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 for postgraduate students that each institution provides, as what is on offer varies between universities, level of study and subject areas. A good place to start would be to ask yourself what is important to you about postgraduate facilities and how that is different from when you were an undergraduate or did your last degree.

Clearly, 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 see the provision. Where this is not possible, virtual tours of the facilities are often provided on university websites. Do bear in mind when consulting League Tables that they don’t separate out money spent on postgraduate facilities so may not be a good indicator.

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? What are the opening times? How many students can they accommodate at any one time? Does the level of access work for you and how you will be studying? 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 on offer vary. Look for network points, where you can plug in your laptop to access the University network. The inclusion of a student noticeboard will help you keep up to date with upcoming events, such as research related and social events specifically for postgraduate students.

Graduate School

Should a University have a Graduate School, the services provided differs from each institution, and 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 a facility, it is an important issue for postgraduates. Skills training and workshops are provided by a Graduate School or the Careers Service.

Library

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.

Accommodation

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. There tends not to be as much accommodation for postgraduates as undergraduates so you shouldn’t rely on space being available. If you require accommodation, you should contact universities as early as possible.

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.