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Study abroad : Subject Guides

Insights: Top postgraduate degrees

Selecting the best postgraduate degree for you is a process of research and deliberation. There are numerous factors involved and having the relevant information at hand is key. We give you the rundown on the most popular postgraduate choices.

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There are many reasons why you may be giving studying a postgraduate degree some thought. You might want to augment your academic qualifications to advance your career or perhaps it means you could earn a little bit more.  Then there’s the added element of acquiring new knowledge and skills while contributing to a field of study you’re particularly interested in.  Making a decision about what to study however can cause a few sleepless nights and is likely to require a significant amount of research as well as deliberation. We’re here to help you out as we take a look at some of the most popular postgraduate degrees and what the graduate prospects for these qualifications are.


Health and medicine


Studying a postgraduate degree necessitates the need to delve deeper into a subject and develop a level of expertise in that field. In some cases, it may be absolutely essential in order to pursue a certain career path or be allowed to work as a professional. This is certainly illustrated by the most popular and searched for postgraduate programmes in health and medicine.  In order to practice as a medical professional, be it as a doctor or dentist you’ll need an advanced qualification.


Put into perspective, you’d most certainly want the surgeon operating on you to have a specialised degree to be doing so. An additional aspect that makes health and medicine postgraduate degrees a top choice for many is the employment prospects, with an estimated 97 per cent of graduates in work after graduation. Qualifications in the subject area also tend to be well paid, with medicine topping the graduate earners list.


Business and management


If you’ve thought of yourself as an entrepreneur or have an affinity for all things business-related then the second most popular postgraduate field might be the right fit for you. Subjects in the area of business and management have proven to be extremely well subscribed.


Whether it’s gaining accreditation as an accountant, enhancing crucial management skills or sharpening finance insight, graduates from business-related subject areas have a very good chance of securing work, with figures of employment running at about 92 per cent. If your course or programme focuses on finance then chances are you’ll also have rather positive earning potential, with the specialization ranking second in the best paying careers for graduates.





With a wide variety of specializations on offer and the prospect of working in many different industries, postgraduate qualifications in engineering often come in close to the top of the list for prospective students.  Often, you’ll need to have studied engineering at an undergraduate level in order to qualify, or a very closely related subject. Some of the programmes that receive quite a few applications are in civil, mechanical, chemical, biomedical and aeronautical engineering.  Being armed with a postgraduate engineering qualification undoubtedly enhances employability, with 94 per cent of those graduating with such degrees finding work as well as receiving remuneration sitting in the top ten best-paid fields.


Social studies and media


Another area that has proven to have piqued the interest of students looking to further their studies is in the field of social studies and media. Ranging from traditional social sciences such as sociology and linguistics through to media and social work, you’ll get to grips with some of the important issues facing society and be able to develop your critical thinking skills. Such qualifications can open the door to a variety of careers including advertising, the media, research and marketing.  One of the benefits can be the multifaceted nature of the qualification, meaning you won’t be limited to a single industry from an employment perspective.



Applied and pure sciences

Enquiries, research and applications by students to applied and pure science courses and programmes are also extremely strong. These include subjects such as biology, environmental sciences, mathematics and physics. The range of career prospects, as well as the chance to specialise in a particular area, can prove to be significant motivating factors.


There is also a multidisciplinary nature to many of the degrees making the knowledge gained applicable in a number of contexts. Graduate outcomes for postgraduate degrees in applied and pure sciences are noted as very good, with biological science seeing 87 per cent of graduates employed, veterinary science with a 96 per cent employment score and agriculture at 85 per cent.


Making your choice

There are a number of reasons that may influence what postgraduate subject or programme you choose to pursue. First and foremost, it should be an area of study that you are both interested in and have the requisite aptitude for. It’s likely that you’ll need to have undertaken an undergraduate degree in a similar or compatible area of study. For example, specializing in architecture at a postgraduate level will require you have studied architecture, town planning or engineering undergraduate degree.


A further motivating element to pursuing a postgraduate degree may be the desire to enhance your employability or further your career.  Make sure to do your research and ascertain if this will be the case before making the financial and time investment needed.  Postgraduate study offers you a great opportunity to gain skills, knowledge, challenge yourself, as well as set the trajectory of your career.


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