Thinking of Further Study?

When considering further study, always think seriously about the reasons why you want to go on to postgraduate study:

Reasons for further study

  • You love your subject and want to study it in more detail
  • You want to improve your chances of getting a better job by adding to your academic record
  • You need to have higher level qualifications to enter a certain career
  • You are considering an academic/research career
  • You feel you need more time to decide on what career you would like to do. If this is the case, make sure you use the time well to research different careers, get some work experience and use tools available to you, such as the Employability Tutorial to recognise your strengths and skills.

Types of courses available

Research: these include PhD/DPhil courses which are generally three years, but can be longer, and Masters by research often called MPhil or MRes and leading to PhD. Some of these will include taught core modules/subjects.

Taught: these are usually 12 months full-time or two years part time and can be academic or vocational and include MA, MSc, MBS, LLM, etc.

Academic courses may build on your degree or involve studying a subject using an academic/theoretical approach.

Vocational courses offer the qualifications essential for entry to certain professions such as PGCE for teaching, MSc/MA Social work, GDL/LPC for law, Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, etc . These courses often include opportunities for practical experience.

Deciding on where to study

  • Entry requirements – qualifications and experience
  • Reputation of the institution, especially by the industry – see
  • Graduate destinations
  • Profile/content of the course
  • Links with the industry/work placement opportunities
  • Possibilities of funding
  • Opportunities to study abroad.

How to fund your study

This is often a stumbling block to a lot of students and tuition fees can vary according to the type of further study taken and the institution.

Here are some of the main ways to fund your further study:

  • Public funding bodies such as the Arts & Humanities Research Board, Biotechnology & Biological Sciences research Council, Economic & Social Research Council, Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council, Medical Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council, Science & Technology Facilities Council, etc
  • Institutional scholarships & awards:,, bursaries – support for students in financial need,,
  • Trusts, charities and foundations – read The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding by Luke Blaxhill (available for reference in the Careers Service Information room) or use the Directory of Grant Making Trusts
  • Employer sponsorship
  • Loans, e.g. Career Development Loans, Professional Trainee Loans.

Making your application

You can normally apply directly to universities for most courses. Some accept applications through UKPASS – a free online service run by UCAS. If you use Prospects to apply to an institution that accepts applications through UKPASS, your application will automatically be sent through UKPASS.

For some courses in specific subjects you may have to apply through a central applications organisation (eg PGCEs via the Graduate Teacher Training Registry – GTTR). Be sure to thoroughly research the application procedures for your chosen subject/course.

Useful resources