Further Study: Finding, Researching and Considering Your Options

One of the benefits of postgraduate study is that it offers a high level of specialisation. While this is great, the amount of choice available can make it a little tricky to narrow down your options. Keep reading to learn about the different types of postgraduate study, how to research courses, and what to consider when narrowing down your options.

Remember, you don’t need to jump straight in to further study! Taking time out can benefit both your career and your wellbeing. You can use this time to reflect on what you enjoy on a day-to-day basis and on a larger scale, which can clarify what you want from your career. You can hear more about this from the perspective of a graduate in our blog post: ‘Graduate stories: Deferring my biology Master’s to stay in Bristol‘.

Types of further study

The many different types of postgraduate courses vary in purpose, content, and delivery. These include:

  • Taught Masters – MA, MSc
  • Masters by research – MRes, MPhil
  • Research degree – PhD, DPhil
  • Professional/vocational – PG Cert/PGDip
  • Conversion – Teaching (PGCE), Law (GDL)

Finding and researching specific courses

If you know vaguely what you are looking for, start by browsing on the Find a Master’s or Find a PhD website. You can filter by discipline, location, or working flexibility. If a course catches your eye, have a look at the specific institution’s website, or attend an open day. You can also utilise Bristol Connects or LinkedIn to reach out to alumni from specific courses. You can see how their career has progressed since graduating and ask their opinions on the course.

Similarly, consulting academics working in the field can give you invaluable insights and potentially bust some misconceptions. For example, did you know that you don’t always need a master’s degree to apply for a PhD? Sending a quick email asking for recommendations could save you a lot of time and lead you down the best path possible.

An image of two signs pointing down different paths, saying "this way?" and "that way?"

Factors to consider when narrowing down your options


In some careers, specific qualifications are essential, in which case, you should ensure that your course is accredited appropriately. Prospect’s job profiles have strong overviews of what qualifications are necessary, or beneficial for specific professions, and the various pathways to achieve them.

Course delivery and content

Postgraduate study differs to undergraduate study, typically having fewer contact hours, more academic independence, and more personal responsibility. It is important that you consider how a course is delivered and how this fits your preferred working style. Similarly, look at the course’s units, or contact alumni to gauge whether the content is interesting to you and relevant to your career.

Links with industry

Some postgraduate courses offer integrated industry work experience, alongside study or research, which can make you a highly sought after candidate. It’s a good idea to reach out to employers to find out what they value in candidates before seeking out a postgraduate course. Attending our Get Hired careers fair on Wednesday 3 May is a great opportunity to do this.

Flexible study options

It is not uncommon to enrol in a postgraduate course part-time, while working an independently sourced part-time job. This can help you financially, while simultaneously developing your wider professional skills.

Academics and facilities

Researching for your undergraduate degree may have revolved quite heavily around general university rankings. As postgraduate study is more specialist, it is worthwhile researching the academics linked to the course and seeing if their work interests you. Similarly, you’ll want to consider how the institution’s facilities suit your speciality. This is especially true for research related courses.

It is important that you consider whether postgraduate study is the best option for you. If you’re unsure, you may find it useful to read this relevant blog post, or contact us. Our team are always happy to chat about your next steps.

Take a look at our further study resources to find out more and access application support. You may also be interested in attending our ‘Finding and funding further study‘ session.