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 by Mark Bennett
, posted on 22 Aug '19

What are the Most Popular Postgraduate Subjects?

It's no surprise that more graduates are choosing postgrad study. The availability of student loans for UK Masters degrees has seen to that. But which subjects are most popular? And do lots of other graduates take your subject further with a Masters?

This information is interesting, but it can also be quite useful. Perhaps you're a recent graduate, or you're about to begin your final year at uni. You might be trying to decide whether to look for a job, or stay on for a Masters. Knowing what other people do could help with that. You can see whether your subject is popular at postgrad level and get some idea whether other job seekers in related careers are more or less likely to have a Masters.

Top 18 subjects for postgrad study in the UK

The table below gives the latest official numbers for people studying different subjects at postgraduate taught level (so, Masters degrees, as well as shorter courses like Postgraduate Certificates and Diplomas, but not PhDs) at UK universities. You can read a little bit more about the data at the bottom of this page.

Top Postgrad Subjects
Subject Students
1 Business & Administrative Studies 96,240
2 Education (including Teacher Training) 65,465
3 Nursing, Health & other Subjects Allied to Medicine 65,415
4 Economics, Politics, Sociology & other Social Studies 43,635
5 Biological Sciences 29,540
6 Engineering & Technology 23,630
7 Creative Arts & Design 22,510
8 Law 18,245
9 Architecture, Building & Planning 15,055
10 Computer Science 14,315
11 Medicine & Dentistry 11,670
12 Languages, Literature, Linguistics & Classics 10,805
13 Mass Communications & Media Studies 10,735
14 History, Archaeology & Philosophy 10,095
15 Physical Sciences 7,755
16 Mathematical Sciences 3,970
17 Agriculture 2,800
18 Veterinary Science 1,790
The information in this table is based on official HESA statistics for student numbers in the 2017-18 academic year.

It might not be surprising to see that Business and Management subjects are so popular: these are areas where postgraduate study on MBAs and other Business Masters degrees can really provide an edge. They're also popular with people looking to progress in their career, as well as new graduates.

Vocational subjects like Education and Nursing are also popular, with lots of students taking up PGCEs or other professional qualifications after getting their first degree. The fact that specific funding is available for teaching and healthcare also helps!

Other subjects are a bit less popular at the moment, so perhaps there's an opportunity for Agriculture grads to plough new fields and Mathematics grads to get their numbers up with some extra training. Sorry.

Where is this data from?

We've worked out the most popular postgraduate subjects using information published by the UK's Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). They collect data and publish official statistics for UK higher education.

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