How do you go about finding a postgraduate course or research programme at a UK university? With so much choice available, it isn't surprising that some people don't know where to start looking. The most important thing to do is to think very carefully about what it is you want to get out of your study. This will depend upon your interests, your experiences and your long-term ambitions. Only you can make the right choice but you should get as much advice and assistance as possible. If you are currently at university, talk to your tutors and, if appropriate, careers advisors.
You should also contact the British Council, which offers advice and information for anyone considering coming to the UK. Talk to your family and friends. If possible, talk to people who have already studied in the UK.
Exhibitions and fairs
UK universities attend exhibitions all over the world. The Postgraduate Study Fair in UCC is organised by the Careers Service each spring. Keep a check on the Events section of the website for further details. With so many exhibitors and so many students attending, it is important to prepare carefully before you attend an education exhibition. Make sure that you know exactly what you want to ask. Write down your questions in advance and make a note of the answers. Each university's prospectus and any additional information on your chosen subject area will be available online on each institution website.
When you are clear about the subject you wish to study, you need to find out which universities offer the courses or research programmes you are interested in. The best place to start your search is at www.prospects.ac.uk/pgdbase You can also find details of all courses in Prospects Postgraduate Directory available in the Careers Service Information Centre.
The online database provides more information per entry and also allows you to search for postgraduate programmes by subject of study, institution, qualification and keyword. Each entry includes a description of the course or research opportunity, information on the duration of the course and the number of students plus a section with information relevant to international students. E-mail links mean that you can contact with course providers directly.
In addition to postgraduate opportunities, the British Council's www.educationuk.org site includes information on boarding school and college education plus English language, career-based, and undergraduate programmes. The site also has a link to the English in Britain website where you can search accredited institutions offering relevant English language courses.
You can find out about student welfare, application processes and visa arrangements. The site will also point you to your nearest British Council office. Once you've got what you need from the website, click on the relevant link to contact the British Council. Your local office will have a wide range of books, directories, brochures, guides, prospectuses and CD-ROMs that you can use.