Deciding to look for a postgraduate course very often proves to be the first step on a truly rewarding journey towards either gaining a deeper knowledge of a subject you love or gaining a specialist qualification.

When you first begin looking for a postgraduate course, however, the first thing you might feel is overwhelmed. It’s the same feeling you might get with any complex item you’re shopping for, such as a phone or a laptop. You need to know what all the numbers and features mean to help you choose one that suits your requirements.

Once you start looking at listings for postgraduate courses, you’ll see a wide range of figures and terms related to them. But what do these all mean, and which are the key ones to keep in mind? For the uninitiated all the information can be daunting, but with the help of this rundown you should manage to get to grips with the lingo that goes with postgraduate courses.

Research or taught

This first feature category of postgraduate courses is a key one. As the name suggests, a taught course will primarily involve you receiving tuition in the subject; the idea is that knowledge is being passed on to you. With a research course, you’re the one generating the knowledge for your subject area, whether that involves trawling through archives, experimenting in a lab or conducting surveys. The emphasis will be on producing a single, large piece of work (a thesis or dissertation), whereas with a taught course you’ll have a steady stream of smaller assignments.


Delivery method

Postgraduate courses aren’t just done on a full-time basis and in the bricks and mortar of a university. They can also be done part time or at a distance. These factors will obviously play a big role in deciding what your experience of your postgraduate course will be like. So think carefully about how the different options would suit or fit into your lifestyle.


Qualification level

Postgraduate studies isn’t just about Master’s courses. Going downwards in the level of complexity and time required to complete the course, there are also diplomas and certificates. Going in the other direction, the highest level of qualification is a PhD, which will typically involve anywhere between 3 and 5 years of full-time study.


This is a key factor to take into consideration when choosing a postgraduate course, as prices can vary very widely between different universities, qualification levels and delivery methods. Whether or not you are a domestic or an international student will also have a big effect on the fees you will be expected to pay.

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