What is a Postgraduate Diploma?

Ben Maples  · Jan 8th 2024  · 5 min

The rise of postgraduate qualifications has seen more and more students look at new qualifications. Qualifications such as the Postgraduate Diploma are becoming increasingly popular because of the flexibility they give students.


A postgraduate diploma is a low-cost alternative to a full postgraduate degree. Given the rise in popularity of 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 a postgraduate qualification. This is a qualification that is the same level of study as a Master’s degree, but does not require students to write a dissertation or final project and is generally shorter.

A postgraduate diploma (PgDip) is often confused with a PgCert. Though both of these qualifications are considered to be “mini masters”, they are slightly different. A PgDip takes around 30 weeks to complete, while a PgCert takes around 15. A PgDip is also worth more credits than a PgCert.

Why study a postgraduate diploma?

A PgDip is for those who are not looking to commit to a full postgraduate degree after their undergraduate degree. Depending on the course, there may be regular homework and both written and practical assignments. Exams are not common this also depends on individual diploma courses.

A postgraduate diploma may have exams but a postgraduate diploma in Development Studies may only have coursework. A PgDip offers the opportunity to obtain a postgraduate qualification without the same time or financial commitment as a full Master’s Degree.

What can I do with a postgraduate diploma?

The beauty of a PgDip, is that you have more options than most other postgraduate options! 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 complementing the qualification that you currently hold.

The PgDip can be upgraded to a full Master’s as well. If you decide to complete a dissertation or final project, then you will have your qualification fully upgraded to a Master’s qualification. A PgDip also has a slightly different formula than most postgraduate qualifications. With a PgDip, you can attend networking events and seminars to meet industry professionals, something that most universities do not offer their postgraduate students. This is an excellent way to gain a foothold in the industry and to meet potential employers.

Uni Postgraduate Diploma

Is a PgDip higher than a PgCert?

A PgDip is, generally, considered to be more advanced than a bachelor’s degree or a PgCert. A PgDip is worth 120 credits, while a PgCert is worth only 60 to complete.

How long does it take to study a postgraduate diploma?

You can study a postgraduate diploma either part-time or full-time. It will typically take two terms to complete, usually around 30 weeks. A postgraduate certificate takes one term (approximately 15 weeks).

The work will be more advanced than undergraduate courses and feel more intense than previous university years. This is due to more advanced study, but also the amount of work you’ll undertake with a final project or dissertation.

What is a postgraduate diploma equivalent to?

It is level 7 at postgraduate level, equivalent to two-thirds of a Master’s degree. There may be the option to take the third term and upgrade the PGDip to a Master.’s. As universities tend to offer both qualifications, it is easy to switch courses. If students find they cannot complete the dissertation during their Master’s degree, they can speak to their tutor regarding the possibility of instead leaving with a postgraduate diploma.

Can I switch courses?

Yes, you are able to switch courses. Most universities tend to offer the same subjects for a masters, a PgDip and a PgCert level. This also makes it easier to change your qualification as well.

Strangely enough, you can also be awarded either a PgCert or a PgDip if you leave your Master’s course early. Provided you have met the credit requirements, of course.

How do I choose a course?

Choosing a university course can be tough, regardless of what qualification you're applying for. Our best advice is to consider what is the most important thing for you and then take the decision from there.

Consider what elements of a course or subject most appeal to you. The course content, the employment prospects, the fees and funding and the teaching standards are all things to consider before you make your choice.

Postgraduate Diploma

How many credits do you need for a postgraduate diploma?

Most universities will list their entry requirements for a postgraduate diploma on their website or through UCAS. 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.

Prior experience may also be important, but only for certain subjects. For example, 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.

How much does a postgraduate diploma cost?

Although fees vary depending on the subject and university, a postgraduate diploma is usually cheaper than a Master’s degree. The reason for the PgDip being cheaper than a Master’s degree is that a PgDip is shorter than a Master’s and requires fewer resources or contact hours.

The average price of a postgraduate diploma is between £5,000 and £7,000. However, your university may offer discounts for alumni or employer sponsorship. As the UK has since left the European Union, the cost of postgraduate diplomas abroad has since become more expensive, so you will need to keep an eye on rising costs as the years go by.

postgraduate Uni's

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