Careers and Employability Service

Further Study

Postgraduate study

Postgraduate study (also known as further study) is studying towards a master’s or doctoral degree, or a postgraduate diploma or certificate, after having obtained a bachelor's degree. This may be taught or through research.

Master’s degrees

  • M.Phil (Master of Philosophy)
  • MA (Master of Arts)
  • M.Litt (Master of Letters)
  • MSc. (Master of Science)
  • LLM (Master of Laws)
  • M.Psych (Master of Psychology)
  • MBA (Master of Business Administration)

Taught courses follow a similar structure to undergraduate degrees, usually over one year of full-time study or two years part-time. During the academic year, you will follow a programme involving seminars, lectures, coursework and exams. Over the summer vacation, you complete a dissertation or research project and the degree is awarded on satisfactory completion of all these elements.
Master’s degrees by research involve the sustained, rigorous, critical and systematic investigation of a defined subject over a period of at least one year. You will work independently to prepare a thesis under the guidance of a supervisor and are likely to receive training in research skills. You will normally be required to take a viva (oral examination) on your thesis before your degree is awarded.
Many students begin a research master’s degree with the aim of upgrading it to a PhD after the first year of study.

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

This is the highest level of academic qualification and the title of PhD is used across the full range of academic subjects. It involves an extended period (at least 3 years) of supervised research resulting in a thesis which forms an addition to knowledge, shows evidence of systematic study and of ability to relate the results of such study to the general body of knowledge in the subject and is worthy of publication. It is more demanding than a master’s by research, not only in its length but also in that your research must be original and add something new to the existing knowledge on that subject.

Again, you will work independently to prepare a thesis under the guidance of a supervisor and will normally be required to take a viva. Your choice of supervisor is crucial – it is important to choose someone who not only has the necessary expertise in the subject but who will be committed to supporting your research and who you feel that you will get on well with. Once your PhD has been awarded you are entitled to use the title of “Dr”.

PhD vlogs: Get a real insight into life as a PhD student

This September and October, have invited 5 PhD students at various stages of their PhD and locations to film themselves and share their videos. The vlogs, or video blogs, will cover everything from starting a PhD, moving abroad to do a PhD, finding funding opportunities to viva preparation and finding your first academic job.

Meet the vloggers and watch the videos here

Digital Identity Health Check for Academics. 

There are many benefits of having an online profile as an academic and this guide from Piirus will step you through what you can do to find out how to assess your current digital footprint and get tips for improving your digital identity.

Download the pdf here

Postgraduate diplomas and certificates

These are often vocational and include professional training, such as a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education, required to qualify as a teacher), or conversion courses such as the Graduate Diploma in Law. These courses usually last for one academic year of full-time study or two years part-time, and involve seminars, lectures, coursework and exams. You may have the opportunity to upgrade your diploma to a master’s degree by writing a dissertation after you have completed the taught course.


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Last Updated: 03/04/2019