Find further study: types of courses
Find out about the different types of postgraduate courses available.
Research postgraduate degrees
PhDs involve a period of supervised research resulting in a thesis that makes a new contribution to knowledge. PhDs take 3-4 years (full-time) or 6-8 years (part-time). You may initially be registered on an MPhil and then transferred onto a PhD after successful completion of the first year. The structure of PhD programmes and how they are funded is increasingly varied, so you should research the opportunities available within your discipline and departments you are considering applying to. For more information on funding and application processes for PhDs, see the pages on applying for further study and funding further study.
Masters by research (usually called MRes) degrees take one or two years, and usually combine training in research methodologies and sometimes other taught components with the production of an in-depth dissertation. In some cases, an MRes can form the first year of a four-year 'Integrated PhD' which exists in some departments and disciplines.
A few research programmes include other training, such as the EngD. Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is a scheme where universities and employers offer a paid job in industry combined with a research degree.
Taught postgraduate degrees
Taught Masters courses last one or two years and follow a similar structure to undergraduate degrees. During the course you will follow a programme combining a variety of lectures, seminars, tutorials, coursework, and exams, depending on the programme, and you will complete a dissertation over the summer.
Diplomas and certificates
These are usually vocational, often involve the obtainment of a professional qualification, such as the PGCE to qualify as a teacher, and usually last a year, occasionally two.
If you're thinking of becoming a teacher, there's some essential reading available through TARGETjobs: Teaching and education graduate careers advice. This information is written by AGCAS members (Association of Graduates).
See also the Education section on the Occupational information resources page in our resources catalogue.