How do I apply?
You can apply to as many courses as you like. There is no set time by which you should apply for postgraduate research degrees although you are advised to apply early if scholarships and funding deadlines apply.
To apply for any full-time and part-time postgraduate taught courses you can also use the online system provided by the UK Postgraduate Application and Statistical Service (UKPASS). Maintained by UCAS, this service allows applicants to apply for up to ten courses.
When do I apply?
- Start researching possibilities and exploring postgraduate study as one of your options as early as your second year.
- Talk to your lecturers to find out about any institutions they might recommend.
- Contact possible supervisors whom your tutors have recommended, or you have identified while researching university websites, or during your open day visits to potential departments.
- Aim to apply 12 months before you want to start your course, but also be aware that studentships are advertised until much nearer the next academic year (September). If you make a late decision to pursue further study, it is advisable to contact the institutions directly.
- Check advertised opportunities on universities’ websites
- For some areas, you need to apply through a relevant central admissions service, most of which operate between October and January, such as:
Make sure you complete the following as part of the application process:
- an application form – each institution may have their own online application form.
- proof of degree and grades and other supporting information such as transcripts.
- personal statement – this is where you write in detail about your motivation for the course, your skills and experiences evidenced through academic achievements and other extra-curricular activities and work experience.
- Research proposal – if you are applying for a postgraduate PhD programme, you will need to submit a research proposal with your PhD application (a typical research proposal will be somewhere between 1,500 and 3,000 words). You will also need to provide references in support of your application.
Top tips on writing personal statements
Quick guide to...writing a personal statement (PDF - 219KB)
Each personal statement should be targeted to the institution and the course that you are applying to, to create a positive first impression, and the following advice should be considered only as guidelines:
- Motivation for choosing that particular course (enjoyed previous dissertation/project) and reasons for applying to that institution such as research based university, laboratory facilities, academic achievements, employability etc.
- Consider your academic experience and how it relates to the area you want to study or research, mention projects or modules relevant to the course.
- What skills and qualities have you developed from your non-academic experience (voluntary work, extra curriculum activities) that will help you with your further studies.
- Give examples that demonstrate your commitment to research, teamwork, independent thinking and time management.
- Close your personal statement in a positive tone clarifying your career goals and showing commitment to achieve your goals.
- Keep the information relevant, the language clear and show a genuine interest in the subject.
If you are required to submit a CV and covering letter as part of the application process, you can find out more information and tips from our CV pages. Alternatively, you can book an appointment with an Application Adviser to receive constructive feedback on your application for further study. We also run workshops on writing personal statements for further study.
More top tips on writing a successful postgraduate application
Check out the following websites and resources for more top tips on writing a successful postgraduate application:
• Write a winning application for your postgraduate course
• Applications and CVs for postgraduate study (PDF - 747KB)
Top tips on preparing for interviews
For most Masters courses you will be offered a place based on your application and degree classification. For a PhD place, however, you will be invited to a formal or informal interview with your future supervisor/s. It’s important that you prepare well for your interview. Careers Network can offer you a practice interview to boost your confidence.
The following tips will help you prepare and manage the interview successfully:
- Prepare well - research the course and institution, read about the supervisor’s profile, and the research specification if applying for an advertised PhD.
- Arrive on time - but not too early. 10-15 minutes before your interview is about right. If you are unavoidably delayed, let them know.
- Try to keep calm - you are bound to feel nervous but calming yourself down beforehand will be an advantage in the interview. Breathing exercises, for example, can help keep you calm.
- Be friendly and polite - behave the same with everyone you meet; they may be asked for their impressions of you.
- Be professional - greet the interviewer in a confident, professional and friendly manner.
- Answer questions with a positive tone of voice.
- Be aware of your body language - you are aiming for formal but relaxed, and showing that you are attentive and listening.
- Be yourself - while bearing in mind all of the above, it’s still really important to let your personality come across. Show your motivation for the course and awareness of career direction.
Top tips sessions
Our innovative ‘Top Tip’ sessions delivered by our Student Peer Presenter Team are designed to give you the confidence and tools to make your way successfully through the application and selection process. Come along to a Top Tips session on campus or alternatively view our workshops online.
Videos (left to right): "Top tips for sourcing funding for further study" and "Apply yourself: Top tips for applying for a Masters"