Postgraduate study: Making an application

Some courses or Universities will require you to apply via the UCAS Postgraduate system. Others ask you to apply directly to the relevant university or training provider. Always check how you need to apply. You can apply for more than one course at the same time.  

Most teacher training applications are made via the GOV.uk website.

Usually, you will need to complete an online application form containing a supporting statement.   

For research-based courses (MRes or PhD) you will also be expected to provide an outline of your research proposal. Discuss your ideas with your tutors, they will give you advice on your suitability, potential research topics and method and timing of your application. You will also need a strong academic reference. 

When to apply

Some courses do not have official closing dates but close once they are full.  Most people apply for postgraduate courses towards the end of Semester 1 or early Semester 2.  Popular courses will close early.  Teacher training applications usually open in October. 

Writing a personal statement

Length

Most applications require a personal statement of up to one side of A4 (about 500 words). Don’t use the same statement for all applications. Each statement will need a different emphasis, depending on the university and course you are applying to, so make sure you check the individual guidance provided by the university about the statement.

Research

Research the university and course/research area. Find out what sets your choice apart from other universities offering courses with similar titles.

Show your commitment

In your statement, you will be expected to prove your commitment and skills concerning the course and your chosen career. Make sure that you answer any questions that are asked.

Structure

Give your statement an introduction, a main body and a conclusion.

Style

Use short paragraphs; concise dynamic sentences and verbs e.g. researched, discovered, concluded, organised.

Check your spelling and grammar

Avoid spelling and grammatical mistakes and make sure your application is tailored to the course/university you are applying to.

Structuring your statement

Introduction

Grab the reader’s attention with your opening paragraph by showing that you have a genuine interest and experience in your particular field. Be as specific as you can in relating what you know about the field, and use the language that professionals use to convey this information. Include any relevant projects or dissertations you have done, any prizes you have won and any relevant travel or employment. Show how this qualification will help you in your chosen career.

Middle section

Why have you chosen this course? Does the course have a particular emphasis or speciality? How did your interest start and what have you learned about this field? How have you gained this insight e.g. via lectures, seminars, research, employment or conversations with academic staff? Why this university? Be specific by detailing what makes the course stand out for you e.g. the expertise or research areas of the academics; Are there specific academic staff you want to do research or study with? What is it about the structure of the course, and/or the choice of modules, that appeals to you?

Concluding your statement

Outline your skills. Demonstrate that you have the specific skills required to succeed in the course by researching the skills that are needed. Give specific examples of how you have developed these skills, e.g. if you need excellent research skills, you could outline how you used a range of sources and checked your results during your dissertation. Provide recent and relevant examples of the skills and commitment required. Close your statement by re-stating your interest and showing that you are keen to discuss your application with them.

More information

Information on our Making Applications section will also be useful in terms of understanding how you identify your skills, write effective examples and are persuasive in your application.