What Postgraduate course?
Postgraduate qualifications tend to be divided into taught courses and research degrees and studentships.
- These include masters courses, postgraduate diplomas/certificates, other specialist courses and a wide range of professional qualifications.
- Conversion Courses are taught courses and take one academic year, these are short vocationally orientated qualifications designed to enable graduates of one discipline to acquire skills and training in a different discipline. Examples include conversion courses in computing/ information technology for graduates without a first degree in this area.
- Research involves the in-depth study of a specific field, usually related to your first-degree subject. The results are presented as a written report known as a thesis or dissertation usually 70,000 –100,000 words.
- The most well-known research qualification is the PhD which usually lasts 3/4 years. There are a number of ways a PhD can be funded which you will need to be familiar with if this is something you want to do.
- You can also apply for Research Assistantships - these are salaried posts that often offer the opportunity to study for a higher degree. There are also research opportunities outside universities such as the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships that work closely with industry.
Where to begin your search
There is no central admissions system that covers all taught and research study. How and when you apply depends on the institution; the following websites will help your search:
FindAMasters - This is a searchable database of masters degree programmes in the UK & Ireland
The Guardian - Courses with spare places to fill often advertise in the newspaper on a Tuesday
Postgraduate Fairs - A Postgraduate Study Fair is held in Central Manchester usually in November, this fair has stands from many universities offering taught postgraduate courses.
Graduate Prospects - Detailed information on postgraduate opportunities available, including an online database to search for relevant openings can be found on the Graduate Prospects website. You can also view the latest advertised courses and research opportunities offered by Higher Education institutions
jobs.ac.uk - This website is used by the research, science, academic and related professions to advertise research and studentships opportunities
Find A PhD - This offers large database of postgraduate research degrees and PhD studentships
Newspapers - Research posts and Research Assistantships are advertised throughout the year in the educational press such as The Guardian (on a Tuesday) and The Times Higher Education Supplement. Relevant specialist magazines in your field of interest are also worth checking - for example, the New Scientist. Sometimes departments offer Graduate Teaching and Research Assistantships where fees are paid in return for undertaking teaching or research duties. The University of Salford advertises vacancies for Graduate Teaching Assistantships.
Steps to Postgraduate Study - a new web-site (2015) providing information and tools to help decision-making about which postgraduate taught (PGT) course to study.
Target Postgrad: AGCAS in association with TargetPostgrad have produced a series of information on postgraduate study:
Why do postgraduate study:
Choosing a masters:
- What can I do with my masters
- Example interview questions
- Postgrad application timetable
- All available on this landing page:http://targetpostgrad.com/content/choosing-a-masters
Choosing a PhD:
- Academic jobs:
- Jobs outside academia:
- Research and professional training:
- All available on this landing page:http://targetpostgrad.com/content/find-a-phd
If you are thinking of Postgraduate Study, visit our pages on Postgraduate Funding.
Thinking of further study abroad? Visit our Postgraduate Study Abroad pages for further information
Making a postgraduate application
Most postgraduate applications will require a personal statement, and for research postgraduate courses, a research proposal. You may also need to provide copies of certificates/transcripts of previous qualifications.
Always follow instructions you are given and tailor your application carefully. Typically you will be asked to cover:
Reasons for wanting to do course and attend specific university
Relevance of your previous studies
Relevant skills and experience gained from outside of your studies
My Postgrad Apps is an online system which can help you especially if applying for more than one course.
A guide to writing a research proposal – produced by Salford Business School but relevant to other areas too.
Updated 9th December 2015 (HB)