Trying to figure out what your next steps are at any point of education can be difficult. However, this can be even more true after completing your undergraduate degree as it can often give you more opportunities in terms of both career options and further academic study. One of the opportunities that you can take is to further your studies and increase your depth of knowledge in your subject by taking a postgraduate degree.
However, without properly knowing what a postgraduate degree is and what it involves, your decision on whether to take one is made much harder.
In short, a postgraduate degree is an umbrella term that covers any type of degree that students can take that is a higher level than an undergraduate degree. This means that postgraduate degrees are at level 7 or 8 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or levels 11 and 12 in Scotland. The main types of postgraduate degree in the UK are master’s degrees, doctorate degrees, such as PhDs and level 7 Degree Apprenticeships.
Continue reading to learn more about postgraduate degrees in the UK. This article will include information on what postgraduate degrees involve, the types of postgraduate degree, the entry requirements for postgraduate degrees and more.
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What are postgraduate degrees?
To put it simply, the term postgraduate degree refers to any degree that students can take after completing an undergraduate degree. To learn more about postgraduate degrees, check out this guide by University Compare.
Postgraduate degrees are also at a higher level than undergraduate degrees, at levels 7 or 8 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or levels 11 or 12 in Scotland. To learn more about what these levels mean and how they fit into the rest of the education system in the UK, check out this Think Student article.
Due to this, postgraduate degrees are also forms of higher education. If you would like to learn more about higher education, check out this Think Student article.
What types of postgraduate degrees are there in the UK?
The term postgraduate qualification is an umbrella term that covers several different types of qualifications that students can undertake after they complete an undergraduate degree. While there are 4 main types of postgraduate qualification in the UK, only 2 of these are types of postgraduate degree.
The 2 main types of postgraduate degree are master’s degrees and doctorate degrees, such as PhDs. However, other main postgraduate qualifications that don’t quite count as degrees are postgraduate certificates and postgraduate diplomas. Also, level 7 Degree Apprenticeships are at the same level as master’s degrees and so can be counted as postgraduate degrees.
To learn more about these types of postgraduate degree, namely master’s degrees, PhDs and Degree Apprenticeships. Also, check out this governmental guide to get more of an overview about what these qualifications are. As well as this governmental guide for more on the level of Degree Apprenticeships.
What is a master’s degree?
A master’s degree is a type of degree that can be taken after an undergraduate degree in order to gain an increased specialism in your subject area. Master’s degrees can either be taken as research degrees, such as with an MRes or Master of Research degree, or they can be taught, as most are. To learn more about taught master’s degrees vs research master’s degrees, check out this article by Find A Master’s.
Regardless of the type of master’s degree, it will still take up much less time than an undergraduate degree. This will be 1 or 2 years for full-time study or 3 or 4 years for part-time study.
Also, a master’s degree in the UK will either be a level 7 qualification, if you’re in England, Wales or Northern Ireland or a level 11 qualification in Scotland. To learn more about master’s degrees in the UK, check out this Think Student article.
What is a PhD?
A PhD is a type of research degree, in which students research, build up and write their lengthy thesis. This is done over the 3 or 4 years of full-time study or the 6 or 7 years of a part-time study.
As mentioned above, a PhD is a type of postgraduate degree that is at the highest level of study in the UK as it is a type of doctorate degree. It is the level above a master’s degree although it is not particularly necessary for you to have got a master’s degree before getting a PhD.
At the level above a master’s degree, a PhD is a level 8 qualification in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or a level 12 qualification in Scotland. To learn more about PhDs, check out this Think Student article.
What is a Degree Apprenticeship?
A Degree Apprenticeship is a type of apprenticeship that you can take at either undergraduate or master’s degree level, at either level 6 or 7 respectively. Just like any other apprenticeship, students are able to work towards their qualifications part-time for 20% of their time while working within their field and getting both experience and a salary for 80% of their time.
Degree Apprenticeships can last between 3 and 6 years and within that time the apprentice will be just like a regular employee. The main difference being that they will typically have 1 day of their degree studies per week, although the arrangements may be slightly different.
Due to being able to take a Degree Apprenticeship at level 7 or level 11 in Scotland, Degree Apprenticeships at this level technically count as a form of a postgraduate degree. This is because as mentioned above, it is the equivalent of a master’s degree. To learn more about Degree Apprenticeships, check out this Think Student article.
Do you need an undergraduate degree to do a postgraduate degree?
By definition, a postgraduate degree is a degree undertaken after completing an undergraduate degree. This means that yes, you will typically need to have already received an undergraduate degree before you can get a postgraduate. To learn more about the definition of a postgraduate degree, check out this page by the Cambridge Dictionary.
This is especially for a master’s degree and a doctorate degree, such as a PhD. Both of these types of postgraduate degree will normally require you to have a 2:1 grade in your undergraduate degree in order to study them, although this can vary based on what you are applying for so always check the entry requirements first. To learn more about their entry requirements, check out their respective Think Student articles here and here.
However, as apprenticeships, Degree Apprenticeships don’t particularly require you to have an undergraduate qualification at all before studying a level 7 Degree Apprenticeship. While the requirements are likely to vary based on what programme you are applying for, the entry requirements are likely to be a level 4 qualification or above alongside some years of experience. To learn more about this, check out this article by the Apprenticeships Guide.