Considering Further Study
Postgraduate study can offer you a route into a new career, speed up your progress in your current job with professional qualifications – or be an essential component in qualifying to practise. Postgraduate qualifications tend to be divided into taught courses and research degrees and studentships.
- These include Masters courses, postgraduate diplomas/certificates, other specialist courses and a wide range of professional qualifications.
- Conversion Courses are taught courses and take one academic year, these are short vocationally orientated qualifications designed to enable graduates of one discipline to acquire skills and training in a different discipline. Examples include conversion courses in computing/ information technology for graduates without a first degree in this area.
- Research involves the in-depth study of a specific field, usually related to your first-degree subject. The results are presented as a written report known as a thesis or dissertation usually 70,000 –100,000 words.
- The most well-known research qualification is the PhD which usually lasts 3/4 years. There are a number of ways a PhD can be funded which you will need to be familiar with if this is something you want to do.
- You can also apply for Research Assistantships - these are salaried posts that often offer the opportunity to study for a higher degree. There are also research opportunities outside universities such as the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships that work closely with industry.
Where to begin your search
- University of Salford: Postgraduate Study
- FindAMasters - This is a searchable database of masters degree programmes in the UK & Ireland
- The Guardian - Courses with spare places to fill often advertise in the newspaper on a Tuesday
- Postgraduate Fairs - A Postgraduate Study Fair is held in Central Manchester usually in November, this fair has stands from many universities offering taught postgraduate courses.
- jobs.ac.uk - This website is used by the research, science, academic and related professions to advertise research and studentships opportunities
- Find A PhD - This offers large database of postgraduate research degrees and PhD studentships
- Newspapers - Research posts and Research Assistantships are advertised throughout the year in the educational press such as The Guardian (on a Tuesday) and The Times Higher Education Supplement. Relevant specialist magazines in your field of interest are also worth checking - for example, the New Scientist. Sometimes departments offer Graduate Teaching and Research Assistantships where fees are paid in return for undertaking teaching or research duties. The University of Salford advertises vacancies for Graduate Teaching Assistantships.
- Steps to Postgraduate Study - a new website (2015) providing information and tools to help decision-making about which postgraduate taught (PGT) course to study.
Making a postgraduate application
Most postgraduate applications will require a personal statement, and for research postgraduate courses, a research proposal. You may also need to provide copies of certificates/transcripts of previous qualifications.
Always follow instructions you are given and tailor your application carefully. Typically you will be asked to cover:
- Reasons for wanting to do course and attend specific university
- Relevance of your previous studies
- Career aspirations
- Relevant skills and experience gained from outside of your studies
My Postgrad Apps is an online system which can help you especially if applying for more than one course.
Funding your further study
It is often much easier to obtain the offer of a place to undertake a postgraduate course than it is to get the money to finance it. Details of fees for a particular course will usually be found in the postgraduate prospectus from an institution.
There may be decisions you want to make - for example, whether to study full or part-time where you will need to weigh up considerations over issues such as Council Tax liability, that may vary according to your status. In such cases you should check with on our Money pages for the most up-to-date information.
With the exception of teacher training there are no mandatory awards from the Local Education Authorities (LEAs). The Student Loans Company doesn't cater for postgraduates and so many students are entirely self-funded. The majority of postgraduate students get money from a range of sources, for example, money from bursaries, part-time jobs, charitable trusts, private savings and loans.
Funding your further study
Sources of information on funding
- UK Government Postgraduate Loans Scheme: Loans available for taught and research masters. Loan scheme starts 2016/17
- FindAMasters.com offer an annual £5,000 Masters scholarship plus a number of smaller awards in any subject.
- FindAPhD.com offer an annual £5,000 PhD scholarship plus a number of smaller awards in any subject.
- FindAMasters Funding Guide - this simple guide explain how different funding options work, what their eligibility criteria are and how to apply for them.
- FindAPhD Funding Guide - A summary of the main sources of PhD funding.
- FindAMasters Postgraduate Funding Country Guides: Website packed with information regarding funding in different countries including the UK.
- Funding for International Students in the UK - This FindAMasters page explains the kinds of funding available for international Masters students in the UK: from postgraduate loans to Government scholarships and overseas exchange programmes.
- International PhD Funding in the UK - This FindAPhD page explains how PhD funding works in the UK and has details of scholarships and studentships.
- The Graduate Prospects Website provides a useful summary of all the main sources of potential funding for further study and allows you to search for sources of funding. Graduate Prospects now also produce a vidcast with key advice for students on funding postgraduate study.
- The Grants Register, published by Palgrave. A copy is usually available for reference in most public libraries and there is a copy in the University of Salford Library.
- Scholarship Search UK - This searchable database lets you search for university departments that are currently offering scholarships, bursaries and awards.
- Turn2us is another free online searchable facility of funding sources.
- Prospects Postgraduate Study Guide: includes information on funding FREE copies available in the Careers library.
- PostgraduateStudentships provides students with listings of the latest general and charity funding available for Masters and PhD Study
Public funding: Research Councils
The most important sources of funding for postgraduate students in the UK are the Research Councils. These bodies are government-funded agencies engaged in the support of research in different disciplines. The Research Councils do not generally make studentship awards directly to students, but usually allocate them to departments in universities.
- Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) - The Arts and Humanities Research Council supports research ranging from traditional humanities subjects, such as history, modern languages and English literature, to the creative and performing arts
- Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) - Covers academic research and training in the non-medical life sciences
- Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) - Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's leading research funding and training agency addressing economic and social concerns
- Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) - The funding agency for research and training in engineering and the physical sciences
- Medical Research Council (MRC) - Promotes research into all areas of medical and related science with the aims of improving the health and quality of life of the UK public and contributing to the wealth of the nation
- Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) - Covers research in earth observation, earth sciences, freshwater sciences, marine, atmospheric and terrestrial sciences
- Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) - Covers particle physics, astronomy, particle astrophysics, solar and planetary science.
Institutional Scholarships and Awards
- Most universities operate their own scholarship and award schemes. These vary considerably from full-fee studentships to smaller bursaries to help financial hardship.
- Sometimes departments offer Graduate Teaching and Research Assistantships where fees are paid in return for undertaking teaching or research duties. Such opportunities are often advertised in newspapers such as The Guardian (on a Tuesday) and The Times Higher Education Supplement.
- Sometimes companies sponsor postgraduate students through the institution. Such opportunities are often advertised in newspapers such as The Guardian (on a Tuesday) and The Times Higher Education Supplement but they may also be run on an ongoing basis with a particular institution. Sometimes departments offer Graduate Teaching and Research Assistantships where fees are paid in return for undertaking teaching or research duties. The University of Salford advertises vacancies for Graduate Teaching Assistantships. Information about bursaries at Salford generally can be found on our Money pages.
- MastersCompare - Masters Scholarship worth £5,000 for the academic year. More information can be found at: www.masterscompare.co.uk/PGscholarship
Charities, foundations and trusts
Some trusts, charities and foundations award partial funding for postgraduate study. The types of scheme available include studentships, scholarships, grants, bursaries, competitions and prizes.
Many postgraduates study part-time, which means that they have the opportunity to hold down a part-time or even a full-time job at the same time.
Professional Loan Schemes
If you’re training for a professional qualification in, for example, law, dentistry or medicine, most banks offer some sort of professional studies loan scheme.
For example, NatWest offers the Professional Trainee Loan Scheme, Barclays currently offers a Professional Studies Loan and the Royal Bank of Scotland also run loan schemes specifically for law students and students studying medicine, dentistry, veterinary, chiropractic and osteopathy on a full-time basis.
There are also a variety of other loans for specific courses:
- Association of MBAs Loan Scheme -Students on MBA (Masters in Business Administration) programmes accredited by The Association of MBAs (AMBA) are eligible for The Association of MBAs Loan Scheme, which is designed to help students paying their own fees or part-fees
- The College of Law Loan Scheme - This loan is available to students who are studying at one of the College of Law’s colleges (London, Chester, Manchester, Guildford or York) for one of the following qualifications: Common Professional Examination (CPE), Legal Practice Course (LPC) or Bar Vocational Course (BVC). Application for a loan can be made from the beginning of your course, whether you are studying full-time or part-time. NatWest offers this scheme. Ask at your bank for information on any similar schemes
- Teacher Training - For information on funding for Teacher Training, look at the Training and Development Agency for Schools website