Progressing from undergraduate to postgraduate study

You may be graduating this summer or just curious what postgraduate study is and why you might want to advance your studies at Loughborough. You will also come across many people at different stages of their life returning to study. Whatever stage you are at, it's never too late to take your next steps.

Q: Why should I consider a master’s or PhD?

We get asked this question a lot and the answer is, it depends what you are hoping to gain from your life? Will further study help you get to where you need? With any investment, especially one that requires financial and time commitments, it needs to be the right decision for you. Unlike your undergraduate degree, at postgraduate level you can make unlimited applications directly to as many universities and courses as you like throughout the year without the pressure of applying immediately. As an education institution, we advocate for anyone that looks to further develop their knowledge and skills, and we have seen the positive impacts it has had on our postgraduate students and their careers.

Loughborough alumni discount

10% off master's tuition fees
20% off doctoral tuition fees

Government student loans available

Up to £11,836 master's loan
Up to £27,892 doctoral loan

Multiple scholarships available

Apply for department and university scholarships

Reasons people consider postgraduate study

We typically find the main reasons students come to Loughborough University to do their postgraduate qualifications are:

  • You loved your Loughborough undergraduate experience and want to stay on at the Loughborough campus.
  • Or be based in our dedicated postgraduate London campus to retain the excellent education but in a new location because 3 or 4 years in the same place calls for a new place to explore.
  • You're already in that academic mode and want to continue your studies straight after graduating, allowing you to specialise further.
  • You’ve entered the workplace and now feel like you want to gain more qualifications through part-time or full-time study
  • Your career aspirations have changed since studying your undergraduate degree and you want a change. There are opportunities to study something new to you at postgraduate level.
  • You want to work towards a higher accreditation to become qualified in your profession.

A few years after graduating and being in work, I was looking for a new challenge and to try something different. My master’s has allowed me to transfer the skills gained from my undergraduate degree and my job into a new, exciting area – allowing me to broaden my future career options

Jennifer Scott, MSc Environmental Research, Monitoring and Management

Differences in postgraduate study


1-2 years duration
Short period of study through taught modules and a final research project

3-6 years duration
Longer commitment to independent research on a specific topic

Time management is key – organise your time carefully and plan your schedule to effectively study and fit alongside other commitments Research must make a significant original contribution to current knowledge. Willingness and dedication to pursue your research
More independent self-directed learning – engage in wider range of materials for research and reading Almost totally independent with some training through taught sessions. Expected to be self-directed in their independent research
Be proactive in class, ask questions, speak up. Take a more active approach to your learning, engage with your tutors and classmates Be proactive in your research, use critical reasoning and problem-solve, improve your analytical skills. Ask for support when needed
Wider range of ages, national, cultural, educational and professional backgrounds so be open and willing to listen and learn Expected to work professionally as a team with colleagues in the department and industry partners. You’ll benefit from expert supervision
If you are changing subject, you may need to do more reading than classmates that have a relevant background or education As well as the thesis, you’ll undertake an exam as well as presenting your ideas at academic conferences, submit publications or teach
Designed to deepen career-oriented knowledge and skills Heavily research-based degree, designed to develop critical research to fill industry knowledge gaps

Masters or doctoral route?

There are different combinations and routes to entry:

Pre-requisiteNext stageNext stage
Bachelors degree (undergraduate) Master’s degree Doctoral degree
Bachelors degree (undergraduate) Doctoral degree  
Integrated Master’s (undergraduate) Doctoral degree  
Master’s degree Doctoral degree  
Alternative qualifications or relevant professional/voluntary work experience Master’s degree Doctoral degree
Alternative qualifications or relevant professional/voluntary work experience Doctoral degree  

Although you might not need to have completed a master’s before doing a doctoral degree, many choose to do a master’s qualification to help with the transition from undergraduate study. It enables you to get a year long taste of what research life could be like and help you decide whether to continue onto a PhD in the subject area.

Intake entry points

Most UK universities offer courses that start in September/October but some do offer multiple entry points in a year. Always check the degree details to find out the specific intakes for the course.

All master’s courses at Loughborough have start dates in October.

We have four entry points for our doctoral degrees – October, January, April and July. Do check the start dates before applying and when the deadline is for applying.

When to start researching your options

It’s never too early to start exploring your options, the more informed you are about postgraduate study and what it entails – from new knowledge or skills you can learn, how to fund your studies, living arrangements, how it will fit with your lifestyle – will help you make the right decision for you. This is our suggestion of things you might want to be thinking about but is not limited to just these:

1st year undergraduate student: light research if the career path you wish to follow requires further study beyond your bachelor’s degree to become qualified.

2nd year undergraduate student: start focusing in on what areas you enjoy and are interested in to see what are you might want to specialise in. Gain insight from tutors around the university in those subject areas who can advise you. Consider how you’ll fund your studies.

Final years: reach out to tutors to find out more information to help you understand if the course or university is right for you. Attend open days (virtual or physical) to get a feel for postgraduate study there. Speak to current students if you can. Make yourself aware of any deadlines for applying including the application itself as well as funding or accommodation.

Post graduation/in-work: similar to the guidance above, but you may also find it useful to review work policies regarding study leave if studying part-time, how you will adjust to being in an academic environment and how it will fit with your current lifestyle.

Find out more about postgraduate study

To stay up to date and learn more about our master's and PhD offering at both our Loughborough and London campus, and be the first to know when our postgraduate events will happen, sign up today.