Postgraduate Diploma

By Uni Compare  · Nov 29th 2021

The rise of postgraduate qualifications has seen more and more students look at new qualifications, enter the Postgraduate Diploma.


A Postgraduate diploma has fast become one of the most important tools in a university’s arsenal when it comes to offering postgraduate options.

Back in the 20th century, when university was becoming more and more prevalent, universities didn’t need to worry about the level of qualifications on offer. However, given the rise in popularity in students attending university, universities have begun to offer more specialised qualifications for students to study.

University Postgraduate Diploma

What is a postgraduate diploma?

A postgraduate diploma is the same level of qualification as a master’s degree but takes less time and doesn’t require a dissertation.

Postgraduate diplomas (PGDip), as well as postgraduate certificates, are both seen as level 7 in higher education, following levels 4, 5, and 6 in undergraduate degrees. They delve deeper into the subject and require a higher understanding, meaning they surpass undergraduate bachelor degrees.

They are available in a large variety of subjects making them very attractive in comparison to Master’s degrees which can take one to three years to complete. They’re ideal if a potential employer is looking for postgraduate qualifications or you’re looking to advance your knowledge in a particular subject area, without conducting vast amounts of academic research. There are many different variations of the abbreviations for postgraduate diplomas and postgraduate certificates you might see online:

  • PGDip: You may see this written as PgDip, PG Dip, PGD and PgD.
  • PGCert: This may be displayed as PgCert, PG Cert, PGC and PgC

If a Master’s degree is studied full-time it would take one year to complete, and consist of modules worth a total of 180 credits.

Students can also complete a dissertation or final project and upgrade their postgraduate diploma to a Master’s degree.

Why study a postgraduate diploma?

These courses are popular with students after their Bachelor degrees who are not looking to commit to a full Master’s degree. They are also useful for students looking to add to their student CV, to move career, or want to expand their knowledge. It allows students to attend lectures, seminars and conduct research in a particular subject.

Depending on the course, there may be regular homework and both written and practical assignments. Exams are not common, but again, this depends on individual courses. A Postgraduate Diploma in D may have exams but a Postgraduate Diploma in Development Studies may only have coursework.

They offer the opportunity to obtain a postgraduate qualification without the same time or financial commitment as a full Master’s Degree - which can take up to two years to complete on a full-time basis. They also allow people to change and shift careers at any point in their lives. But if you’re wondering what funding is available for the postgraduate diplomas, find out below.

Uni Postgraduate Diploma

What can I do with a postgraduate diploma?

Postgraduate diplomas allow you to study at level 7, offering a deeper understanding than undergraduate level. It can help with particular job roles, seeking new employment or complement your qualification that you currently hold.

Students can also complete a dissertation or final project and upgrade their postgraduate diploma to a Master’s degree.

How long does it take to study a postgraduate diploma?

You can study a postgraduate diploma either part-time or full-time, with it typically taking two terms to complete (around 30 weeks). A postgraduate certificate takes one term (approximately 15 weeks). Therefore, if you were studying a Postgraduate Diploma in IT it would take around seven months, the same as a postgraduate diploma in Education.

The work will be more advanced than undergraduate courses and feel more intense than in previous university years. However, they are usually available on a full-time or a part-time basis. Students studying part-time could also seek work experience at the same time which will help their understanding of the subject as well as their CV and job prospects.

A Postgraduate Diploma is level 7 at postgraduate level. It is equivalent to two-thirds of a Master’s degree but is still a valid qualification on its own.

How many credits do you need for a postgraduate diploma?

Most universities will list the entry requirements for a postgraduate diploma the same for the equivalent Master’s course. You will most likely require an undergraduate degree of at least 2:1, or better. Some may be allowed with a 2:2, if they have extensive work experience or passed an interview and it is in a relevant subject. It is also important to note that each university and course have varying entry requirements.

A student applying for a postgraduate diploma in Human Nutrition might not need previous employment, but a postgraduate diploma in Legal Practice may differ and need experience in the field. However, universities may make admission decisions on a case-by-case basis so it is always best to check with the institution.

Postgraduate Diploma

What is a postgraduate diploma equivalent to?

It is level 7 at postgraduate level. It is equivalent to two-thirds of a Master’s degree but is still a valid qualification on its own.

As universities tend to offer both qualifications it is easy to switch courses. If students find they cannot complete the dissertation during their nursing Master’s degree, they can speak to their tutor regarding the possibility of instead leaving with a Postgraduate Diploma in Nursing. It also works the other way around, if you are studying a Postgraduate Diploma in Law but want to write a dissertation or final project there may be the option to take the third term and upgrade the PGDip to a Master’s. Always find out with your institution if this is available.

What is the difference between postgraduate diploma and master degree?

A postgraduate diploma is the same level as a Master’s degree, there is just a dissertation or final project that separates them. For a Master’s degree, students will complete either a large dissertation or research project, or even a final practical piece related to their course - the nature of this will depend on the degree and subject. However, a postgraduate diploma in Psychology, as an example, will not have the dissertation or final project.

A PGDip is just as challenging and will feature the same level of understanding and commitment as a Master’s degree. In most cases, they will have the same modules, assignments and ability.

As a postgraduate diploma takes two terms to complete and a Master’s degree full-time typically requires three terms, the PDGip is usually the same course without the student completing the final third term (which is where pupils tend to write their dissertation).

A postgraduate diploma is the same level of qualification as a master’s degree but takes less time and doesn’t require a dissertation.

What is the difference between postgraduate diploma and postgraduate certificate?

A postgraduate diploma is longer than a postgraduate certificate, meaning it’ll take more time to complete. The PGDip is also worth more credits than the PGCert.

How much does a postgraduate diploma cost?

Although fees vary depending on the subject and university, a postgraduate diploma tends to be cheaper than a Master’s degree due to them being shorter. The average price of a postgraduate diploma is around £5,000 for the UK and the European Union (EU) students.

Although they are cheaper, there are less funding options available for pupils on a PGDip or PGCert, as many scholarships are available for the Master’s degree version of the subject.

However, your university may offer discounts for alumni or employer sponsorship.

As the UK has since left the European Union as part of Brexit, the cost of postgraduate diplomas abroad have since become more expensive, so you will need to keep an eye on rising costs as the years go by.