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Postgraduate Study

Postgraduate study is a popular option for graduates. The most recent data tells us 14% of Loughborough graduates went straight on to further study. In 2019/20 there were 384,000 postgraduate taught students and 34,000 postgraduate research students in the UK. Whether you’re thinking of studying in the UK or abroad you’ll need to plan well in advance, assessing the suitability of each course and researching application procedures and deadlines.

How to fund your study will be a consideration and you will need to allow time to investigate scholarships, awards, loans and other sources of finance; many of which will have specific eligibility criteria and early deadlines. Studentships might be fully-funded, part-funded or you may need to self-fund your studies.  Each university will have details on their website about funding for postgraduate study.

For further information, current Loughborough students can view Exploring Postgraduate Study on Learn module CA007.

Postgraduate Study Abroad

Finding a suitable postgraduate course abroad may be tricky and will therefore take more time. There are a number of websites which provide general information on study abroad and cover options in different countries. Others will enable you to search for a course in a particular country. If at first you don't find what you are looking for, don't give up. Persevere through the websites and ultimately contact with individual institutions should provide you with the information you need.

TARGETpostgrad, in partnership with AGCAS (Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services) answer your questions about postgraduate study abroad and point you in the direction of useful sources of information on living and studying in specific countries. Find information on qualification names, language requirements, exchange programme options, fees and international scholarships, how to apply for postgraduate study abroad, and study visa basics.

Types of postgraduate course

Firstly consider your motivations carefully and research the different types of course.

Taught Programmes

To find out about Masters courses available to you within the UK, visit Coursefindr

Research Programmes

MRes, or Research Masters: The MRes is a Masters degree that emphasises independent study over taught instruction. You will still complete some taught units on an MRes but you will be focusing mainly on your own research project. Effectively it’s a self-contained research training qualification that can prepare you for a PhD. Usually takes 1-2 years full time, longer part time.

MPhil or ‘Master of Philosophy’ is a pure research degree. Instead of completing taught units and assessments, an MPhil consists entirely of your own independent project. An MPhil can be part of a PhD or a step towards PhD registration, but you can also study it as a standalone qualification.

Doctorate, there are 5 ways to gain a Doctorate:

  • Standard PhD (doctorate by thesis): 3-4 years full-time or 5-6 years part-time. 
  • Integrated PhD, also known as the ‘new route PhD involves studying a one-year research Masters degree (MRes) before progressing onto a three-year PhD.
  • Professional Doctorate: geared primarily towards current professionals in vocational sectors such as healthcareteaching and education (EdD), and engineering (EngD), this type of Doctorate includes a significant taught component - and, therefore, a smaller research project. Typically takes 2-8 years. Note: Unlike many professional Doctorates, the EngD is typically offered as a full-time course and is aimed at young engineering graduates with little or no professional experience.
  • PhD by publication: often taken by mid-career academics who have not had the opportunity to undertake a standard Doctorate degree.
  • Distance Learning PhD.

For actions and tips to help make an informed decision, visit Should I Do A Phd (and download the booklet).

Search for PhDs on or on individual University websites, for example, Loughborough University Doctoral College

Reasons for choosing postgraduate study

Further study will help you to do one or more of the following:

  • Continue with your first degree subject in more depth or in a specialised area.
  • ‘Convert' your first degree to something completely different.
  • Achieve a professional qualification needed to pursue your chosen career (e.g. law, teaching, social work, librarianship or clinical psychology).
  • Develop your research skills.
  • Experience life at another university, either in the UK or abroad.

Advantages of postgraduate study

The benefits of postgraduate study include:

  • Providing you with specific vocational or technical skills and expert knowledge.
  • Opportunities to work on projects with experts outside the university environment.
  • Impressing employers in industry sectors where postgraduate study is recognised.
  • Providing you with a wide range of contacts that could be helpful in the future.
  • Complementing relevant work experience.
  • Occasionally attracting a higher starting salary.

Disadvantages of postgraduate study

  • It won't necessarily help you decide on a career.
  • Not all employers regard it as a bonus.
  • You could become ‘over-qualified' for some jobs.
  • It does not necessarily compensate for a poor first degree.
  • Relevant work experience might still be necessary.
  • High course fees and living expenses can add to debts you may already have.

Choosing the right course - Checklist

To help you choose the right course for you, it might be helpful to think about:

  • the type of course you would like to study.
  • what you hope the course might lead to and how it fits in with your career plans – check out what others have done after the course.
  • entry requirements
  • availability of funding and your own financial circumstances.
  • reputation of the institution or department.
  • course structure and teaching and assessment methods.
  • academic facilities and support services available.
  • location and travel considerations.
  • which courses other graduates from your course have chosen – search the Loughborough University destinations database via Where do our graduates go?

Other routes to further qualifications

  • Short and part-time professional and vocational qualifications. These are available at further education colleges, private colleges, online and by distance learning. For more information about courses across the UK visit The National Careers Service. To find out about opportunities to study in your local area visit the online prospectus for the relevant institution or centre.
  • Undertake further qualifications whilst working. This can happen either as part of a graduate training programme (e.g. accountancy qualifications) or as part of an individual agreement where your employer releases you to undertake a job-related course (e.g. certificate or diploma in human resources accredited by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development.) Some graduates also enrol for part-time courses, at their own expense, to enhance their career prospects.
  • Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is a scheme which involves graduates working in companies on strategic business and product development projects. These projects are jointly supervised by the business and university and you get the opportunity to register for further qualifications while working.

Useful study abroad general websites

General sites

  • Accredited Online Colleges -
  • Association of Commonwealth Universities -
  • International Education Site - - guide to study abroad information, advice and opportunities for students worldwide who are considering studying overseas. Including university advice, college search facilities, student profiles, and articles from the leading journals on international education.
  • Prospects - - comprehensive coverage of over 50 countries.
  • STUDYlink - - information on undergraduate, postgraduate and MBA study in a range of countries - contains course databases, advice and discussion forums.
  • Studee - - information on courses and institutions for study in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

Useful study abroad country specific websites

Country-specific sites

  • American Universities -
  • Canadian Bureau for International Education -
  • Central and Eastern European Education Directory - - details of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes offered in academic establishments in Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and the CIS.
  • Eurydice - is a network whose task is to explain how education systems are organised in Europe and how they work. 
  • Fulbright Commission - - advice and support for anyone wishing to study in the USA.
  • German Academic Exchange Service - - Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) provides information on study and research in Germany, including a directory of courses.
  • GMAT - - The Graduate Management Admissions Test (for study in the US).
  • - details of postgraduate schools in the USA and elsewhere.
  • Gradsource - - searchable database of graduate courses in the US.
  • Petersons Education Centre - - information and advice on study in the USA.
  • Princeton Review - - helps target the best schools for you.
  • Study in the USA - - details of postgraduate courses in the US.
  • Study Options - provide expert advice to students on all forms of university study in Australia and New Zealand