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Postgraduate Qualities (Certificates, Diplomas and Undergraduate Honours)

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Postgraduate Degree Qualifications

A Graduate Certificate is designed primarily as a vehicle for degree graduates to pursue further study at an advanced undergraduate level. The Graduate Certificate is typically designed as a bridging qualification to postgraduate study for individuals developing educational, professional or vocational knowledge in a new discipline, profession or subject area and/or as a broadening or deepening of skills or knowledge already gained in an undergraduate degree. In addition to the Bachelor's Degree outcomes, a person with a Graduate Certificate is able to demonstrate some outcomes of a Bachelor's Degree in a new area of study.

A Graduate Diploma allows degree graduates to pursue a significant body of study at an advanced undergraduate level. The Diploma is typically designed as a bridging qualification to postgraduate study as well as broadening knowledge and skills in a familiar subject or discipline, or developing knowledge in a new area.

A Postgraduate Diploma is designed to extend and deepen an individual’s knowledge and skills by building on attainment in the principal subject(s) of the qualifying degree, Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate. A Postgraduate Diploma prepares an individual for independent research and scholarship in the principal subject of the diploma.  A Postgraduate Diploma may be awarded with distinction.


A graduate of a Postgraduate Diploma is able to:

  • show evidence of advanced knowledge about a specialist field of enquiry or professional practice
  • engage in rigorous intellectual analysis, criticism and problem-solving



Master’s Degrees qualify individuals who apply an advanced body of knowledge in a range of contexts for research, a pathway for further learning, professional practice and/or scholarship.
Master’s Degrees usually build on a Bachelor's Degree, Graduate Diploma, Bachelor Honours Degree or a Postgraduate Diploma. They may also build on extensive professional experience of an appropriate kind. Their outcomes are demonstrably in advance of undergraduate study, and require individuals to engage in research and/or advanced scholarship Master’s Degrees are constituted in one discipline or coherent programme of study. They may be undertaken by taught courses or research, or by a combination of both.

A graduate of a Master’s Degree is able to:

  • show evidence of advanced knowledge about a specialist field of enquiry or professional practice,
  • demonstrate mastery of sophisticated theoretical subject matter,
  • evaluate critically the findings and discussions in the literature,
  • research, analyse and argue from evidence,
  • work independently and apply knowledge to new situations,
  • engage in rigorous intellectual analysis, criticism and problem-solving

If a Master’s Degree includes a component of supervised research of not fewer than 90 credits at level 9, the graduate is also able to:

  • demonstrate a high order of skill in the planning, execution and completion of a piece of original research or creative scholarly work,
  • apply such skills learned during the study programme to new situations.

The research should be completed to internationally recognised standards and demonstrate that the graduate has a capacity for independent thinking.

(Eastern Institute of Technology, 2014)


Graduate Attributes or Qualities

These are the qualities we expect you to have achieved by the end of their master’s programme.

Academic Excellence Critical Thinking and Effective Communication
  • In-depth and extensive knowledge, understanding and skills at internationally-recognised levels in their chosen discipline(s);
  • A breadth of knowledge, understanding and skills beyond their chosen discipline(s);
  • An ability to participate in the creation of new knowledge and understanding through research and inquiry;
  • A contextual understanding of past and present knowledge and ideas; and
  • An intellectual curiosity and a willingness to question accepted wisdom and to be open to new ideas.
  • A capacity for independent, conceptual and creative thinking;
  • A capacity for problem identification, the collection of evidence, synthesis and dispassionate analysis;
  • A capacity for attentive exchange, informed argument and reasoning;
  • An ability to communicate effectively for different purposes and in different contexts;
  • An ability to work independently and as part of a team; and

A diverse set of transferable and generic skills.

Learning and Personal Development Active Citizenship (Social responsibility)
  • An openness to, and an interest in, life-long learning through directed and self-directed study;
  • An awareness of personal strengths and weaknesses; and

A capacity for self-reflection, self-discovery and personal development.

  • An awareness and appreciation of ethical and moral issues;
  • An awareness and appreciation of social and cultural diversity;
  • An understanding of social and civic responsibilities, and of the rights of individuals and groups;
  • An appreciation of the concepts of enterprise and leadership in all aspects of life; and
  • A readiness for citizenship in an inclusive society

("Graduate Attributes," n.d.)

By the end of the master’s degree programme you should;

  1. Have an understanding and a critical awareness of contemporary issues within their discipline.
  2. Have a comprehensive knowledge of research and its application to their specialty area of practice.
  3. Manage complex issues both logically and creatively, making sound decisions in the absence of evidence, and to communicate their judgements clearly to others within their industry/profession.
  4. Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems.
  5. Continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills.
  6. Have the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment through the demonstration of;
    • initiative and personal responsibility,
    • decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations, and
    • an independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.



Eastern Institute of Technology. (2014). AG130-6 Graduate Profile – Guideline. Taradale, New Zealand: Author.

Graduate Attributes. (n.d.). Retrieved from