The postgraduate bible

Decided to stay on and study? Here' s our essential survival kit
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The Independent Online

On course

When you applied to your undergraduate course, the UCAS system made everything easy. When you apply for postgraduate courses, you've got to put in the legwork yourself.

But help is out there. Tutors and lecturers at your current university or college can offer pearls of wisdom, as can the Prospects website, the UCAS website and the Hobsons website. If you're keen to stay in education, the perfect course for you is out there. It just takes a little looking and asking.

www.prospects.ac.uk; www.ucas.com; www.postgrad.hobsons.com

Apply yourself

Applications for postgraduate courses go to the institutions directly and each university or college has a separate application system. This means you must visit an individual university and college, or scour their websites, for more information - which requires a fair amount of research. Look on each as an application form for a job: invest time and take care. And above all, know what you're applying to.

Finding funding

The main source of postgraduate funding is research councils and they have limited resources, so you need to write your funding applications and proposals with care. Competition is fierce, so take your time. Students studying arts subjects should contact the Arts and Humanities Research Council, whereas Sciences are supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

www.ahrb.ac.uk; www.epsrc.ac.uk

Seeking sponsorship

Many postgraduate students are given financial assistance from charities and businesses. Some ask for something in return, others just want to help people from different backgrounds or with certain interests. Pop into your student library and a librarian should be able to direct you towards any potential sponsors.

Getting help

If you need guidance on who to get information from, contact the Department for Education and Skills.

www.dfes.gov.uk

Getting by

As long as you are a student, you can join the NUS and benefit from their largesse.

www.nusonline.co.uk

Getting around

Everyone needs their Young Persons Railcard - at £20 per year it's a bargain. You get a third off all train fares, so long as you are under 26 and/or in full-time education.

Alternatively, you could get around by coach. National Express offers its NX2 card for under-26's and full time students. For £10 a year, it entitles you to 30 per cent off all fares.

Alternatively, Magabus is a crazy outfit. They enable you to travel up and down the UK for as little as free.

www.youngpersons-railcard.co.uk; www.nationalexpress.com; www.megabus.com

Getting away

Postgraduates can still enjoy discounted travel. For £7 a year the Student Identity Card (ISIC) offers access to over 30,000 discounts and benefits in over 100 countries - and is the only student identification recognised internationally. STA Travel also has great deals for students including flights, trains and insurance.

www.isic.org; www.statravel.co.uk

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