Master's education in the UK

Higher education in the United Kingdom

Master's education in the UK

The United Kingdom is one of the most multicultural societies in Europe. People from all over the world come to obtain a postgraduate degree and enjoy the freedom to explore new ideas. 

British universities are ranked among the best in the world with higher education establishments such as Oxford and Cambridge being renowned for their academic excellence. Besides traditional universities, British education also enjoys popularity, because most universities tend to have a family-like atmosphere due to small courses so that students and teachers are able to form a tight-knit community. Personalised mentoring is at the top of the agenda, so that you can fully enjoy your experience as a postgraduate student in the UK.

In addition to universities, you can also choose courses from a variety of colleges. Before applying, make sure you get an overview of the Postgraduate Courses on , the search engine of the British council  or study choice portals such as .

Master's programme variety

Master's courses in the UK are commonly divided into ‘taught’ and ‘research’ master's. Full-time study master's courses are generally one to two years in length. Part-time study on the other hand lasts two to four years. The academic year normally runs from September until August, while some courses may also start in January or February.

Taught Master's

Taught master's degrees usually have a similar structure to undergraduate degrees. Lectures, seminars and practical work will not only boost your skill set, but also your prospects in the job market. If you are interested in scheduled classes and communication with lecturers and other students, then a taught degree might be for you.

Research Master's

Research Master's may be best described as ‘learning by doing’. That means, a research Master's mostly consists of an independent project, which will later on enable you to carry out doctoral research. While you are working on your research, you will receive on-going support from lecturers and tutors.

Application requirements and admission

Most postgraduate courses do not have formal closing dates for applications; however, applicants are normally advised to apply as early as possible, because most universities operate on a first come, first served basis. International students, however, have to apply early because an unconditional offer is required for the visa-application as well as scholarships.

When wanting to apply for a master’s degree in the UK you should hold a good first degree with minimum second class honours. Equivalent qualifications and relevant professional and educational experiences are of course also taken into consideration. Exact requirements though may vary between different institutions and courses, which is why you should always check the relevant details.

How to apply?

If you have decided on a course, then you must directly apply to your chosen university or college. Each institution has its own application process and forms. Applications can usually be made online where you can download an application pack.

In the application you normally need to outline the following:

  • Motivation for applying
  • Academic qualification
  • Skills and experience
  • Research degrees: research proposal

There is no limit to the number of applications you can make.

Tuition Fees for Master's courses in the UK

Money is one of the biggest concerns for students entering postgraduate education in the UK. In comparison with other universities in Europe, tuition fees in the UK are rather high. Tuition fee status generally depends on the country of residence. So-called ‘home’ and EU-students normally pay the same amount of fees, while international students have to expect fees at the higher end of the spectrum. However, there are several scholarships, student loans and grants for students at postgraduate level which can help you with expenses.

Depending on the postgraduate programme you choose, you have to expect tuition fees ranging from £4,000 to £9,250. The fees mainly depend on the institution and the type of master's programme you choose to study.

International students from outside the European Union

As an international student you will have to expect to pay much higher tuition fees. The average fee is around £13,840, while some specialist degrees might amount up to £40,000 per year. Here, the tuition fees also vary depending on the institution and the master's course you choose to study.

Student life in a diverse student community

During your studies you have a variety of options to have an exciting social life. Most universities have a wealth of clubs, free sports and societies. This way, you are able to continually make new friends, network and start or continue hobbies.

Outside of university, British towns and cities have a lot to offer. Go out to explore historic city centres, the British country side or the lively night life. With various nightclubs, live music venues, cinemas, restaurants, bars, shops and museums you will never get bored. 


Whilst studying, a wide range of accommodation is available to you. Most students either live in university owned halls of residence, while others live in private housing with flatmates.

Halls are either mixed or single sex and include a variety of single, en-suite or twin rooms. Halls tend to be self-catered with some providing cleaning service for communal areas. Accommodation fees in halls tend to vary, depending on the city, institution and of course room type. However, all these fees include heating, lighting and water costs, which means, you do not have to worry about any additional costs.

If you want to live in private housing, such as flats, shared houses or lodgings, instead, accommodation offices of most universities will be able to help you find the right option and to make an informed choice.

Further reading

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