Embarking on a course of postgraduate study can be daunting when you are applying from overseas.
However, diligent research will make sure you have all the information you need to be successful.
Our blog post aims to give you a brief overview of what is expected of you both academically and in terms of English proficiency, and how you should apply for your course if English is not your first language.
All British universities accept International English Language Testing System (IELTS) results, which helps to standardise the application process.
Each university will have its own individual language requirements, and you should check these with your chosen place of study.
As a general rule you are looking at a score of 5.5 overall, and individual competencies in reading, writing, speaking and listening.
For example, the University of Manchester requires an overall score of 7 for many courses with not less than 5.5 in any component, and a TOEFL iBT (Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based Test) score of 100 for some courses, including English language and literature subjects.
Usually, you will be required to hold a suitable undergraduate degree for postgraduate level study in the UK.
If you’re unsure about whether you are suitable for a Masters course, or you don’t have the relevant academic qualifications, some UK universities offer pre-Masters courses to give you the opportunity to acquire skills which will help you in your studies.
These are often offered to international students to give them the chance to acquire the research skills that will be expected of them, and to help with their standard of academic English.
Pre-Masters courses include Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) courses, Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) and Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) qualifications.
If you are a mature student, or returning to study after a gap year, then you may have relevant workplace qualifications or experience which will qualify you for entry onto a Masters course.
There may be tests related to your field of study in addition to any existing qualifications you have.
Unrelated to your academic qualifications or proficiency in English, your chosen institution may require proof that you are able to fund your studies.
You will normally apply for UK universities through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, or UCAS.
Some institutions will allow you to apply directly, but UCAS Postgraduate enables you to manage your applications more efficiently through a centralised system.
Your first step should be to research your field of study, and which UK universities offer a course of suitable postgraduate qualification.
If you have any questions about the application process or the level of IELTS proficiency the university requires, now is the time to contact them and confirm exactly what they are looking for.
If the university allows direct applications, then you will be able to apply online at this point. Otherwise, you should submit your UCAS application online at ucas.com.
You will almost certainly need a reference from a former academic supervisor at this point, so make sure you either have this to hand, or can ask someone to write a reference for you.
UCAS will check and send your application, and you will receive offers shortly after this. You will also find out at this point whether you will have to demonstrate your English proficiency.
Once your place is confirmed, you will need to arrange a visa, and make sure that your financing is in place. Then all you need to do is arrange accommodation and look forward to starting your course!
Enthusiasm and hard work are the most important things you can bring to a university and its course, which you can demonstrate in your personal statement.
Rather than something to be dreaded, this is your chance to show who you really are; proofread it well – for grammar and spelling (don’t just rely on Spell Checker!)– and if you can, get a native English speaker to look at it for you.
Research the area you’ll be living and studying in online so that you feel confident in your home for the duration of your course.
Prepare as much as possible, so you will be able to enjoy your postgraduate study as soon as you start.