There are a vast number of postgraduate diplomas available in England and Wales. This could be a vocational course studied after an academic degree, such as the Legal Practice Course or the Bar Vocational Course; the resulting diplomas allow the student to enter legal training, relevant to either the solicitor or barrister professions, respectively. Postgraduate diplomas allow a graduate student to study a more advanced programme than at the bachelor's level. It is contrasted with a graduate diploma, where a student studies a new academic subject at degree level, but in a short space of time, such as the Graduate Diploma in Law (also known as the Common Professional Exam), which allows a postgraduate student to study the seven foundation subjects of a three year undergraduate law degree, in a period of nine months.
Postgraduate diplomas are considered by the National Qualification Framework (NQF) to be at a comparable level to a master's degree, however, they require fewer study credits to achieve (120 Credits) when compared to a full Masters Degree (180 credits). They are typically classified into Distinction, Merit, and Pass, similar to most master's courses. Many schools of architecture commonly operate a 2-year postgraduate diploma course providing RIBA part 2 education in this fashion.
The Membership (MCGI) Award is awarded by the City and Guilds of London Institute. This is an award level qualification (15 credits) pegged at the same complexity level as the Masters Degree, or, NQF Level 7. However, this is not the equivalent of a Masters Degree, simply a qualification at the same level. the MCGI is currently only available to certain certified engineers and military ranks.
A postgraduate diploma is commonly awarded to students who have completed most or all of the courses of a master's programme, but did not do the master's dissertation.
A postgraduate diploma typically represents 120 credits of postgraduate courses (whereas a full master's degree is usually 180 credits). Postgraduate diplomas are usually abbreviated as PGDip, PG Dip, PgD, PgDip, and, similar to a PgCert, diploma holders are permitted to use 'PgDip' or 'PgD' as a post-nominal.