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Study a graduate program in Belfast

Population: 270,000

City overview

Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland, situated at the mouth of the river Lagan and surrounded by low hill. The city came to prominence during the Troubles in the 70s, 80s and 90s as Belfast became known for gun and bomb attack. However, the 1998 Good Friday Agreement marked a turning point in Belfast’s history, with the city named in the UK’s top ten safest in 2008.

Modern Belfast is known for tourism and its dynamic growth, with new bars, restaurants and shops opening almost every week. This is a dynamic city with a raw energy that will drive postgraduate students onto better things.

Education profile

Belfast is home to two universities offering postgraduate courses: Queen’s University Belfast is a member of the prestigious Russell Group and is one of the largest universities in the UK, with more than 25,000 students spread across its campus.

The University of Ulster’s Belfast campus focuses specifically on art, design and architecture. It has a further campus at Jordanstown which focuses on engineering.

Research and taught courses are both offered as graduate programs in Belfast, with hundreds of postgraduate courses on offer at both universities. Both types of Masters normally take 1-2 years to complete, with PhD programs taking 3-4 years full time or six years part-time.

Immigration and visas

EU citizens are permitted to take a graduate program in the UK providing they fulfil the following:
  • Are studying in the UK for more than three months
  • Are enrolled at an accredited university or institution
  • Have proof of sufficient funds to cover your graduate program in the UK for its duration
Non-EU students will need to apply for a student visa under the tier 4 visa category. They will need to demonstrate the following:
  • Proof of funding to cover a postgraduate course and living costs
  • A confirmation of acceptance to study (CAS) reference from a university with sponsor status
  • Adequate English language skills
You can find out more about visas at the UK Border Agency.

Life in Belfast

Taking a graduate program in Belfast will open you up to the amazing nightlife and culture the city offers, as well as allowing you to live in such a historic city. As with most growing and developing cities, Belfast has cheaper accommodation and a thriving arts scene which is comparable to anywhere in the UK.

The old shipyards where the Titanic was built are now luxury waterfront apartments, which is part of a glittering neighbourhood that is also home to the UK’s second-biggest arts festival.

Of course the Troubles still affect Belfast, and history oozes from every corner of this city. New students should learn about the conflict with trips to the Shankhill Road and Milltown Cemetery, the final resting place for many IRA paramilitaries.

Working in Belfast

Non-EU international students wanting to stay on to work in Belfast after their studies will need to apply for a work visa. You can find out more about the various visa options through the UK Border Agency.

As it continues to recover from the troubles, Belfast has seen an era of unprecedented growth. The city is Northern Ireland’s economic, educational and commercial hub, and is one of the five fastest growing economies in the UK.

Tourism also plays a major part in Belfast’s growing economy, with the city now one of Europe’s most visited weekend destinations.

Accommodation

Although universities offer postgraduate halls of residence in Belfast, many students choose to go into private housing either with other students or individually.

The main student areas in Belfast are:
  • Stranmillis
  • Lisburn Road
  • Malone Road
  • The Holylands
Private housing in Belfast usually means signing up to a contract on a property for a minimum of six months. You should expect to pay an average monthly rent of around £200-£300.

Weather and climate

Belfast has a typically British climate, with a narrow range of temperatures, lots of rain and often windy conditions. You can expect the warmest summer months to be between June and August where temperatures will reach an average of around 24C. Winter in Belfast can be dark and cold, with the coldest months being between December and February, where temperatures hover around freezing.

What to do next

Are you interested in studying a graduate program in Belfast? If so, you should sign up for our Free Application Service. We'll provide you with tailored information, courses to suit you and the option to apply online for the graduate program you want.