Further Study and Research

Continuing or returning to study can be an excellent next step in your career planning and development. For some careers, further study is a requirement, for example, clinical psychology or librarianship. It's a big decision which requires commitment in terms of time and money so you need to be highly motivated and clear about what you hope to gain from the additional qualification. Research the options and choose the route which best fits your career aims.

Before undertaking further study you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • how will it further my career development?
  • is it a requirement for my chosen career?
  • what will I gain from it?
  • can I afford it?
  • where will I study?
  • do I meet the entry requirements? Remember that these might not just be academic, some vocational postgraduate courses require relevant experience too.

A second undergraduate degree

The most common reason for considering a second undergraduate degree is to gain a vocational qualification such as:

  • medicine
  • dentistry
  • or law.

These occupations cal also offer shortened courses for graduates. Check professional body websites to find out which vocational degrees you’re considering are accredited.

Planitplus will help you to source undergraduate courses in Scotland and UCAS will help you to access undergraduate courses throughout the UK.

Postgraduate degrees

These are normally one year with taught modules, leading to a postgraduate certificate or diploma and with the addition of a dissertation (up to a further 6 months) leading to a masters qualification.

A postgraduate degree can give you the opportunity to specialise in your subject or to change your career direction. Some courses are also professional or vocational qualifications, such as the PGDE for teaching, or RICS approved MSc for chartered surveying.

Teacher training

If you're thinking of applying for teacher training, you may find the following websites useful:


MBAs are a bit different in that they have relevance to a wide range of sectors. The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is an internationally recognised degree designed to develop the skills and knowledge required for management careers.

Most MBAs include core subjects, such as accounting, economics, marketing, and operations, as well as elective courses that allow participants to follow their own personal or professional interests.

Most universities offering MBAs require that candidates have at least a few years of professional work experience before starting the programme. Applicants may also be asked to submit to a Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), and provide academic transcripts, letters of reference, and an essay or statement of purpose that reflects why they want to pursue an MBA. Fees and reputation of MBA’s vary considerably so research is essential.

You may find the following links helpful:

PhD, research masters and research staff

You can either propose your own research project or work on a defined project within a research team. Masters degrees by research usually last one or two years, with PhDs normally taking three to four years to complete. It is now common to do a taught or research Masters degree first before continuing to a PhD. Some funded PhDs will be on a 1+3 basis, which is one year of a masters plus three years of PhD funding. Some PhDs are self-funded.

Beyond research degrees

Some PhD graduates go on to work in academia. They may begin by undertaking postdoctoral research and then a fellowship or lectureship. However, most PhD graduates will ultimately find work outside academia.Other career options will depend on what the PhD was in - commercial research is an option for some, and many are able to use their specialist knowledge and research skills in areas of business and finance. PhD’s may also find work in academic-related departments in academia, or on graduate training schemes. However, it’s likely that career progression will be faster.