We use cookies to improve the experience and engagement you have of our website, these are currently blocked. Would you like to allow cookies? To find out more about our cookies, see our Privacy Policy. Please note that if you do not allow cookies you may not be able to view all the content on this website. Allow Cookies

Types of postgraduate courses: vocational

Vocational qualifications are much more career-focused than academic qualifications. They have a very clear professional end goal.

Conversion Courses

Conversion courses are postgraduate qualifications which allow you to convert to a new subject area at the end of your degree. These are particularly useful for students who have changed their mind about their intended career during university. For example, if a geography student were to decide that they wanted to pursue a career in law, they would need to apply for a conversion course.

A conversion course will bring your specific skills and knowledge up to speed with a certain sector, effectively bridging the gap between your undergraduate degree and your desired job. They usually take a year to complete, and are often taught at a higher education institution. Popular conversion subjects include law, property, psychology, IT and science. If possible, it is best to find a course which is accredited by a professional body.

Postgraduate Certificates

A postgraduate certificate is worth 60 academic credits (equivalent to a third of a Master’s degree). These courses give students very specific knowledge of a particular subject or area without having to commit to more lengthy studies. They usually take around four months to complete, and can provide the professional kudos needed for a specific career.


Diplomas can be studied in nearly every subject. They are equivalent to about two thirds of a Master’s, i.e. 120 credits, and will take about nine months to complete. Often taken as a type of conversion course, two of the more popular diplomas are the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and the Graduate Diploma in Psychology (GDP). These are designed for graduates who didn’t study an accredited law or psychology degree, but who now wish to become a solicitor, barrister, or psychologist. These diplomas put the student on equal footing with someone with a first degree in the subject.