Find out your options if you're considering further study.
A world of opportunity
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. Degree apprenticeships are another option to consider for further study, if combining full time work and study is attractive to you.
Taught courses - PGT
Postgraduate qualifications that do not contain research elements are classed as postgraduate taught (PGT) courses. These can include:
Masters degrees are level 7 qualifications that advance your studies in a particular subject area. The format is similar to an undergraduate degree and usually take 1-2 years to complete full time or 2-4 years part-time. Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MSc) degrees are the most popular type of Masters course, however there are many other types you can study:
- LLM (Master of Laws)
- MEng (Master of Engineering)
- MEd (Master of Education
- MArch (Master of Architecture)
- MBA (Master of Business Administration)
- MPhil (Master of Philosophy)
- MRes (Master of Research) This is unique to the 'taught' courses since it does place more emphasis on research rather than developing knowledge within a subject area. There are taught modules within the MRes therefore it can still be classed a taught course.
Postgraduate certificates and diplomas
Postgraduate Certificates (PGCerts) and Postgraduate Diplomas (PGDips) are level 7 qualifications, like Masters degrees, but they take less time to study since they hold less credits and they do not have a dissertation element. You can study most subjects as a PGCert or PGDip and check with individual institutions if you want to 'top up' to a Masters – most will allow you to write a dissertation after the PGDip to achieve a full Masters.
Conversion courses prepare you for a professional career that your undergraduate perhaps has not. Most conversion courses are Masters level but rather than include a dissertation, focus falls on practical training. If you feel you have studied a subject that doesn't lead into a specific career path, a conversion course may help you to do that. Popular conversion courses are:
Initial Teacher Training
QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) is required to become a teacher within the UK and there are postgraduate qualifications to provide this. A popular route is the PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education) which is led by schools and/or universities. There are many routes into teaching, not all are postgraduate level qualifications so it is important to research the right route for you - take a look at Routes into teaching on the Prospects website.
Professional qualifications are vocational courses and are typically an entry route into a specific job, or are used as professional development once in a job. They are awarded by professional associations and are evidence that you have met the minimum required standards to perform as expected within the profession. Popular professional qualifications awarded by professional associations include ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors).
Research degrees - PGR
Postgraduate research qualifications that contain original academic research to advance you in a specific field are classed as postgraduate research (PGR) courses:
- 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.
Traditionally, apprenticeships were aimed at school leavers to combine study and full-time work as a training route into a profession after secondary school education. Nowadays, there are various levels of apprenticeship that people from all levels of education can consider:
- Intermediate apprenticeships – equivalent to GCSE level education
- Advanced apprenticeships – equivalent to A Level education
- Higher apprenticeships – equivalent to foundation degree level education
- Degree apprenticeships – equivalent to degree or masters degree level education
Apprenticeships are, for some, an attractive way to change career direction since you can study towards a qualification and gain work experience without the costs attached to it that qualifications normally have. The employers who provide apprenticeships, cover the costs for the study side of the apprenticeship and you receive a salary for the working element of the programme. Do your research into what salary you will receive as rates will differ dependent on the provider of the apprenticeship. Lower salaries are expected on apprenticeships due to the other costs associated with apprenticeships already being covered by the employer.
When you hold a degree already, you can still consider a degree apprenticeship, however, it must be in an unrelated subject.
Degree apprenticeships are offered within vocational subjects such as engineering, nursing, social work and management. Find more information on degree apprenticeships, such as the subject areas where they are offered, on the Prospects website and UCAS.com.
Masters degree apprenticeships are becoming more popular for further study and work, following an undergraduate degree. They are still being developed by employers, universities and professional associations, therefore there are a lower number available in comparison to degree apprenticeships. Find more information on Masters apprenticeships on the Prospects website.
Here at the University of Salford, we offer level 6 and 7 apprenticeships. To find out more, visit our Degree apprenticeships section.
Choosing a postgraduate course
Understanding what subject area you want to study, the length of time you wish to study, and if you want to study a taught or research based course will be a good starting point to choosing the right course for you. Other questions to ask yourself would be surrounding your career aims and what you wish to achieve by studying at this level.
You can then use the following websites to start your search:
- University of Salford: Postgraduate Study
- FindAMasters - A searchable database of Masters degree programmes in the UK & Ireland
- Postgraduate study | Prospects.ac.uk - Detailed information on postgraduate opportunities available, including an online database to search for relevant openings
- Jobs | Job Search | Job Vacancies on jobs.ac.uk - Used by the research, science, academic and related professions to advertise research and studentships opportunities
- Find A PhD - A 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 and The Times Higher Education Supplement. Relevant specialist magazines in your field of interest are also worth checking - for example, the New Scientist
- Steps to Postgraduate Study - Provides information and tools to help decision-making about what postgraduate taught course to study
- Degree Apprenticeships (Level 6 & 7) | Find Apprenticeships – Search for level 6 and level 7 apprenticeships
- Degree apprenticeships | ucas.com
Make a postgraduate application
Most postgraduate applications will be made directly to the institution itself however some courses may require you to apply via UCAS. It is important to check the application guidelines and information on the individual institution pages that you are interested in to find out where and how to apply.
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.
There are many resources available to help you with making postgraduate applications:
- Masters Applications: Applying for a Masters degree | Prospects.ac.uk
- PhD research proposals: How to write a successful research proposal | Prospects.ac.uk
- Apprenticeships: Degree apprenticeships: How to apply for an apprenticeship | Prospects.ac.uk
Funding postgraduate study
Funding for postgraduate study is available in various forms – loans, studentships, bursaries and grants, and some employers may assist you in funding a qualification if it has benefit to their business. Exploring and understanding the different sources of funding is therefore vital to ensure you are finding the best option for you.
The process to apply for a postgraduate loan is very similar to the undergraduate student loan, however there are differences once you have secured the loan. Researching this as well as your chosen course and qualification is advisable.
Details of fees for a particular course will usually be found on the course information pages of 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 on our Money pages for the most up-to-date information.
Sources of information on funding
- Funding for postgraduate study - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) – These government pages provide an overview of the funding available through Student Finance England.
- Postgraduate Scholarships - A Guide for 2021 (findamasters.com) – This FindAMasters page details a variety of scholarships, grants and bursaries available through universities, government funded bodies and charities.
- A Simple Introduction to PhD Funding | FindAPhD.com< - This FindAPhD page provides a useful overview to funding a PhD.
- Get Into Teaching: Funding your training (education.gov.uk) – The Get into Teaching website provides details of the funding you are eligible for when teacher training.
- International PhD Funding in the UK - This FindAPhD page explains how PhD funding works in the UK and has details of scholarships and studentships.
- 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. They 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.
- Postgraduate Funding | Scholarships and Student Bursaries (postgraduatesearch.com) - This searchable database lets you search for university departments that are currently offering scholarships, bursaries and awards.
- Fighting UK Poverty - Turn2us - A free online searchable facility of funding sources.
- PostgraduateStudentships - Provides students with listings of the latest general and charity funding available for Masters and PhD Study
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. Search on individual institution websites for information. Applications will have a deadline connected to them.
- Graduate Teaching and Research Assistantships where fees are paid in return for undertaking teaching or research duties are sometimes offered. Opportunities are often advertised in newspapers such as The Times Higher Education Supplement and The Guardian (on a Tuesday). Information about bursaries at Salford generally can be found on our Money pages.
- Companies can choose to sponsor postgraduate students through an institution. Such opportunities are often advertised in newspapers such as The Times Higher Education Supplement and The Guardian (on a Tuesday) but they may also be run on an ongoing basis with a particular institution.
- Masterscompare - Masters Scholarship worth £5,000 for the academic year. More information can be found at: £5000 Masters Compare Scholarship | Postgraduate Scholarship UK
Professional Loan Schemes
If you're training for a professional qualification in, for example, law, dentistry or medicine, banks can offer professional or career development loan schemes. There is guidance offered by Save the Student: Professional and Career Development Loans guide - Save the Student.
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.
You can listen to our Postgraduate Options and Funding Explained Linked In Learning Pathway for more information.
For specific research queries and support, contact your school's Postgraduate Research Office:
- Arts and Media: PGR-SupportSAM@salford.ac.uk
- Salford Business School: PGR-SupportSBS@salford.ac.uk
- Science, Engineering and Environment: PGR-SupportSSEE@salford.ac.uk
- Health and Society: PGR-SupportSHAS@salford.ac.uk
Speak to a careers adviser
Our Careers Advisers are on hand to help. Book an appointment on Advantage or by calling 0161 295 0023 (option 5).
Appointments are available for current students and graduates of the University of Salford only.