Types of further study

Consider what type of course to pursue, think about your reasons, time commitments, method of study and funding opportunities.

The main types of further study include:

Masters courses

These typically involve a mixture of lectures, seminars, examinations, assessed coursework and a final project or dissertation. The course will last for 12 months if full time or two years part-time. Some of the taught masters courses include:

  • Master of Arts (MA)
  • Master of Science (MSc)
  • Master of Education (MEd)
  • Master of Engineering (MEng)
  • Master of Music (MMus)
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) requires relevant experience and offers an opportunity of training for future middle and higher management roles. It is quite unusual to progress onto this course straight from a degree.
  • Master of Research (MRes) is a standalone one year course that provides you with training in research methodologies and can be particularly useful if you intend to pursue a PhD.
Find out what you can do with a Masters degree with your Masters, what next? from Graduate Prospects.

Postgraduate Certificates and Diplomas

These are likely to last nine months (full-time) and are usually vocational, providing the necessary qualifications to get into a job e.g. Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) to get into school teaching.

Find out more about routes into teaching from the Department of Education Get into Teaching website and applying for PGCE courses from Graduate Prospects, or the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) if you are interested in a career in law. Find out more:

Professional qualifications

There are many, all relating to a particular profession, recognised and awarded by the relevant professional bodies. Gaining a professional qualification will give you an opportunity to progress in your career. The duration of these qualifications varies as they are often taken as distance learning or online courses while working full-time. The employer usually funds this training if it is considered professional development for you.

For example the National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ), professional marketing qualifications from the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Research degrees

A Masters by Research (MPhil), differently from an MRes, allows you to carry out independent research on a particular topic and is often seen as a precursor to a PhD.

Search for a masters programme both in the UK and overseas at Find A Masters.com.

Doctoral programmes (PhDs/DPhil)

Doctoral degrees involve carrying out an original research topic or laboratory project, usually related to your first degree, which can lead primarily onto a career in academia or research. Having developed their skills to a higher level, some PhD holders successfully seek opportunities within industry.

A PhD will take three to four years full-time to complete or you may be able to pursue your research through a part-time PhD which usually takes up to 6 years to complete. Studying for a PhD involves working independently, rather than attending a structured programme of lectures, on a project or topic of your choice and presenting your findings in a thesis or dissertation.


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