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Posted on 4 Sep '19

The Most Popular Masters Degree Subjects for International Study in the UK

The UK is always a popular option for postgrad study abroad and perhaps it's one you're thinking of for your Masters. But what subjects do other students actually pick? And is the kind of Masters you're thinking of a popular choice for international study?

Knowing the answer can be useful: it could give you some idea of how common postgraduate qualifications are likely to be in your subject, or show you which kinds of course are likely to be the most 'international', with a greater mix of students from different countries.

Top 18 subjects for Masters study abroad in the UK

The table below gives the latest official numbers for international students 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. It also shows what percentage of students studying that subject are from outside the UK, so you can see how 'international' a subject is. You can read a little bit more about the data at the bottom of this page.

Top UK Postgrad Subjects for International Students
Subject Students % Int.
1 Business & Administrative Studies 59,290 62
2 Economics, Politics, Sociology & other Social Studies 14,645 34
3 Engineering & Technology 13,695 58
4 Creative Arts & Design 9,895 44
5 Law 7,625 42
6 Education (including Teacher Training) 7,325 11
7 Computer Science 6,255 44
8 Nursing, Health and other Subjects Allied to Medicine 6,220 10
9 Mass Communications & Media Studies 5,325 50
10 Biological Sciences 5,240 18
11 Architecture, Building & Planning 5,200 35
12 Languages, Literature, Linguistics & Classics 4,335 40
13 Physical Sciences 2,895 37
14 Medicine & Dentistry 2,575 22
15 History, Archaeology & Philosophy 2,525 25
16 Mathematical Sciences 2,155 54
17 Agriculture 925 33
18 Veterinary Science 230 13
The information in this table is based on official HESA statistics for student numbers in the 2017-18 academic year.

This table clearly shows that the UK is a very popular choice for international students looking for MBAs and other Business Masters degrees. Not only are these the most popular courses for people studying abroad, they also have the greatest percentage of international students. In fact, most of the people studying a UK Masters degree in Business & Management will be international students.

Other very international subjects include Engineering and Mathematics (where the majority of Masters students are from outside the UK) as well as Computer Science, Law and the Creative Arts.

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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