Postgraduate research degrees in the UK and Ireland

Every year, thousands of international students set their sights on the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland for postgraduate research degrees. According to The Economic Times, an all-time high of 559,825 international students was recorded (in the UK) just this year—a 23.7% surge from 2022.

The two countries are home to some of the best institutions in the world. They produce graduates who lead in advancing knowledge in their respective fields. Read on to learn why students should consider pursuing their postgraduate studies in the UK and Ireland. We also explore different research programs in the region available through upGrad GSP.


Why study in the UK and Ireland

The UK and Ireland have some of the world’s most prestigious universities. These promise high-quality education and numerous professional opportunities to international students. Their rich sociocultural environments also promote holistic growth, with out-of-classroom experiences sure to enrich the lives of anyone who studies in the region.

Let’s break down some of the reasons why students should choose the UK and Ireland for their postgraduate research degrees.

High-quality education

The UK and Ireland have a rich academic tradition. They’re known for leading and delivering high-quality education that continues to thrive today. Universities are quick to adapt to an ever-evolving world. Robust infrastructure keeps them in sync with regulated standards set to provide students with the best educational experience. The UK itself houses four out of the top 10 schools in the QS World University Rankings 2024.

The region is also popular among international students because of the numerous grants and scholarships available. There are around 8,000 offered per year for many different courses, including fully-funded options at top universities.

Career opportunities

The UK and Ireland are global leaders in business, medicine, law and many other sought-after fields. International students can get access to hands-on experience in these industries before and after graduation through “work while you study” schemes and post-study work rights. The Graduate Route in the UK particularly makes the region attractive because it allows international students who have earned a degree to stay in the UK and work or look for work for up to three years.

Holistic growth

With about 9% of the total (UK) population made up of foreign nationalities, international students can encounter people from all walks of life, while still finding familiarity in their own culture. The region’s multicultural nature also fosters a modern and progressive environment that allows people to adopt more innovative and inclusive mindsets and work habits.

The UK and Ireland are also ripe with travel opportunities. International students can enrich their study experience by taking in the sights of the two countries, as well as neighbouring nations like Scotland and Wales.


Postgraduate research programs in the UK and Ireland

UK and Ireland universities are some of the leading institutions when it comes to research, with graduates going on to make waves in their chosen fields. Here’s a list of GSP partner universities that offer excellent postgraduate research programs:

Birmingham City University (BCU)

BCU is one of the oldest universities in the UK with a reputation for providing high-quality student-focused education. Students here enjoy excellent courses focused on practical skills and professional relevance. Staff encourage thinking differently, creating opportunities and building community. BCU students also enjoy state-of-the-art campuses and facilities, including specialist laboratories for newer courses.

  • Research programs offered at BCU include:
  • Master of Research (MRes) Sport and Exercise
  • Master of Research (MRes) Life Science
  • Master of Research (MRes) Health

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU)

CGU has risen to be one of the best universities in Scotland for its research quality, particularly in nursing and allied health subjects. It’s also the country’s leading provider of graduate apprenticeships in civil engineering, cybersecurity and accountancy, among others.

GCU is also known for producing employable graduates. In 2022, it had the highest proportion of undergraduate level graduates in highly skilled occupations compared to other Scottish modern universities.

Research programs offered at GCU include:

  • Master of Research (MRes) Health and Life Sciences
  • Master of Research (MRes) Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment

University of the West of Scotland (UWS)

UWS is renowned for exceptional research, 90% of which is internationally recognised. Its programs focus mainly on health, society and sustainability, with research carried out in the areas of business, computing, education, engineering, health, media, science, social sciences and sport and exercise.

Research programs offered in UWS include:

  • Master of Research (MRes) – Education and Social Sciences
  • Master of Research (MRes) – Life Science
  • Master of Research (MRes) – Business and Creative Industries
  • Master of Research (MRes) – Health

Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Galway

Formerly Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), ATU is a multi-campus technological university in west and northwest Ireland. It boasts over 600 programs and eight research centres, and it’s a great choice for international students looking for educational experiences focused on applied learning.

Research programs offered at ATU include:

  • Master of Research Arts in Artificial Intelligence Research
  • Master of Research Arts in Cloud Technologies Research
  • Master of Research Science in Cybersecurity Research

University of Limerick (UL)

Awarded five stars for graduate employability, innovation and knowledge transfer, teaching, engagement, internationalisation and infrastructure by QS Stars independent assessors, UL is a young and enterprising university attracting over 2,000 international students each year. It also delivers a strong postgraduate range with more than 100 taught doctoral and post-doctoral programs.

Research programs offered at UL include:

  • Structured Masters by Research
  • Masters in Sociology
  • Masters in Languages, Literature, Culture and Communications

The UK and Ireland are two highly attractive regions for international students interested in pursuing further studies related to their field. There are a variety of available courses offered by some of the best universities in the world, and the pool of choices can get overwhelming without the right support.

Visit the upGrad GSP platform or speak to our recruitment and business development experts to learn more about programs, admission requirements and tuition fees for some of the best postgraduate research degrees in the UK and Ireland.

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