This article will provide a basic overview of postgraduate study and the application process, and will also explain how you can access further guidance and support.

An increasing number of students consider postgraduate or further study as an option - to develop specialist expertise, enter a profession or enhance employment prospects. This article provides further information to help you explore the courses available, find out how to apply and look at possible sources of funding. Once you have done some initial research you can get further advice by talking to the advisers at the University of Portsmouth’s Careers and Employability Service. 

What type of course could I study?

In general terms, there are three main types of courses:

  • Taught – These are generally between nine –12 months long and involve you attending university in order to learn about a given topic. For example, Masters Programmes or Postgraduate Diplomas and Certificates would be classified as "taught".
  • Research – This is an in-depth study into an area of interest or specialism resulting in the production of a dissertation. This would normally be conducted over a period of two or three years. The most well-known research qualification is the Doctorate of Philosophy or PhD, which is also known as the DPhil.
  • Professional – These are courses that are required specifically for you to qualify in a specific career area, such as law or accountancy. These qualifications differ slightly to research and taught programmes as they are generally awarded by professional bodies.

How can I find a course?

There are a wide range of courses available and this can seem overwhelming. In order to make your choice, you should think carefully about the following:

  • What do you hope to gain from your further study?
  • What are you interested in?
  • Does the course attract funding?
  • What are your options for when you finish the further study?
  • Where, geographically, would you like to study? If you are interested in staying in Portsmouth, the University runs postgraduate information days.

The Careers and Employability website provides links to online directories of postgraduate courses searchable by type, subject, location and institution.

How do I apply for courses?

Most postgraduate courses do not have set closing dates, with the exception of some vocational areas such as teaching, medicine and law. However, on popular courses, competition for places can be fierce so apply as early in your final year of study as you can.

To find out how to apply you need to look at each course and institution’s application process as these do vary. Most will require an application form sent directly to the institution outlining your personal details and suitability for the course that you would like to study.

If you would like one-to-one feedback and advice on your application, you can make an appointment with a careers adviser. (See contact details below).

Can I get funding for my course?

Unfortunately, there is no entitlement to funding for postgraduate study. However, in 2016 the government introduced a loan of up to £10,000 for postgraduate study in order to assist with course fees and living costs. The UK government has also confirmed that PhD loans will be introduced in 2018.  If you start your search early and explore all the options, there is every chance that you will gain some sort of funding, even if this means supporting your study through part-time work. You can find further advice on funding through the University of Portsmouth website.

Are there options to study abroad?

If you are thinking about studying abroad you need to think about how you could get the most out of your time and what benefit it would be to you.

  • Think about where you would like to study – you can find out information on specific countries by using the country specific information on the Prospects website.
  • Do your research – what is the culture or education like in that country? What entrance qualifications do you need? Will the qualification you gain be recognised back in the UK?
  • Do you have the language skills to succeed with overseas study or would you need to consider English-speaking universities only?

Where can I get further information and advice?

The University’s Careers and Employability Service have a dedicated team of friendly, experienced advisers on hand to talk to you. You can drop-in to the Careers and Employability Centre at any time during our opening hours or call us on +44 (0) 23 9284 2684. You can also access a wide range of information and advice on our website at


How to Contact us

Visit us at:

Careers and Employability Service

University of Portsmouth

28 Guildhall Walk



Opening hours:

Monday–Thursday: 8.30am–5pm

Friday: 8.30am–4pm


Telephone or Email:

t: +44 (0)23 9284 2684


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