Find out what the subject-specific entry requirements for postgraduate university courses are, and what universities are looking for.
When choosing a postgraduate course, it’s important to check the entry requirements thoroughly. If you are applying for either a taught or research-based course, universities will be looking for:
- strong evidence of your interest in your chosen field
- sustained commitment to research at undergraduate level
- the ability to work independently and in a team
- realistic expectations of what can be achieved in your studies
- evidence from other training, experience, and study that you have the requisite academic skills to cope with the course (this is particularly important for mature applicants or those who do not meet the normal entry requirements)
- indication that you have the requisite motivation to take on a new discipline in a short space of time if completing a conversion course
Some entry requirements are applicable for all postgraduate qualifications. This helps both you and your chosen university check you’re ready for the level of study a postgraduate qualification requires.
- MA/MSc/MRes/MPhil – You will normally need at least a 2:2 in a relevant degree. Subject requirements vary depending on the course. Some courses require a degree in a science related subject, while others have more flexible requirements. Industry experience may also be required for certain courses. Other qualifications equivalent to a degree and relevant experience may also be taken into account by some universities.
- PhD – As above you require a minimum of a 2:1 in a relevant degree (other equivalent qualifications may be considered), although many courses also require a master’s degree. You will also be expected to submit a research proposal detailing the scope of your study.
Subject-specific entry requirements
- MArch – To undertake the RIBA part 2, students will require a degree in architecture, together with one year’s qualifying work experience resulting in recognised completion of RIBA stage 1. A portfolio of work will also need to be submitted as part of the application process.
- MBA – Normally an honours degree at 2:1, or the equivalent, from any subject background, plus a minimum of two or three years' work experience with strong career progression. If you do not have a first degree, you may be eligible if you have significant work experience.
- Other business master’s qualifications – In most cases, you’ll need a 2:1 for your first degree, and many MiM courses also ask for economics or business at undergraduate level. You probably won’t be asked to take the GMAT (Graduate Management Assessment Test) or have one or two years’ experience in relevant work, although some universities do require these.
What else are universities looking for?
- Numeracy, the ability to think critically, logically, and generate ideas, and have a good awareness of economic and international affairs.
- Other key skills and competencies, such as analytical skills, communication, negotiation, presentation, problem-solving, reasoning, and creativity. Good knowledge of MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are also important.
- MBAs and master’s programmes incorporate a considerable number of written assignments, essays, and assessed project reports, for which strong written English skills are essential. Teamwork and projects also require strong spoken English and presentation skills.
- MSc/MRes/MPhil – Advanced computer science courses, for example, are aimed at those who have first degrees in computer science or mathematics, while conversion courses have more flexible degree subject requirements. Universities may also take into account other qualifications equivalent to a degree, and relevant experience working in IT or computing.
Creative arts and design
- MA/MRes/MPhil – A portfolio of work and/or audition will be required for courses focusing on the development of creative or performance-based skills.
- PhD – Depending on the course, a portfolio of work or audition may be required.
Other entry requirements
- High levels of motivation, enthusiasm, and commitment to your chosen field.
- Evidence of talent and aptitude for creative and performance skills courses.
- The ability to work collaboratively and share ideas with others.
Find out more
- PGCE (PGDE in Scotland) – You will need at least a 2:2 in a degree relevant to the subject you wish to teach. In addition, you will require a GCSE grade C or 4, or above, in maths, English (grades B or 5 in Wales), and science (to teach students aged 3 to 11). All trainee teachers are required to pass the professional skills test in numeracy and literacy. Finally, you will also be expected to have had at least one week’s school experience.
- MA/MSc/MRes/MPhil – Some courses are designed to develop the practice of those already working in education and may require applicants to hold a professional teaching qualification, and/or have a minimum level of experience.
- EdD – The requirements are similar to those for PhDs and in addition, you will also require significant professional experience.
If you’re thinking of teaching maths, physics, chemistry, computing, languages, biology, geography, or design and technology, but you’re unsure if you have the right subject knowledge, remember that you might be eligible for a subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) course. These can be full-time, part-time, or delivered in parallel with your teacher training course – there are also bursaries available to support you during an SKE course.”
Get Into Teaching
For teacher training, course providers are also looking for*:
- your reasons for wanting to teach – and, more specifically, why you’ll enjoy teaching your chosen subject and/or age group
- your understanding of the rewards and benefits of becoming a teacher
- how previous studies and any work experience relate to your chosen subject or age group
- what you’ve learnt during your school experience placements and how this has influenced your application
- how you’ve benefited from any other experience that you may have of working with children or young people
- understanding of current policies and practices in education and teaching in general
*Source: Get Into Teaching
- You will need to be able to demonstrate fluency and competence in your target language. This may include the need to complete assessments of writing, reading, and aural comprehension.
- Universities will also be looking for examples of transcripts that demonstrate your written skills (particularly for English studies and creative writing courses).
- GDL/CPE – You will need a minimum of a 2:2 in an honours degree, but some universities require a 2:1. Applications for full-time courses need to be made through the Central Applications Board, while applications for part-time courses can be made direct to the course provider.
- LLB – You will normally need to have completed an LLB qualifying law degree.
By the time you reach the stage of applying for a period of recognised training, you should have carried out extensive research and know where you want to work. It is highly recommended that you undertake some relevant work experience, as this will help to enhance your CV.”
The Law Society
Statistics conversion courses are designed for people whose undergraduate degrees did not contain much mathematics or statistics. If your undergraduate degree contained little or no statistics, you might need to take extra units at or before the start of the MSc to bring you up to speed.”
Royal Statistical Society
Medicine and allied subjects
- MSc/MRes/MPhil – Courses designed to develop a practitioner’s experience and specialist knowledge may set minimum levels of post-qualification clinical experience.
Publishing, media, and information management
- MSc/MRes/MPhil – Relevant work experience may be expected for some courses, including journalism and information management.
Competition for places on any of the programmes can be quite fierce, so the directors of the postgraduate programmes look for applicants who have a good undergraduate degree and prior commitment to the profession, demonstrated through work experience, either paid or voluntary.”
Archives and Records Association
- Social work – In addition to the academic requirements, universities require all applicants to have relevant work experience in a social work or a related care setting before being accepted on to a postgraduate course. Some course providers have specific requirements for this experience. Universities will also be looking for evidence that applicants are suited to a career in social work. The selection process is therefore likely to focus on your:
- interest and motivation to undertake the career
- interpersonal and communication skills
- ability to relate to people of all ages and backgrounds
- resilience to deal with challenging and emotionally difficult cases
The master’s degree is usually two years long and so people on the course go on to their practice placements fairly soon into their course. It is therefore vital that people undertaking the course have a good understanding of what social work entails.”
British Association of Social Workers
- MSc/MRes/MPhil – Some courses will require a veterinary degree, and you may need a minimum level of veterinary experience.
- PhD – Depending on the type of research, you may need a veterinary degree.