How to apply to a postgraduate course in the UK
Postgraduate admissions in the UK differs from undergraduate admissions. For a start, very few universities use a central application system such as UCAS. Instead, most universities require you to submit an individual application directly to the university. There is less standardisation across postgraduate admissions and each university has their own admission process that needs to be followed to gain entry. Therefore, it’s crucial that you do your research into each course that you’re considering making sure you submit a successful application.
Here we break down what you need to consider when applying to a postgraduate course in the UK.
Timeline – is there a deadline you need to meet or are admissions rolling? Many competitive courses have early deadlines and will not consider any late applications. Other courses will have open admissions that only close when the course is full, but it’s always advisable to apply early so you don’t miss out. Applications usually open in November for the following September, ideally you want to apply by March (or by any deadline). There may also be scholarship deadlines to consider if you need funding.
Entry requirements – what criteria do you need to meet for entry to the course? You’ll probably need to have achieved a minimum grade in your undergraduate degree (usually the equivalent of a 2:1) which may be in a particular subject. If English isn’t your first language, you may have to submit English language test results. And some specialist degrees might require work experience or other test scores such as GMAT (Business), BMAT (Medicine) or LNAT (Law). Each university will have different requirements so check every one.
Supporting documents – what documents do you need to submit as part of your application? It’s normal to submit a personal statement explaining your reasons for wanting to study the course. Unlike at undergraduate level where one statement is sent to all unis, you are expected to tailor this to each university you are applying to, even if it’s the same course. You may also need to submit a research proposal, CV, cover letter, career statement, other essays or video statement.
Interview – does the application process include an interview? Many postgraduate courses now require this to facilitate selection of the best candidates. This may be a traditional-style interview in-person or via video conferencing with an Admissions Tutor or Academic. Some universities are moving to an automated interview system, such as Kira Talent, where you are given questions to answer on the spot and your responses are recorded and timed.
With all this to consider, preparing for your postgraduate applications in the UK can mount up to quite a bit of work, so it’s advisable to limit the number of applications to 3 or 4 universities. It’s also a good idea to get support to make sure you’re submitting a competitive application. As ex admissions officers, the UKSO team is experienced in postgraduate admissions and will guide you through these demanding application processes to maximise your chance of success. Schedule a free consultation to discuss your study goals.