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Postgraduate qualifications : Conversion courses

What do graduates do?


It's never too late to change career direction with a vocational postgraduate qualification…

What is a conversion course?

There are different types of conversion degrees to choose from and each is particular to a specific industry. Deciding which one to pick will depend on the type of course you wish to do at postgraduate level and the industry in which you wish to work. 

Some of the popular conversion courses available are:

  • Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) - the GDL is a popular conversion for students wishing to become law professionals. To be a solicitor or a barrister, you will need to complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), respectively. Taking the GDL is the fast-track route onto these courses and is ideal for students without accredited undergraduate degrees in law. For more information, see law conversion courses.
  • Graduate Diploma in Psychology (GDP) - for students who have not studied a degree accredited by the British Psychology Society (BSP), the GDP gives students access to a professional psychology course. 
  • IT conversion courses - many graduates choose to undertake courses in this field when considering careers in technical and business roles, as specialised IT knowledge can significantly improve your prospects. There are a variety of different courses that can be combined with your undergraduate degree to make you more attractive to employers and increase your chances of getting a job in the information technology sector. 
  • Medicine conversion courses - if you didn't studied medicine in your first degree, you can take a four-year, fast-track course. Some courses will accept graduates from any discipline, while others will require you to have studied a relevant subject, such as biology or chemistry. You will need to have completed relevant work experience to gain entry onto these courses.
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) - the PGCE is the qualification to take if you wish to become a teacher. It involves teaching in classrooms so you learn while you work. Students from all disciplines can take the PGCE and it often leads straight into a job. Find out more about applying for teacher training

Conversion courses are available in a range of subjects, including accountancy, business, engineering, human resources (HR), marketing, property and social work. To find a conversion course to suit you, search postgraduate courses.

Why do a conversion course?

If you wish to change careers or continue studying in a different subject area from your undergraduate degree, you could take a conversion course. For example, an English or history graduate wanting to start a legal career would need to complete a law conversion course in order to meet the entry requirements for postgraduate study. For more information see what can I do with my degree?

Because conversion programmes are largely vocational, many are accredited by a professional body. If you are working in an industry that acknowledges a professional body, your employer may sponsor you to complete a course, which can lead to improved job prospects and fast-tracked career development. 

What does a conversion course involve?

Programmes are usually year-long, taught courses, but this can depend on the subject. Fast-track routes compile programmes into shorter time scales for individuals looking to boost their skills and enter the job market quickly.  

Modes of study will depend on the course subject, but will usually involve work placements and a hands-on approach with exams being taken alongside essays. 

How do I apply?

Unlike the undergraduate application procedure there is no single body that covers all postgraduate admissions. For most postgraduate courses you apply direct to the university and each will have its own process and deadlines. For more information, see applying for postgraduate courses.

Is funding available?

With the vocational nature of these courses, your employer may be willing to sponsor you, especially if your course is accredited by a professional body and can prove beneficial to the organisation.

Other sources of funding, such as grants and scholarships, may be available for postgraduate conversion courses, depending on the subject and your circumstances. Get information on funding postgraduate study and search for funding opportunities.

Written by Editor, Graduate Prospects
August 2014

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