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Your Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for Postgraduate Courses

Your Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for Postgraduate Courses

by Anna Brown

Each university has its own system for postgraduate admissions and programs. So, if you're interested in studying a postgraduate degree, you will have to apply separately for each university. Read our step-by-step guide to the UK postgraduate application process below.

There is no limit to the number of programs or universities you can apply to, but don't be tempted to apply to as many as you can. Each application takes time, and your focus is better spent concentrating on only applying for the courses you're really passionate about. 

Whilst some universities might handle applications in the faculty or school that you're applying to, others will handle them centrally. 

Before we get started on how to make your application, do you know what kind of course is right for you? Read our blog on the difference between a taught and a research Master's. We also have a blog specifically for those interested in applying for a Master's.

Now you have all the information you need, let's get started with your application. 


In this blog, you will find out how to...


Research your university 

Study the website of the universities you are interested in applying to.

It’s likely that you’ve matured a lot since your undergraduate course, and what you want from a university is likely to have changed as a result.

This is your chance to work out what matters to you, and weigh up your options. Look out for postgraduate communities, how universities are talked about on social media, and what the course covers.  

Make a list of what you want out of your postgraduate journey, and use the list to inform your research.  If Covid-19 restrictions are still in place during your research, you can still get a great feel for universities from the comfort of your own home. Read our latest blog on how to research universities remotely


Choose your course

You can explore our postgraduate courses online, and find out what it's like to study here in our student blogs. 

Universities offer full-time and part-time courses, with some undergraduate degrees including an integrated placement year. 


Complete your application

Before you start your application, make sure you know what to expect from the process and you have checked that your referees are happy to provide you with a reference.

It's also worth checking that your referees aren't going to be away any time soon, as it's important to respond to a reference request quickly.

Unlike undergraduate courses, when you apply for a postgraduate degree you usually apply directly through the university

Complete an application form and send it to the postgraduate admissions department of the university you are applying to, using whatever system they have on their website.

The documents you will need to send off are:

We recommend that you submit your documents:

  • one month before course start date for UK applicants
  • two months before course start date for international applicants

However, don't panic if this isn't possible. Missing documents - such as a missing reference, for example - wouldn't stop you from starting your course. 


Receive an acknowledgment of your application

Once the university has received your application, they will usually get back in touch with you and confirm they've received it, and give you an idea of how long it will take for them to make a decision


Go to an interview

If you live in the UK, then the university may ask you to an attend an interview

Alternatively, some university interviews might be held on the telephone or via a video chat, if that can be arranged.

The good thing about university interviews is that they give you a chance to find out more about the course, the university and the academic staff who you will be working closely with. Read our guide to university interviews

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Accept an offer

It's time to decide which course and university is right for you.

You may have a few offers, so you should choose which one best matches your interests.

Once you know which university you'd like to go to, you should let them know that you're accepting their offer. However, you should also inform the universities that you're not accepting offers from of your decision, too. 

For international students, you will have to accept an offer before you can apply for your visa. This is because in order to come to the UK, you need to be studying a specific postgraduate program.


Making the necessary arrangements

Now it’s time to get everything in order before you start your new course, such as applying for funding.

Postgraduate tuition fees can vary a lot depending on the course you want to study, the quality of teaching, where you're studying and more. You will be able to see how much your tuition fees are when you're looking at courses. 

Tuition fees can vary from as little as £4,900 all the way up to over £30,000 a year. However, on average UK tuition fees are about £11,000.  

Find out more about your postgraduate funding options. You may also need to apply for a student visa

We hope you have found this blog post useful. For more information about postgraduate study, including what online learning is like for postgraduate students, explore our blog