Applying for a Masters at Durham

It’s the time of year when, if you’re a third or fourth year, you start thinking about the future. Your inbox becomes overloaded with messages from all manner of companies competing for the best students, but what if you decide not to enter the world of work straightaway? Now is also the time to be thinking about further study; this post is all about why you should apply for a Masters at Durham. I’ve just started doing a Masters by Research in French and couldn’t recommend it more highly.


Why do a Masters?

Maybe you’re very interested in your subject and feel like you want to explore it further. Or maybe you’ve found out you’re interested in a different discipline and would like the chance to study that? Obtaining an additional qualification might help you to enter your chosen profession, give you time to work out what you want to do next, or be a necessary step if you’d like to pursue a PhD and/or an academic career in the future.

Why do a Masters at Durham?

There are lots of Master’s students here who were Durham undergraduates. Many people enjoy college and departmental life here so much that they decide to continue for another year and, as an added bonus, Durham University offers alumni 10% off their fees.

If, like me, you didn’t study in Durham before, you should definitely consider it for your postgraduate studies. All students are members of one of Durham’s colleges, which are small communities offering not only a place to live but also a social and intellectual life beyond that on offer in your department. Although many postgraduates choose to rent privately, they are still very much involved in college life. The University is one of the best in the country; the teaching is excellent and there are many opportunities to get involved in your department.

What kind of courses are on offer?

There are too many courses to list them all here but, in general, Durham offers two kinds of Master’s: taught Master’s and research Master’s. In the former, you complete a series of modules, attending seminars and maybe lectures before being assessed and during the second part of the year you write your dissertation. In the latter, you are left to your own devices to complete a single thesis or project punctuated only by meetings with your supervisors.

You can find out more about Durham’s courses at

How do you apply for a Masters?

All you need to do is fill in the online application form and attach documents such as your undergraduate transcript and a statement of purpose, but check this with your department because some may want additional materials. The statement of purpose sounds scary but it isn’t; all you need to do is write about what you’ve already studied, what you want to achieve during the Masters, and suggest your dissertation topic. But don’t worry about this, no one will get cross if you decide to write a different dissertation when the time comes!

If you have any questions about the course, contact relevant members of the department and, if you’re applying for a Masters by Research, definitely contact potential supervisors to discuss your project. They’ll be happy to help.

How do I fund my course?

You need to find money for your tuition fees and for your living costs. Many of the departments offer scholarships advertised on the Fees and Funding section of their webpages; the deadlines for these are usually in January. Look also for external funding from research councils, if this is available it will again usually be listed on the department website. The Durham colleges sometimes offer scholarships or bursaries of which details can be found on their websites and check out the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding for more opportunities. If you don’t already have a Masters, you could be eligible for the Government’s Master’s loan of £10,000 and many students fund themselves through savings and working. If you’re worried about money you could always take a year out to work first; in doing this, you would also gain valuable work experience.

For advice on funding please see

That’s a basic account of the process of applying for a Master’s, obviously this may vary slightly according to the subject.

The most important advice for potential applicants is to believe in yourself and your ideas!

Jess Allen

Jess Allen

I'm Jess and am doing a Master's by Research in French, examining how women wrote about friendship during the Renaissance. I'm a Student Librarian and part of the Academic Committee in my college, St Chad's. I'm also a member of the Yoga and Aerial Arts societies. I love travelling, reading, and cooking and am keen to get more people enthusiastic about languages.
Jess Allen

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