What are Postgraduate Qualifications?

Postgraduate qualifications are of interest to those that are looking to continue their education after being awarded a bachelor’s degree. It could also interest those that want to further their knowledge concerning a certain subject, as there are numerous postgraduate qualifications one can study. A couple of these postgraduate qualifications are related to a particular career, while others enable you to engage in original research.

What exactly is a postgraduate qualification?

There are 4 principal forms of postgraduate degrees available. They are doctorates, master’s degree, postgraduate diplomas and postgraduate certificates.

The majority of these postgraduate degrees comprise of a research and learning element. Typically, to be able to attain a postgraduate degree, it is necessary for you to have a 2:2 bachelor’s degree or higher.

Postgraduate certificates and diplomas

Postgraduate certificates and diplomas can either be vocational or academic qualifications. These courses typically last anything from 9 to 12 months when studied full time. How many seminars and lectures you have to attend, as well as research papers and projects all typically depend on the course type and which university or college you are studying the course at.

What subjects are available

There are a plethora of courses ranging in different subjects to select from. The majority of these courses are typically related to a particular profession; however, it is possible to study a new subject or select a course that helps to improve on the skills and knowledge you attained over the course of studying for a bachelor’s degree.

The grades awarded are typical: distinction, being the highest mark, merit, and then pass, and fail being the lowest. It is possible to study for postgraduate diplomas after attaining a postgraduate certificate. 

Masters degrees

This is an academic study qualification that can either be lecture based or research oriented. It is also possible for the master’s degree to be a combination of the two teaching methods. Studying this degree takes about 12 months when being studied fulltime. 

There are numerous master degrees available and they include: 

  • MSc: master of science
  • MA: Master of Arts
  • MBA: master of business administration
  • MPhil: master of philosophy 
  • MEd: Master of education

The majority of master degree programs make use of the same four marking systems as a postgraduate diploma. They are: Fail, pass, merit and distinction. Quite a number of master degrees like those in law or business administration prepare you for working in a certain file.  however, others such as a master of research degree can help you attain a doctorate degree.


Having a doctorate degree enables you to engage in research. This program typically takes a minimum of 3 years to study when being studied full time. You will have to work by yourself with only minimal guidance from your chosen supervisor. The first couple years of the doctorate you choose will see you research a topic you have selected while planning your dissertation. The final year actually has you write your dissertation up.