Finding a course
University and college postgraduate prospectuses list research opportunities and taught courses.
If you're not sure which course you want to do or which college you want to study at, a good starting point is the Prospects website, where you can search for courses throughout the UK. If you're interested in a research opportunity, sign up on the Prospects website to get research vacancies emailed to you.
Some colleges have a postgraduate open day, which is a chance for you to meet your prospective tutors or supervisors. Check the entry requirements for your course, as you usually need a minimum of a lower second (2:2) bachelors degree.
How to apply for a postgraduate course
You need to apply directly to the university, unless you want to do a postgraduate course in social work, in which case you apply through UCAS. Some universities and colleges let you apply online for both taught courses and research opportunities.
You can do this from the college's website or the Prospects website. Prospects site will store your personal details, so if you're making more than one application it will complete sections automatically, saving you time.
The application form
Each university or college has its own online application form, so you need to fill in a new form for each application.
In the section on funding, you will need to say how you will support yourself financially. If you are applying for a scholarship you need to state which one, so it's a good idea to keep an eye open for potential sources of funding while you search for a course.
If you're applying for a research opportunity, you will also need to write a proposal for your research. You can get more information on how detailed this should be by contacting an academic in the department you're applying to.
You need to download a form for your academic referees to fill in. They then post their statements to the university or college. You may also need to provide proof of your qualifications. There may be an application fee.
When courses start
Taught courses can start in October or January. Most research students start in October. You can apply for a course up to one year ahead and, with strong competition for some courses, the earlier you send your application, the better. As deadlines for applications vary for each course, it's best to check the prospectus.
If you plan to apply for funding, you need to get your course application processed early, so that you have an offer of a place before you send your funding application.
Interviews and offers
The postgraduate prospectus will tell you when you are likely to hear back from the university. You may need to have an interview or you may be offered a place based on your written application. There are two kinds of offer, unconditional and conditional. An unconditional offer is a firm offer of a place, while a conditional offer depends on you achieving certain grades or qualifications.