Postgraduate Certificates / Diplomas

Postgraduate diplomas and certificates can be academic or vocational qualifications. They normally take 9 to 12 months to complete full-time. The number of lectures and seminars students goes to and projects and research papers students produce will vary depending on the type of course and the college or university they are at.

There are a wide variety of subjects to choose from. These are often linked to a specific profession. Students can study a subject that’s new to them, or choose a subject that builds on the knowledge and skills they gained during their bachelor’s degree.

Postgraduate certificates can lead on to postgraduate diplomas. Students can also use a postgraduate certificate or diploma as a route into a specific career or onto further study, such as a master’s degree.

Master’s Degree

Most Master’s courses in the UK are taught over 1 year. There are exceptions that require the student to study for two years such as specific MBA courses or specific Architecture courses.

The types of master’s degrees available include:

MA: Master of Arts
MSc: master of Science
MBA: Master of Business Administration
LLM: Master of Law
MEd: Master of Education
MPhil: Master of Philosophy
MRes: Master of Research

Some master’s degrees, such as in business administration and law, prepare students for a career in a particular field. Others, like the master of research can prepare students for a doctorate qualification


A doctorate qualification gives you the opportunity to do an original piece of research. It will usually take at least three years of full-time study to complete. Doctorate qualifications are offered by universities that have research opportunities.

Throughout the course, you will be expected to work independently with guidance from a supervisor.

During the first one to three years of your doctorate, you will research your chosen topic and plan your dissertation and in your final year, you will normally write up your dissertation.

Doctorates are usually awarded as either a pass or fail; in rare cases with a distinction.

Many doctorate courses lead to a qualification such as a doctor of philosophy – a PhD or Dphil.

UK educational system