Further Study

An increasing number of students consider postgraduate or further study as an option. When you are thinking about what to do next, why not look in to what you could gain by undertaking further study? Students choose this option for many different reasons:

  • To develop specialist expertise in an aspect of your first degree subject
  • To change direction into a new subject area and develop some new skills
  • To enter a profession such as teaching, social work or law for which a postgraduate course is essential
  • To enhance 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 indepth 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 considering postgraduate study it is essential to think about the type of course that you would like to study. In general terms, there are three main types of courses:

  • Taught courses - leading to the award of Diplomas, Certificates or a Masters degree, such as a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MSc).  The course will include modules on specific topics; you will study at University taking part in seminars, tutorials and lectures.  Courses are one to two years full time (two to three years part time).
  • Research degrees – leading to the award of Masters degree or Doctorates (PhD).  The course involves the in-depth study of a specific field under the supervision of an experienced academic.  PhD Courses are three to four years full time (five to six years part time).  Masters programmes by research (MA, MSc, MPhil, MRes) are one to two years full time (two to four years part time). 
  • Professional courses – leading to a qualification in a specific careers area; examples include accountancy, law and teaching.

Finding courses

There are wide ranges of courses available and this can seem overwhelming. To make your choice, you should think carefully about the following:

  • What do you hope to gain from your 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 do not have set closing dates, with the exception of 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 you need to look at each course and institution’s application process as these do vary. Most will require an application form sent directly to the institution. You will be asked to outline your personal details and suitability for the course.

We have 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 have also put together a guide to getting into medical school if you are thinking about this route.

If you would like one-to-one feedback and advice on your application, you can make an appointment with a careers adviser.


Postgraduate fees and the funding options available will depend on your course choice. The UK government provides loans for postgraduate study. You can also research the bursaries and scholarships available. Find out about funding your studies from:

Studying abroad

If you are thinking of studying abroad you will need to plan well in advance. Studying in another country is an exciting prospect. To make the experience worthwhile you need to make the right choice.

  • Start with some background research - Prospects provides a study abroad checklist to help you plan. 
  • Think about where you would like to study - you can find out information on specific countries by using the country specific information on the Prospects website. 
  • Do your research – what is the culture or education like in that country? What entrance qualifications do you need? Will the qualification you gain be recognised back in the UK?
  • Do you have the language skills to succeed with overseas study or would you need to consider English-speaking universities only?

You want to make sure that undertaking postgraduate study, either 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.