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Further Study

Why do postgraduate study?

There are various reasons for wanting to do postgraduate (or other further) study including: 

  • The course might be compulsory for entry to your chosen career
  • The potential for improving your chances in a competitive career area or job market
  • Providing "currency" in some jobs, e.g. scientific research and development and enhancing your future Career development
  • Your interest in the subject
  • The time to consider your career plans and options
  • Time for the job market to improve for graduates
  • The opportunity to develop and enhance various career-relevant skills

These may all be perfectly valid reasons but it’s definitely worth spending time thinking about whether postgraduate study is for you - consider your reasons in the light of the course options in your chosen area. When choosing a course make sure it’s for the right reasons and not just in the absence of any better ideas or because everyone else is doing the same.

As with any other option – do the research! When investigating courses consider the following:

  • What does the course cover and how is it organised (courses in the same subject area can vary in terms of approach, content etc)
  • If vocationally-oriented does it involve work experience or other ‘practical’ aspects?
  • Do you want to stay at Queen’s or are you interested in other institutions?
  • Is the course you want available in the right location for you?
  • What are the entry requirements (including others beyond academic ones)?
  • Course quality eg teaching/research quality, graduate destinations
  • Is funding available?
  • Is this course the best option for moving forward your career plans? 

More Information:


Remember course closing dates vary from course to course and University to University – some closing dates (such as for PGCEs or for entry to Medicine via UCAS) occur relatively early in the first semester; others are later.

For Queen’s go to ‘Study at Queen’s’ on the website

For other institutions - check with them direct.

What are the main types of postgraduate courses?

Below is a quick guide to the main course options.


Nature of course

How to apply 


Masters – taught (1 or 2 years)

Masters courses are usually higher, specialised degrees comprising study and an extended piece of research or dissertation. They can also be   conversion/accelerated courses for graduates.

Normally direct to institution


Very limited. Some scholarships available (eg North-South Postgraduate Scholarships so check university websites. The Professional and Career Development Loan system is another option.

Postgraduate Diplomas/Certificates(usually 1 year)

Often professional qualifications, such as PGCEs. In some cases a postgraduate course may be taken as a Masters or postgraduate diploma/certificate

Depends – either direct to institution or via a centralised application system eg GTTR for Teaching

Very limited except for certain training courses – areas such as Teaching, Social Work and in Healthcare professions have specific funding packages – check these for eligibility.

Research eg PhD(Min 3 years)


PhDs involve original, specialised research, normally related to your first degree/ Masters and supervised by an academic member of staff. In some cases eg sciences you can progress directly to a PhD from an undergraduate degree; in others, a Masters qualification may be required.

Normally direct to institution


Some funding available eg DEL Postgraduate Research Studentships – check the ‘Money Matters’ section of the Queen’s website; for other universities check their websites.

Other first degrees (3 years plus)

An undergraduate degree in a different (often vocational) subject area eg Medicine. 


Funding can be very difficult to find. Limited funding may be available for specific degrees such as Medicine and Dentistry; again, a PCDL may be an option for at least part of the course.