An increasing number of students consider postgraduate or further study as an option. When you're thinking about what to do next, look into how you can benefit from further study. Students choose further study for different reasons:
- To develop specialist expertise in an aspect of your first degree subject
- To change direction into a new subject area and develop new skills
- To enter a profession such as teaching, social work or law for which a postgraduate course is essential
- To improve your employment prospects in areas where specialist knowledge is needed
This section provides initial information on finding courses, making applications and possible sources of funding. You can find more in depth information and advice at TargetPostgrad.
If you would like to talk through your plans or get feedback on your applications, talk to our team at the Careers and Employability Service.
Types of courses
When thinking about postgraduate study, think about the type of course you'd like to study. There are 3 main types of courses:
Taught courses lead to the award of Diplomas, Certificates or a Masters degree, such as a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MSc). The course includes modules on specific topics. You'll study at University taking part in seminars, tutorials and lectures. Courses are 1 to 2 years full time (2 to 3 years part time).
Research degrees lead to the award of Masters degree or Doctorates (PhD). The course involves in-depth study of a specific field under supervision of an experienced academic. PhD courses are 3 to 4 years full time (5 to 6 years part time). Masters programmes by research (MA, MSc, MPhil, MRes) are 1 to 2 years full time (2 to 4 years part time).
Professional courses lead to a qualification in a specific careers area. Examples include accountancy, law and teaching.
There are many courses available and this can seem overwhelming. To make your choice, think carefully about the following:
- What do you hope to gain from further study?
- What are you interested in?
- Does the course attract funding?
- What are your options for when you finish the further study?
- Where, geographically, would you like to study?
You can search for postgraduate courses online using the following sites:
Applying for courses
Most postgraduate courses don't have set closing dates, except some vocational areas such as teaching, medicine and law. Competition for places on popular courses can be high so apply as early in your final year of study as you can.
To find out how to apply, look at each course and institution’s application process as they vary. Most ask for an application form sent directly to the institution. You'll be asked to outline your personal details and suitability for the course.
We've provided additional information to help you write a personal statement for postgraduate study. For those considering a PhD we have provided information and advice on applying for a PhD, you can also find a range of articles on studying for a PhD at Postgrad.com. If you are applying for teacher training read our Teaching Career guide. We've also put together a guide to getting into medical school if you are thinking about this route.
If you would like 1-to-1 feedback and advice on your application, make an appointment with a careers adviser.
Funding further study
Postgraduate fees and the funding options available depend on your course choice. The UK government gives loans for postgraduate study. You can research the bursaries and scholarships available. Find out about funding your studies from:
- Funding for postgraduate study - the UK Government's guide to sources of funding including postgraduate loans
- University of Portsmouth - Postgraduate fees and funding
- Prospects - a guide to scholarships, grants, and postgraduate loans
- Postgraduate funding - search small grants for postgraduate study
- PhD loans - latest details on the new UK PhD loans
If you're thinking of studying abroad you'll need to plan in advance. Studying in another country is an exciting prospect. To make the experience worthwhile you want to make the right choice.
- Start with some background research – Prospects provides a study abroad checklist to help you plan
- Think about where you'd like to study – find information on specific countries using the country specific information on the Prospects website
- Do your research – what's the culture or education like in that country? What entrance qualifications do you need? Will the qualification you gain be recognised in the UK?
- Do you have the language skills to succeed with overseas study or would you need to consider English-speaking universities only?
Make sure that doing postgraduate study in the UK or globally will be the right decision for you. Our team of careers advisers can discuss the options with you so find out how to make an appointment.