved in research and producing a grant proposal (with your supervisor's support).
- If you are currently working for a company, ask your employer if it is prepared to sponsor your study.

Grants Register: 2011
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Date: July 2010

After you have been accepted on a course, you should contact your university department. Ask if there are any scholarships for which you can apply. You may want to ask if there are any opportunities to work - for example, as a researcher's assistant or giving tutorials to undergraduate students. You are expected to be able to pay for the whole of your course if you accept a place on a course, but if you get into unexpected financial trouble during your course, there may be a hardship fund which can help you to finish your course.

For most people who take a full-time postgraduate course, finding a part-time job is the best way to get money. For rules about working and information about looking for a job, see: Work. If you are working full-time in the UK, you may be able to take a part-time postgraduate course at the same time (these usually take twice as long to complete as full-time courses). If you are planning to combine work and study, check carefully with your employer and university to make sure that your work requirements will not conflict with your studies.

You may need to borrow money. If you are studying abroad in the UK, it may be easier to obtain a loan from a bank in your home country. You may want to ask members of your family if they can help to support you. Always make sure that you understand what interest payments are required, when you need to repay the loan, and what will happen if you cannot repay the loan on time. Be very careful about loan companies, as some may charge high interest rates and put a lot of pressure on you if you cannot pay. If you are from the UK or EEA (European Economic Area) and are taking a vocational (job-related) course, you may be able to apply for a Career Development Loan:

Remember that exchange rates can change rapidly. It may be safer for international students to transfer money to the UK at the start of your course. Put this in a Sterling deposit account in a UK-based bank or building society and earn interest (see: Life/Money). Otherwise you may be in trouble if your savings are in a currency whose value suddenly falls sharply for some reason.

For further information about funding for international students, see the UKCISA guidance note "Sources of funding for international students" at:

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Obtaining a postgraduate qualification does not necessarily make it easier to get a job, unless you are applying for a technical role which makes direct use of what you have been studying.

Below are some ways to list employers who may be interested in your specialist knowledge:
- Talk to your supervisor and others within your department
- Ask the university's careers service if they have collected information about the jobs which have been obtained by previous students.
- Look for adverts in relevant journals, or speakers/sponsors at related conferences
- Search the internet for commercial references to your specialism
- Find out which companies fund research in your subject

Many people do not make direct use of their research in their jobs. When applying to companies, consider your responses to concerns that your interviewer may have, for example:
- you are too academic, and not sufficiently practical
- you are not used to working to tight deadlines
- you may be unhappy to apply yourself to simple but important tasks
- you do not have a good knowledge of office software

You may be able to address some of these concerns with some forward planning. For example, you may get some appropriate experience in a part-time job before or during your course, or you can make use of university courses (often free) which teach you about office software such as spreadsheets or database tools.

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For information about postgraduate study in the UK:
FindAMasters: ; FindAPHD: ; FindAPostDoc:

The RAE (Research Assessment Exercise) is an assessment of the quality of research at UK universities (by subject and university) which is carried out every 5-10 years.
The results of RAE 2001 are available here:
The results of RAE 2008 are due to be published in December 2008. See:

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The cost of living in the UK: Prepare/Cost
UK immigration: Prepare/Visa
Working rules in the UK: Work/Rules
Managing your money: Life/Money

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