Some different types of postgraduate study 

Postgraduate Certificates and Diplomas (PgCert/Dip) - 9 months to 1 year, often combining a theoretical background with practical/vocational preparation for a particular career, such as teaching or librarianship. A relevant degree is not always a requirement, so this route offers scope to graduates wishing to change direction. However, some courses ask for relevant experience. On completion of a dissertation some diploma courses also award a Masters degree. 

Taught Higher Degrees - Masters (MSc/MA/MPhil/MRes) - Most are full time taught courses, normally lasting one calendar year, although there are some part time and distance learning courses. A good honours degree (usually a minimum 2:1) is often required, sometimes in the same subject area. These courses usually consist of course work and a dissertation. Some courses build on first degree work (e.g. an MPhil in Modern Poetry would require a first degree in English), while others are more vocational (e.g. MSc in Environmental Management).

Higher Degrees by Research - Masters (MSc/MA/MPhil) and Doctorates (PhD/DPhil) - These involve in-depth study of an academic subject, usually linked to your first degree subject. It normally takes 1-2 years for a Masters and 3 or more for a doctorate (PhD). Usually, a 2:1 or 1st honours degree is required for entry. Some PhDs may require that a Masters degree is completed first, but may allow work from the Masters to be incorporated into the PhD, helping reduce the length of study

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