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Postgraduate qualifications : Postgraduate diplomas and certificates

For those wishing to continue their studies beyond an undergraduate degree, a variety of options are available

Postgrad certificates and diplomas allow students to study something new or build on the skills and knowledge already gained during their first degree.

Types of qualifications

As well as postgrad certificates (PGCert) and postgrad diplomas (PGDip), there are also specific qualifications available for those wanting to enter teaching or law. Graduates striving to become teachers can opt to study for a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE), known as a postgraduate diploma in education (PGDE) in Scotland. Those of you interested in a career in law can take a graduate diploma in law (GDL), formally called the postgraduate diploma in law. For further details, see teacher training and the law sector.

Why study for a postgraduate qualification?

Photo: Group of primary school infants sat on the floor touching their noses

People choose to study at this higher level for many reasons. Some want to study an interest or passion in great depth; others want to further their studies in order to progress on to a PhD and then in to academia. Many need to further their study at this level in order to succeed in a particular profession, such as teaching and law. Whatever your reason, be sure that you are committed to your course, as postgraduate study is demanding, time-consuming and often expensive.

What does it involve?

Postgraduate certificates and diplomas can be academic or vocational and an array of subjects is available to choose from. Often made up of a combination of lectures, seminars, projects and research papers, each course differs according to the institution and programme chosen. To find a course that interests you, search courses and research.

How long does it take to complete?

Certificates are often shorter than diplomas, with each taking a number of months (but less than one year) to complete full time. Students who successfully complete a postgraduate certificate or diploma have the option to continue their studies (usually in the form of a dissertation) in order to turn their qualification into a Masters.

How do I apply?

Applications are often made direct to the university at which you hope to study. You may also be able to apply online through search courses and research

Is funding available?

In recent years, funding for further study has dwindled and it often depends on the course you choose to take. For example, although funding is not available to all PGCE students, those wishing to teach certain shortage subjects in secondary schools may be awarded a bursary if successful in obtaining a place on a course. Search for funding opportunities.

Written by Editor, Prospects
October 2014

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