As you start your search for a postgraduate Masters course or PhD, it is important to look at the quantity and quality of facilities dedicated to postgraduate because there can be big variations between universities. Levels of study can vary by subject area, so what can you expect?

Your academic and social needs as a postgraduate student, particularly if undertaking research, won’t be the same as those of undergraduate study and so your priorities and requirements will have changed. If you can, visit the institutions which you are considering to experience the campus and its facilities. Where this is not possible, virtual tours of the facilities are often provided on university websites and these can help you choose a university. Remember that the UK published league tables such as The Good University Guide/ The Sunday Times/ The Guardian don’t focus on money spent on postgraduate facilities so they may not be a good indicator.

Postgraduate Facilities – what can you expect?

Below we give some key facilities often used by postgraduates. Your own priorities will depend on your own subject and personal circumstances. A few questions you may find it helpful to ask for each include:

  • Where are the facilities (do you have to travel a long way to get access)?
  • What are the opening times (labs restricted to weekday/daytime only)?
  • How many students can they accommodate at any one time (overcrowding in Libraries can be a real problem during the exam period)?
  • Does the level of access work for you and how you will be studying (are you a weekend/late night type of scholar)?
  • What opportunities are there to meet, network and work collaboratively with other postgraduates?

Postgraduate Study Space

Outside of your own subject area, are there facilities for the broader postgraduate community, complementing the facilities and services provided by the individual academic School or Department in which you’ll be studying? Universities sometimes have postgraduate only workspaces in their libraries, as well as in other areas of the campus. This could be a reserved area within the general facilities or a bespoke Postgraduate or Graduate Centre.

Postgraduate Social Space

As a postgraduate, it’s clearly ideal if you have the opportunity to meet and socialise with peers from other schools and disciplines in a welcoming and relaxed environment. Opening times of postgraduate common rooms and the facilities will be shared with you when you enroll on your course. Students in modern universities have access to online resources for assignments, submission of work and important news via the intranet, which will help you manage your workload as well as keep up to date with upcoming events, such as research related and social events specifically for postgraduate students.

Graduate School/Doctoral College

Should a University have a Graduate School, the services provided differs from each institution. Postgraduate facilities can include study and social space as well as skills training. Graduate Schools tend to be more for PhD students than Masters but some do provide support to both. They are usually the administrative contact point for the management of students, but may also have or manage postgraduate facilities. Although skills training is not usually part if the course it is an important issue for postgraduates. You can expect skills training and workshops to be provided by a Graduate School or the Employability and Careers Service.


You will use the Library in a different way as a postgraduate student than you did as an undergraduate. Check the library has a stock of publications and, in particular, the journals you will need for your research.


Some universities now provide postgraduate-only accommodation and some also offer accommodation suitable for families and couples for students wishing to bring their families with them while studying. Accommodation for international postgraduates is managed carefully in many cases it forms part of the admissions process, but not every university guarantees this. If you require accommodation, you should contact universities as early as possible.

Employability and Careers Office

Some universities have specialist Careers Advisers for postgraduates and/or PhD students. Look at what dedicated guidance and advice is provided relating to careers, employability and personal effectiveness. Skills training is sometimes offered by the Careers team. Also, take a look at our Focus on Postgraduate Facilities Photo Album on Facebook to see a variety of facilities that universities provide for their postgraduates. If you are already a postgraduate student, you can post your own photos of the postgraduate facilities you use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get a UK Student Visa without IELTS?

It is possible to study in the UK without IELTS.  While IELTS is the most popular  and widely accepted English assessment in the UK there are other ways to prove your proficiency in the language. For instance, if you have attended a ‘English-medium’ school you can show that you are indeed already well-versed in the language. 

Other tests are available such as TOEFL, and Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)

Do EU Students need a visa to study in the UK?

If you are a national of an EU/EEA country and you will be studying in the UK before 31st December 2020 you will not need a visa. However, if you are attending in 2021 you may need to apply for a student visa, and the UK Government has updated the rules as part of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

How to Extend UK Student Visa?

You may have the ability to extend your visa if you are in the UK as a Tier 4 or have an unconditional offer from a course. You may have to prove that you have the funds required to stay in the UK. For more advice look at the UK Government website.