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Types of postgraduate study

Our postgraduate degrees (master’s degrees) offer you the chance to explore a subject at an advanced, in-depth level. You can expect the course content and assignments to be more complex and demanding than at an undergraduate level.

Most postgraduate students will have completed an undergraduate degree. For many of our courses, it’s a requirement that you’ve already gained a degree-level qualification in a related field. Alternatively, you should have significant relevant work experience.

There are two types of master’s degrees:

  • Postgraduate taught (PGT) degrees
  • Postgraduate research (PGR) degrees

Frequently asked questions

A master’s degree is the most common type of postgraduate qualification. It usually takes one year to complete full-time or two to three years part-time. When you graduate you'll be awarded a master’s degree, such as a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Science (MSc).

There are other types of postgraduate qualifications, including:

  • Postgraduate Certificates (PGCert)
  • Postgraduate Diplomas (PGDip)
  • Conversion courses
  • Doctorates

For more information on these qualifications check out the rest of this helpful article.

Most postgraduate master’s degrees take one year to complete if you’re studying full-time, or two to three years if you’re studying part-time.

Postgraduate Certificates and Postgraduate Diplomas take a shorter amount of time to complete.

Our integrated master’s degrees (also known as undergraduate master’s degrees) combine three years of undergraduate-level study with one year of postgraduate-level study. Taking four years in all (full-time) or around six years (if studied part-time). Some of these courses give you the option of going on a year-long industry placement which adds an extra year to the length of your course.

Postgraduate taught (PGT) degrees

Most students opt for our postgraduate taught (PGT) degrees. These are similar in format and delivery to what you’ll have experienced at undergraduate level.

Your studies will likely consist of a mixture of taught sessions, essays and other assignments, independent study, and (for some courses) exams.

Most taught master’s degrees take around one year to complete full-time, or two to three years (or more) if studied part-time or online. This is much shorter than most undergraduate degrees, which usually take three years to complete full-time.

Towards the end of your course, it’s likely that you’ll complete a dissertation or extended project.

You’ll study a number of modules, including a dissertation at the end, which add up to 180 credits in total. The taught course modules add up to 120 credits, while the dissertation or final project is worth 60 credits.

Depending on the subject you choose, you’ll graduate with one of the following qualifications (there are others – this isn’t an exhaustive list):

  • MA Master of Arts
  • MArch Master of Architecture
  • MBA Master of Business Administration
  • LLM Master of Laws
  • MSc Master of Science

As well as our full master’s degrees, we also offer shorter courses which lead to either a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) or a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip).

Postgraduate research (PGR) degrees

Some of our students choose to study a postgraduate research (PGR) degree. This offers a very different experience from the life of a postgraduate taught (PGT) student.

Rather than attending regular teaching sessions, completing a programme of modules and assignments. On a PGR degree, the majority of your time will be spent working on a single in-depth research project. It’s a substantial commitment that will require you to work independently and collaborate with others. With a view to making a unique contribution to the body of knowledge in your chosen field.

Research degrees are popular amongst individuals who are aspiring towards a career in academia. You'll work under the direction of an academic supervisor and receive all the training you need to carry out independent research. Your research is likely to involve undertaking fieldwork in the UK or overseas.

To be accepted onto a research degree you’ll normally need to submit a research proposal that fits in with the University’s research interests.

At the end of your research degree you'll submit a thesis. To get your final qualification you may need to attend and pass a viva voce examination. This involves discussing and defending your thesis, including your research findings and methods, in front of a panel of academic staff.

Our postgraduate research (PGR) degrees at master’s level include:

  • MA by Research Master of Arts
  • MSc by Research Master of Science
  • LLM by Research Master of Laws
  • MPhil by Research Master of Philosophy

Depending on which research degree you choose, you’ll be expected to complete your research and submit your thesis within a given timeframe. A master’s degree by research typically takes around one year to complete full-time, or two to three years part-time.

Doctorate level qualifications

The most advanced qualifications we offer are our doctorate-level degrees, which include:

  • MD Res Doctor of Medicine
  • PhD Doctor of Philosophy

A PhD can take three to four years to complete full-time, or around six or seven years if studying part-time.

Find out more about our postgraduate research degrees.