Great Britain is very popular as a place of study, since a large number of Greek students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level attend a Higher institution there. The reasons for choosing Great Britain to study at a graduate level are many. As a start, it is the recognition of the majority of degrees of British universities, the wide variety of degree schemes, reduced fees for EU students, free medical and hospital care and finally the widespread knowledge of the English language in Greece.
The academic education system in Great Britain is based on approximately 160 state universities that offer undergraduate studies and postgraduate degrees in all areas. In 1992 the British government decided that the then polytechnics be renamed Universities, which make up about 50% of the current institutions. Some universities are divided in colleges, such as the University of London consists of approximately 50 Colleges and Institutes, the University of Cambridge, which consists of 31 Colleges and the University of Wales. The University of Buckingham is the only private academic institution but is recognized by the state.
TYPES OF GRADUATE PROGRAMMES
Applicants for postgraduate studies in Great Britain can choose among a large number of graduate programmemes leading to Diplomas or Degrees:
Taught Diploma (PgD)
Master (MSc-Master of Science, MEng.- Master of Engineering, MA-Master of Arts, MBA-Master in Business Administration, LLM-Master in Law)
Master of Philosophy (M.Phil)
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D., D.Phil)
The normal duration for the Master’s degree is 12 months. The academic year begins in October and ends in September. The first nine months include teaching, seminars and exams. The remaining three months are dedicated to preparing the thesis (dissertation) which is mandatory. Regarding the MBA programmemes, they primarily require two years of study.
Apart from the graduate programmemes that require coursework (taught Masters), Master titles are awarded after research, instead of courses, and submission of thesis (research Masters). The title awarded does not specify the method of study followed.
The MPhil degrees (Master of Philosophy) are a preliminary step to the doctorate (PhD). They have duration of two years, they are research-based, and they are considered of higher academic standards than other Master degrees. The PhD takes 3-4 years and is based on original scientific research published as a thesis and forms the basis on which the candidate is assessed. They do not normally require coursework but the applicant carries out a research under the supervision of a teacher who monitors their progress.
As well as the type of qualification you will need to decide the mode of study that suits you and your circumstances best. The more flexible you are able to be, the greater the choice of course you will have, as some courses may be available in only one study mode.
Full time and part time study is common for both taught and research postgraduate degrees, but what these terms mean can vary between universities, and even between courses and departments in a single university.
If a course is described as full-time, this could mean that you are required to be present from 9am to 5pm or equivalent every week-day. This is possible for some PhDs, particularly in the sciences. Other full-time courses could provide a set number of hours teaching or contact time per week, and expect a substantial amount of self-directed study in addition: this is more common for Masters programmemes.
Typically, postgraduate courses are studied full time by students who are continuing with study following a first degree, or who have decided to make a specific investment by giving up work or taking a career break and studying full time in order to complete the course as quickly as possible via a concentrated period of study.
Part-time study can be ideal if you want to continue working, but not all part-time courses are timetabled to be taken in the evenings or on specific, regular days each week. For some courses, however, for example those offering a wide range of optional modules, it may not be possible to timetable courses in this way.
If you are an international student, unless you are already living in the UK and are not dependent on your study to continue doing so, you may find you cannot get a visa to attend a part-time programmeme where study takes place for less than a specific number of hours each week.
One solution to this, which is sometimes offered by Universities offering professionally-related part-time courses, is to provide tuition in teaching 'blocks'. This usually means that teaching is provided in a set number of short periods of time, for example on set weekends, or over a number of five-day periods. International students are then more likely to be able to undertake the course, and this method can also be used for students in the UK who want to continue working, as these periods of time are known in advance, can be planned for and may be easier to negotiate support for with employers.
Many British universities offer a large part of their graduate programmemes at a distance learning mode. In the case of distance learning, each university has a different way of programmeme organisation and schedule in terms of teaching, duration, fees, ways of assessment and so on. More information can be found in the International Centre for Distance Learning website – http://icdl.open.ac.uk and the Open University –http://www.open.ac.uk
What universities offer part-time postgraduate students
Part-time postgraduate students often find that they are less integrated into the life of the institution than full-time students, but if you are combining study with work, and don't expect the full student experience, this may not be such an important factor for you. If it is important, it could be helpful to ask the Department you plan to join, and/or the Graduate School office, how part-time students are integrated and what is on offer for them.
Opportunities for work
Some part-time doctoral students are offered the opportunity of part-time employment at the University whilst studying for a part-time PhD. This can appear very attractive for many obvious reasons, but you should be careful to ensure that the hours you work on a part-time job are clearly agreed in advance and adhered to, both by yourself and by the department, to leave you enough time for your PhD. This is particularly important if your paid work takes place in the same department or lab where you are studying, where the boundaries need to be clearly and carefully drawn.
Both part time and full time study in a Department can also offer opportunities for work, including as a teaching or laboratory assistant for undergraduate courses and students. It is important that you are not required by the Department to take this kind of work if you do not wish to, and that it does not encroach too much on your studies.
The majority of the UK Universities graduate programmemes is recognised by the equivalent and corresponding degree schemes by the Hellenic National Agency for the Recognition and Comparison of International qualifications and skills (Hellenic NARIC - DOATAP). However, especially for distance learning degree schemes, the applicant should contact the agency to verify the recognition of such a degree conferred under a distance learning mode of study.
Entry requirements for postgraduate students
An important question every potential postgraduate student will ask is ‘What are the entry requirements for my chosen postgraduate programme and will I have the qualifications to be offered a place on the programme?’
Qualifications are important, of course, but universities make their decisions about whom to accept onto their postgraduate programmes on a range of factors. Some of these entry requirements will be formal educational qualifications that you either have or expect to have, but others will include your English language skills, and what is said about you in the references that you provide. Others will depend on the university’s judgment about whether it can provide you with a suitable programme. So, for example, many postgraduate programmes will have quotas – a maximum number of students that can be accepted on to the programme, which is affected by the number of teaching staff available and the teaching resources such as computers and library resources that are provided.
In addition, it will also depend whether your individual specialist needs can be met. For example, if you are applying to do a Doctorate it will depend whether the department you are applying to has a member of academic staff who can supervise your research project.
Whatever the postgraduate programme you want to apply for you will need to have, or expect to get before you join the course, a first or Bachelor’s degree of a good standard. If you want a place on a Doctoral programme you will probably also need, or expect to have, a Master’s degree of a good standard.
Every country in the world has its own school system, higher education and academic qualifications, and while there are very many similarities between the systems, each is unique in detail. One of the issues in higher education is that the title and academic level of first-degree qualifications varies between countries, and in some ways an academic qualification is like currency for international travellers – the currency has to be acceptable in the country where you want to spend it, and it will have a value which reflects the international exchange rate.
When universities in the UK indicate that they require a good first degree as an entry qualification to a Master’s degree what they really mean is either a degree from a UK higher education institution or a qualification from another country that is at the same level and standard. So, the key thing is to know whether your degree is seen as equivalent in standard to a British first degree.
There are two parts to this.
The first is whether the level of your qualification is equivalent to a British Bachelor’s degree at Honours level.
The second is the level of your final achievement in that qualification.
Many countries now assess their degrees using grade point averages (GPAs), which is the average score achieved across all the courses within the degree programme. While there is now some early discussion about whether British universities should use the same system, they currently use a degree classification system. This means that the final degree a student is awarded is graded as follows:
• A first class honours degree is the highest level of achievement, normally representing an overall mark of at least 70%.
• An upper second class honours degree (usually called a 2:1 – ‘a two-one’) represents an overall mark of more than 60%.
• A lower second class honours degree (usually called a 2:2 – ‘a two-two’) represents an overall mark of 50%.
• A third class honours degree normally represents an overall mark of 40%.
• A pass degree normally represents an overall mark of 35%.
To be accepted on to a Master’s programme you will normally need the equivalent of at least a lower second class honours degree, and for popular and competitive programmes this will normally have to be at least an upper second class honours degree. To be accepted on to a Doctoral programme you will normally need to have a Master’s degree already, although exceptionally a student with an excellent Bachelor’s degree may be accepted.
Most postgraduate degree programmes do not require you to have professional experience as well as academic qualifications. However, in some fields, such as Medicine, Education, Social Work or Business, you will normally be expected to have between two and five years of experience in your profession before entering a Master’s programme. This is because the programme is focused in part on practice, and is regarded as both a higher degree and as a postgraduate professional development programme.
English language expertise
All degree programmes in the UK are taught in English. This means that you will need to be able to show that you have a good enough knowledge of English to be able to understand and follow the programme, to be able to read academic literature in English and to be able to write your assignments and dissertation/thesis with an acceptable standard of English.
There are normally four indicators that show you have an acceptable standard of English language:
• If you come from a country where English is the everyday language, and where the education system operates in English, for example Australia, Jamaica, most of Canada.
• If you have completed your first degree at a university in which the language of teaching is English, for example if you are a student from China who has completed their first degree at a university in Australia or the United States.
• If you attend an interview for the programme and can demonstrate that your spoken and written English is of a high enough standard.
• If you have a formal qualification in English language that meets the minimum standard the university requires.
For most international applicants it is the fourth of these that is the usual way of showing English language competence. Each university sets its own minimum standards, so you will need to find out from the university website or from their prospectus what those standards are.
However, there are some common standards used by most universities and these are minimum levels achieved in recognised international tests of English language ability.
A good personal statement
To apply for a place on a postgraduate programme you will need to fill in an application form for each university. Most universities include on their form a section in which you are asked to make a personal statement about why you are applying for the course and why you feel you are a good applicant for the programme. This will be read carefully by the admissions tutor for the programme, particularly where there is strong competition for places on the programme.
You will need to show in this statement that you have a good academic record, that you are a well-motivated, well-organised and hard-working student, and that you have good reasons for wanting to do the course. It will also be a way in which the admissions tutor checks your standard of written English. The things you should write about in your personal statement therefore are:
• Your own academic achievements.
• Your special academic interests.
• Why you want to take the postgraduate programme you are applying for.
• What you will contribute to the programme.
• If you are applying for a Master’s programme, then explain what you think at this stage you might want to study for your dissertation.
Spend time drafting and redrafting this statement and ask somebody else to check your English and comment on what you have written.
You will be asked on the application form to give the details of two or three people who can write a reference about you that supports your application. The important thing is to check first how the university you are applying to organises references, and follow their requirements.
One of the most common reasons for a university not being able to send you an offer of a place quite quickly is that referees take a long time to send back their references. It is a good idea, therefore, to ask your referees well in advance so they can prepare a reference ready for when they are asked to provide it, and to politely remind them to respond to a request quite quickly. If you know that one of your referees will be away on leave or on sabbatical, then you may prefer to choose somebody else to be your referee.
Who should you ask to be your referee? They need to be people who can write about you as a student and about your academic achievements. Most applicants choose two people from the university where they studied their first degree or, if they are applying for a research degree, their Master’s degree.
If it is some time since you were at university you should still use one referee from your university, but you might want to choose a second referee who has known you well since then. This needs to be somebody who can comment on your skills and intellectual ability and make a judgment about whether you will cope well with a masters or doctoral degree. Your employer might be fine, particularly if he or she is a senior professional and either has a higher degree or understands the nature of postgraduate degrees. Do not, however, use family or personal friends since their judgment will not be seen as objective.
A good research proposal
In many academic disciplines, if you apply to join a doctoral programme you will be applying to undertake a research project that has already been chosen by the department you are joining. A research proposal is simply an outline of what you intend to do for your research, and will include:
1 A proposed title or subject for the research
2 Some background and context to explain why this is an important topic to research
3 A suggestion for the research methodology you will use, and how you plan to organise your research. This might include some idea of what data you need to collect, how you will collect the data and how you might analyse the results.
It will normally be 1,000–2,000 words in length.
Source: Postgraduate Study in the UK: The International Student's Guide by Nicholas and Rosalind Foskett
There is no official ranking for universities. Only individual research departments of universities are evaluated at regular intervals through the RAE agency (Research Assessment Exercise - http://www.rae.ac.uk ). Although these results are important, they focus solely on the research activity of the teaching staff, so that they form one of the many criteria of quality of graduate programmes and not the only university selection criterion.
The QAA body (The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education), provide on their website references for the teaching of each UK University http://www.qaa.ac
Postgraduate fees in the UK vary massively depending on the type of course, where you are from and a myriad of other factors. Many students therefore get confused about how much a postgraduate degree will cost them, what their course fees include and even how they can pay their fees. So here at Postgrad.com, we’ve condensed all the information you need about average postgraduate fees in the UK down to one page.
Here are four of our most frequently asked questions about postgraduate fees in the UK, which hopefully will help you on your way to applying for your postgraduate degree.
The cost of your postgraduate program depends on two main factors, what country you come from and what sort of course you are doing.
How much you pay in postgraduate tuition fees largely depends on where you are from and what you are studying. As the UK government subsidises part of postgraduate fees through the Higher Education Funding Council, postgraduate fees are slightly lower for British students in British universities. However in accordance with EU directives that require the UK government to treat UK and EU students equally, students from EU students also pay this lower ‘home’ fee.
Yet there are still some ways for overseas students to escape their overseas premium and pay home student fees. You can find a detailed summary of the conditions here, but the most common exceptions are:
• You have been a permanent resident and settled in the UK for at least 3 years (and the main purpose of this residence was not for education).
• You have been granted refugee status.
• Those who have applied for asylum (including those not recognised by still granted ‘Humanitarian Protection’).
Type of Course
Another factor that massively affects how much your fees will be is what type of course you study. The first major distinction is if you are studying a ‘research’ postgraduate degree or a ‘taught’ postgraduate degree (with taught being more expensive because you are charged for the price of your teaching). Within these two categories, there is usually a differentiation between arts/humanities subjects based in the classroom (cheaper) and science subjects based in the laboratory (more expensive). Specialised degrees like MBAs also tend to be more expensive.
Remember to take the length of your degree into account. PhDs and masters programs may seem to have similar or the same costs at first but a PhD usually lasts three years, so you are paying three times the cost of a master’s degree. For the same reason, part-time courses can sometimes work out more expensive.
To give you some idea of tuition fees, here is a table examining how postgraduate fees at Durham University vary according to status and course (prices are per year):
Home & EU
Research Course - Classroom
Research Course - Laboratory
Taught Course - Classroom
Taught Course - Laboratory
(Source: Durham University)
Durham University is an elite UK university - it is in fact a member of the UK’s highly prestigious Russell Group of universities, so their prices tend to err towards the more expensive side for overseas students.
On average UK fees for overseas postgraduates are:
(Source: Universities UK: International Student Fee Survey 2011)
What it is covered
Charges levelled on you by your university usually cover most of your costs, including tuition and use of university resources. Although details vary between institutions, your money usually goes towards paying your teachers (in the case of taught courses), maintaining resources you will draw upon (such as libraries or laboratories) and other miscellaneous costs.
What it isn’t included in the course fees
You maybe be expected to pay additional fees if you study a resource intensive course (especially in sciences). Laboratory fees are not uncommon and can come in anywhere from £100 to £1,000 per year. Also course fees often do not include other necessary items such as textbooks, equipment for fieldwork and other items that add up in price.
Scholarships for international students looking to study in the UK are numerous, but also highly competitive. This shouldn’t deter you from applying to a scholarship scheme, however, and if you are unsuccessful you can always seek alternative postgraduate funding options.
The good news is that scholarships for graduate study in the UK are generally more widely available than undergraduate UK scholarships. While opportunities are sometimes offered by external organisations and foreign government schemes, the majority of graduate scholarships for international students are offered by individual UK universities, the British government and via the EU (e.g. Erasmus+).
Almost all UK universities offer opportunities to gain funding, which are worth looking into. The amount you may be eligible for depends on where and what you choose to study, as well as your current financial situation. Types of support include full studentships with additional grants for maintenance and housing, bursaries for those in particular financial need, and paid teaching or research assistant positions – the latter are especially common for students at PhD level. Awards of up to UK£3,000 for high-achieving students are also available from some institutions. To find these opportunities, you should visit the website of the university you’re interested in attending, and search for information about funding for graduate study which is open to international students.
Some of the most important institutions/organisations that offer scholarships mainly for postgraduate studies are the following:
British Chevening Scholarships
The UK government provides scholarships every year, mainly for postgraduate studies lasting one year, for foreign students studying in England. Since April 2012, the Chevening scholarships are administered by the institution Chevening Scholarships Secretariat. Information can be found on the website http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/about-us/what-we-do/scholarships/
Research Councils and British Academy
The Research Councils of Great Britain such as the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC-http://www.esrc.ac.uk) or the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC–http://www/epsrc.ac.uk) and the British Academy (http://www.britac.ac.uk) they offer a limited number of scholarships that usually cover the tuition fees for EU students.
For many departments, especially science and technology, funding is provided by private companies and governmental organisations in specific research subjects. Information is given directly by the departments. On the http://www.jobs.ac.uk/jobs/phd website you can find such opportunities, within doctoral programmes (PhD studentships).
The university grants (institutional scholarships) are usually provided based on academic criteria. It is possible to request evaluation of the academic knowledge of the candidate through tests, interviews or written reports. It is important to know the exact date of applying for these scholarships. The deadlines are usually in April, June or July. The management of the grants is through the main University scholarship office or most of the times by a particular faculty or department of the University. Relevant information can be found on the website of each university.
As UK university fees do not generally include accommodation and living costs, you’ll have to make sure that you budget for how much living in the UK will cost you, which in some cases can be more than the fee for your actual degree.
Cost of Living
The UK may seem cheap or expensive to you depending on where you are from, and certainly within the UK itself some parts of the country are considerably cheaper than others. Many students clamour for a general idea of how much they will be spending per week in living costs, but this is extremely difficult to estimate because people live completely different lives. While some people are practically hermits who keep their living costs down by never leaving the comfort of their own home, others are reckless spenders. There are also vast price differences between the north and south in the UK, especially when comparing London to other areas. However as a starting point this table should you a general estimate on what the cost of living general is in the UK.
Typical weekly costs for a postgraduate student
Weekly rental costs
If you are an international student then you should definitely consider the costs of travelling to and from your home country in your overall living costs. Flights can sometimes total up to thousands of pounds, which is certainly a pain on a student budget. Consider limiting the amount of travel you do for the duration of your degree if you want to save money - even if it is difficult to be away from home.
WORKING IN THE UK
Students from EU countries can work without restrictions on the number of hours or the type of work they do. But it is necessary to issue the National Insurance (NI) Number, for which you have to pay a certain amount of money and it is issued by the local Benefits Agency office.