Masters degrees in Professional & Vocational
Your guide to professional & vocational masters degrees including Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses and masters in hospitality, leisure, recreation, sport & tourism.
This discipline comprises continual professional development (CPD) courses and others designed to prepare people for work in the leisure, tourism, sport and recreation industries. If you are looking for something more theoretical this is not the section for you. The CPD courses cover a variety of subjects, including those like law and medicine where continual professional development is compulsory and others where it is merely a good idea.
Courses in the leisure and tourism industries offer training for all manner of fun-sounding jobs like festival organiser, sports agent and travel agent, but you will need to have a practical mind and a business-like attitude for these vocational courses. Events organisation is an evergreen profession: no matter the state of the economy, conferences will always need to be held, businesses will always need to have functions and weddings will always need to be planned. Tourism is also a growing sector, as countries rely ever more on its income to replace traditional industries and trade. Whether you fancy working abroad or extolling the wonders of Britain’s heritage and landscape, this discipline contains the subjects you will first need to study.
Going way beyond brushing up your tractor skills, this very diverse subject area covers topics from food security and international rural development , through environmental science and sustainable tropical forestry to equine business management and European food and agribusiness. If you really do just want to become a farmer there’s also an MBA in Advanced Farm Management.
Both taught and research masters are offered, along with postgraduate diplomas and certificates and MBAs: the range of qualifications you can achieve is almost as diverse as the subject matter. For many of the courses you will need a hard science background, preferably in biological sciences or ecology. For others, economics, international development and even sociology would be more appropriate. Interesting career paths from here on are myriad: you might well end up advising governments on their agricultural policies or environmental planning; work for a conservation NGO lobbying the Brazilian government about the deforestation of the Amazon, or run an incredibly well managed racing stable.
If you want to design interiors, gardens and houses, landscape London’s Olympic site or design the next Guggenheim museum, you will need one of the qualifications offered in this section. There are a range of qualifications available through both taught and research courses, but the emphasis is on vocational, professionally accredited courses. If you are intending to qualify as an architect, make sure the degree programme you choose is accredited by RIBA as a part 2 course. These degrees will require you to have already obtained your RIBA part 1 and have up to a year’s work experience. Landscape architects should also make sure that the course they choose will be recognised by the Chartered Landscape Institute.
Future careers in architecture might see you being part of the team in a large architectural partnership designing iconic public buildings or working for yourself designing domestic loft extensions for private clients. Landscape architects have an equally wide range of options, from working for the local council’s planning department designing inner-city playgrounds to working for international environmental design agencies.
Covering the aspects of the building industry that don’t require you to get your hands dirty, this subject area includes construction, conservation, estate management, surveying, construction management, project management, planning, building design and civil engineering, amongst other subjects. These courses will not teach you how to build a sturdy wall, but you will learn how to efficiently manage someone else who is.
Some of the MBAs, MScs, PGDips, MAs, and PGCerts are aimed at those already working within the construction industry who want to acquire project management skills. They may be offered via distance learning or as part time courses to facilitate this. Others are full time courses for graduates who might want to become surveyors, estate agents, planners, civil engineers, estate managers, or pursue a career in construction at the management level.
Looking to become the next Richard Branson? The thousands of courses on offer in this subject area cover every aspect of business and management. The courses range from Accounting and Finance, through Human Resource or Supply Chain Management to Consumer Psychology, Managerial Leadership and Intercultural Business Communication. There’s even an MSc in Luxury Management and Marketing which, if you play your cards right, you may one day have to apply to your own lifestyle as well as your business.
As well as hundreds of MBAs, there are thousands of MScs and MAs to choose from, but only a few options to do your masters by research (MRes or MPhil). Students without an undergraduate degree may be admitted to some courses if they can show they have significant professional experience instead. Career paths from here must surely include becoming a captain of industry or at least the winning contestant on The Apprentice.
This subject offers those already in work a chance to update their skills and extend their professional knowledge. Indeed, CPD is compulsory in some constantly evolving fields, for example law, medicine and teaching, where not keeping up to date would damage one’s professional competence. In other professions it’s just a good idea: a way of keeping your skills bang up to date and showing current and future employers your commitment to best practice in your field.
The masters in this section cover many different subject areas and include MBAs, a few research-based courses and taught programmes leading to postgraduate certificates and diplomas or MAs and MScs. The course you choose will depend upon the profession in which you wish to develop. Undertaking one of these courses should enhance your current career, equipping you with the skills to move upwards and onwards.
If you’ve got the stomach to immerse yourself in the criminal world but prefer to be on the side of the good guys, this is the subject area for you. Masters degrees in forensic subjects and security offer a range of hands-on ways to get involved with criminal investigation and the public and private defence industries. Criminology courses are more theoretical: analysing the causes and consequences of criminal behaviour and how society responds to it through social policy, justice, policing and punishment.
Both research and taught courses are offered. Entrance requirements will vary according to the course subject: applicants to the Forensic Psychology MSc will need a different undergraduate degree to applicants to the MSc in Gun Systems Design. Potential careers include working for the Ministry of Defence, MI6 or defence industry; investigating crime scenes for the police; working as a forensic pathologist; or becoming a civil servant advising on policy in the Home Office or Ministry of Justice.
Bin Laden may be gone, but the War on Terror rolls on and this elite troupe of courses will equip you to fight it. If you’re put off by the scary course titles like Guided Weapon Systems, Explosives Ordnance Engineering, try your hand at Human Security and Peacebuilding or the enigmatic MA in Resilience. These courses are not the place for woolly liberals though, but then neither is the defence industry.
Many of these courses are aimed at professionals already working in the defence industries, and almost all are taught. A few require a great deal of professional experience and are aimed a senior members of the defence industry. Qualifications available range from MBAs and MScs to postgraduate diplomas. Potential careers will probably involve you signing the Official Secrets Act and not being able to tell anyone what you do. If you’re not working for the Secret Service though, there’s always a lucrative overseas career as a mercenary or a security consultant to a multinational.
If you want to be rich and feared, dentistry is an excellent career option. Anyone looking to do a masters in dentistry will already know that, however, as only registered dental practitioners are eligible for these courses. If that is you, then the courses in this section can extend and focus your skills in areas such as oral and maxillofacial surgery, periodontics, orthodontics, implant dentistry and prosthodontics, among others.
As well as already being a registered practitioner, many of these courses require at least a year’s (and often more) professional experience. A criminal records bureau check may also be required for courses in paediatric dentistry. Career paths from here are pretty much set. You’re already a dentist: these courses will help you become a more skilled (and therefore, hopefully, less feared) one.
This subject area is definitely where the money is. You’ll be studying it, you’ll be working with it and ultimately you’ll be earning loads of it. That’s why the number of debt-laden university graduates applying to work in the financial sector has been rising sharply of late. Of course you don’t have to opt for one of the hundreds of MAs in Accounting, Banking or Finance. Courses such as the MA in Development Economics or the MSc in Economics and Public Policy will educate you about micro-financing in developing countries or equip you with skills you can use for the public good as an economist for local or national government.
Several MBAs are available, or you could complete an MA, MSc, MRes and various postgraduate certificates and diplomas, either taught or by research. A first degree in mathematics, economics, management or business would probably be a good start but is often not a necessary requirement. Career paths from here include becoming an auditor, accountant, venture capitalist, civil servant working for HM Treasury, investment banker, stockbroker, economist and many other very well paid professions.
The most popular postgraduate qualification in education is of course the PGCE, which enables you to work as a newly qualified teacher (NQT) in British state schools. PGCE programmes are taught with regard to a specific subject (e.g. Maths, Geography) at secondary level, or to a specific age group (e.g. Early Years) at primary level. There are also hundreds of other postgraduate education qualifications and courses available, for the professional development of already qualified teachers, as well as short TESOL and TEFL courses for teaching English to those who do not speak it as their first language.
Taught and research-based courses lead to a welter of qualifications including the postgraduate certificates in education (PGCE), postgraduate diploma in education (PGDE), a masters in education (Med) as well as the usual MAs, MScs, MRes and MLitt. As well as having an undergraduate degree you will need to submit to a criminal record check if you want a place on a course that involves in-classroom training, as all PGCEs do. The obvious career path from here is to become a teacher (of children or adults). If your aim is not to become a teacher, there are plenty of sideways steps you can take, including working in the education departments of museums, art galleries, councils and NGOs.
Essentially these courses teach you the theory and practise of how to ensure that other people have a good time. The courses are in large part vocational and designed to equip students with the practical skills needed to succeed in their chosen area of tourism, hospitality, recreation or sport. Among the course titles are: International Hospitality Management; Sport Business Management; Sustainable Tourism and International Festivals Management.
Several MBAs are available and a few research-based courses, but the majority of courses are taught masters, postgraduate certificates and diplomas. Career paths from here include a management role at a major festival like Glastonbury or setting up your own corporate events company or wedding planning service. The potential for overseas work is also high: you could be a hotel manager for an international chain, a travel representative for a tour operator, or even set up your own tourist business in the country of your choice. Sport-wise you could become a sports agent, a coach, work for a government body like Sport England or be a campaigner for a charity like the National Playing Fields Association.
If bricks and mortar are your bread and butter this is the subject area for you. Many of these courses are aimed at people already working as estate agents, town planners, surveyors, property developers, estate managers and housing officers. Others provide the basis for entering these professions. Course titles range from Real Estate Management to Historic Building Conservation via Surveying and Housing and most of them do what they say on the tin.
Along with the occasional MBA, there are taught masters and postgraduate certificates and diplomas, but very few research degrees. Many of the courses are arranged part time over several years and are designed to offer continuing professional development for people already working in the field. They will require candidates to have professional experience and be working in the property field as well as holding an undergraduate degree. With one of these qualifications you could pursue a career being in management at a Housing Association, listing buildings for English Heritage, working in the Town Planning or Housing departments of your local council, or set up your own property development company.
Postgraduate studies in Law can either give you the training you need to become a solicitor or barrister, or provide existing legal professionals with greater knowledge about specialist areas that are of interest or relevance to their work. If you are hoping to qualify as a lawyer but do not have a Law degree, you will need to start by enrolling on a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), also known as a CPE or Law Conversion Course. If you already have an undergraduate degree in Law or a GDL/CPE, you will need to decide whether you want to be a barrister or solicitor and then undertake the relevant professional training course, which is a Legal Practice Course (LPC) for solicitors or a Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC, formerly known as a BVC) for barristers. If you are already a lawyer or your interest in law is academic, there are hundreds of interesting research and taught masters (usually known as LLMs) on offer, as well as postgraduate certificates and diplomas. How about an LLM in Islamic Law, Human Rights and Humanitarian Law or Oil and Gas Law. A word of warning: don’t confuse a GDL, which will lead to qualifying as a lawyer, with a PGDip, which won’t. Confusing, huh?!
Careers from here include becoming a solicitor, barrister, judge and ultimately a Law Lord. The content of a lawyer’s job varies wildly depending on the context that he or she works in. You might decide to work for the Crown Prosecution Service trying to secure convictions for criminals or as a Legal Aid Criminal Lawyer defending them. Or you might spend your days pawing over contracts as an in-house lawyer for an international shipping firm or large bank. Many politicians and a large number of civil servants are also lawyers, so it could be a route into politics.
Going way beyond putting books on shelves and telling people to be quiet all the time, librarianship and information management is actually an intellectually satisfying, vital and potentially lucrative area of study. The people who issue you books at your public or university library are merely the public face of the profession, librarians, archivists and information managers also play an essential role cataloguing, storing and retrieving information for use in local and national government and business. Knowledge is power, remember, and librarians hold the key to it.
As well as straightforward librarianship, archivism and information management qualifications, courses here include Digital Asset Management, Museum Studies and Publishing. Both research and taught masters are available, as well as postgraduate certificates and diplomas. If you want to work as a librarian, you must make sure the course is recognised by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). Potential career paths from here include working as a librarian in the civil service; working as an archivist or research assistant in Britain’s National Archives in London; or supplying the employees of a large company like Morgan Stanley with the research data they need to make megabucks.
When you think medicine, you think doctors, but courses in this subject area include numerous postgraduate qualifications in medicine-related subjects such as public health, NHS management, pharmaceutical development and medical research for which you do not necessarily have to have a medical degree. There are also plenty of courses offering professional development for qualified doctors and specialist training for healthcare professionals in areas like radiography, occupational therapy, psychiatry, pain management and palliative care. With more than 500 courses on offer, if you are a doctor or want to work in a clinical setting, it is worth looking for the relevant qualification here.
Both research and taught masters are available, as well as postgraduate certificates and diplomas. Many courses will accept a professional qualification in lieu of an undergraduate degree. Career paths from here include undertaking cancer research for a charity like CRUK, being an NHS manager, and a wealth of clinical and other positions in a hospital setting.
Nurses and midwives work extremely hard in often very stressful settings for low wages. When they fail to meet the extremely high standards expected of them, they are rubbished by the media and when they get things right the most they can hope for is a thank you card from a patient or their family. On top of all that, the profession of midwifery makes everyone snigger because it is pronounced ‘mid-whiff-ery’. If you are one of the angelic people who knew all this but completed a degree in nursing or midwifery anyway, the hundreds of postgraduate courses here can help you acquire specialist skills and move up the pay scale. Whether it’s Child Protection, Community Health or Cancer Care you are interested in, there is a course here for you.
Both taught and research masters are offered, as well as postgraduate certificates and diplomas. You will need to be a registered nurse or healthcare professional, probably with a relevant first degree to access these courses. Potential career paths from here include taking a more senior position in the nursing profession or moving into a different area of nursing such as public health or possibly teaching.
Striking the balance between building enough homes and leaving enough green spaces, or between planning for the needs of business and for the people who use and work in the businesses, is complicated. If you can get it right then cities can be happy, cohesive places where both people and business thrive and the countryside can be both protected and productive. These courses address exactly these issues and more, equipping you with the skills to work at a strategic and policy level. Courses cover areas like urban regeneration and design, transport planning, social inclusion and rural management.
Both taught and research masters are available, as well as postgraduate certificates and diplomas. Some courses are accredited by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. Career paths from here include working as a planner for your local authority, or at a more strategic national level as a policy advisor to local and national government. You might also end up working on projects for a company like Urban Splash, regenerating buildings in inner-city areas, or in a policy role for a housing NGO like Shelter.
Becoming a vet is probably even harder than training to be a human doctor, as the insides of different animals are unsurprisingly also arranged differently, so there’s much more to learn. Plus, unless they are very unlucky, human doctors don’t have to put up with poisonous snakes or stinky skunks in their consulting room. Many of the courses in this subject area are aimed at qualified veterinary practitioners. Others are suitable for zoologists with an interest in animal health and welfare, but will not qualify them to become a practising vet. Among the courses are MScs in Veterinary Parasitology, Veterinary Infection and Disease Control and Animal Welfare.
Both research and taught masters are offered, as well as a number of postgraduate certificates and diplomas. For many courses you will need to be a qualified veterinary surgeon, for others a degree in biology or a biomedical science will suffice. Potential careers might involve being the vet at a zoo, curing lions’ toothaches and hippopotamuses upset tummies. Or, less amusingly, looking after the welfare of animals being used for research in a scientific laboratory.