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Developing Career Potential

Postgraduate study

If you are thinking about doing postgraduate study after your first degree you need to consider why you are applying for a taught course (such as an MA or MSc) or a research programme (such as an MPhil or PhD).

Are you taking up postgraduate study because a particular job or profession needs it? Are you taking up postgraduate study because you can't think of anything else to do after your degree? Many graduate recruiters value work experience rather than extra qualifications in some cases.

Further study may be needed to enter your chosen career, or it could be used to demonstrate your enhanced technical and transferable skills to an employer and a commitment to your subject. However, do not assume that a higher qualification will automatically help you get into your chosen career.

Find out about:

Taught postgraduate courses

A masters degree will give you the opportunity to either further your knowledge of a particular subject or study a completely different area using the skills gained from your undergraduate degree.

Masters of Arts (MA) courses are usually found in arts, social sciences, business or humanities subjects. Masters of Science (MSc) are usually found in science and social science courses.

There are a large number of Masters of Research (MRes) courses for science and social science subjects. Although these are taught courses, 60% of the content has to be individual research project work. It is useful for prospective PhD candidates or those who wish to pursue a research career.

A full-time masters usually takes one year and a part-time course usually takes two years.

Research degrees

The best-known research qualification is the PhD, also known as a DPhil. Other qualifications are MA and MSc degrees by research and the MPhil, which is sometimes taken before studying for a PhD.

For a PhD you would carry out a major piece of research of 40,000 words or more, aiming to get this published in journals or in its own right.

You can apply for taught courses or research degrees by contacting the individual universities you wish to apply to. There is no clearing house such as UCAS.

Conversion courses

Conversion courses enable you to change direction in your career and to gain new knowledge and skills. These courses include business, IT, law, medicine, nursing, psychology, social work, speech and language therapy, and teaching.

If you are interested in teaching, please come to our sessions on the different routes into teaching and how to apply.

Professional qualifications

You would take a professional or vocational qualification after your degree to improve your skills or to gain the knowledge required by specific jobs. Most awards involve some practical training, which gives you the opportunity to experience a job first-hand. Many of these qualifications can be taken part time whilst working, and some employers will offer this as part of their employment package.

Professional qualifications can also help you to gain recognition and to achieve a higher level of ability in your chosen field. You can gain accreditation for these qualifications from a large number of professional bodies. Examples of professional bodies that give this accreditation include the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

Applying for postgraduate study – personal statements

To gain a place on a postgraduate course you will need to fill in an application form. This is very important as it shows a university your commitment to their course or research programme. You are usually given 250–500 words for a personal statement. Whatever the word count use it – a university will not be impressed if they give you a 250-word count and you type 100 words!

A personal statement is a means for you to 'sell yourself' to the university. It is important to get it right. In your personal statement you will need to include the following:

  • Why you want to do the course/research.
  • Why you want to study/carry out research in a specific subject.
  • Why you want to do this at a specific university.
  • Why you are suitable for the course/research you are applying for.
  • What skills you have to offer including academic skills.
  • What are your strengths.
  • The relevance of your first degree to the course/research you want to do.
  • Your career aims.

Just like any other application, it very important that you get the basics right as well as giving the university the 'bigger picture'. You must get your spelling, grammar and punctuation right on your application form. Read through your personal statement and the rest of your application form thoroughly before you send it so that you can spot any mistakes or errors.

When you are filling in a form please ensure that you follow the instructions given. You do not need to include:

  • Irrelevant details about yourself – universities do not need to know about your childhood.
  • 'Sayings' and anecdotes – be factual.
  • Phrases from templates – write the personal statement in your own words.

Contact us

KU Talent
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 7445
Email us

Contact us

KU Talent
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 7445
Email us

Kingston University careers - KU Talent

Find out more

Kingston University students can visit the My Kingston Staffspace document intranet site (KU login required) for more information.

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