Postgraduate research courses involve the completion of original academic research. They also include research skills training that will equip you to become an independent researcher, capable of advancing knowledge in your field.

Types of research programmes

There are different types of research programmes and choosing the one right for you is an important first step.

  • A combined research-and-taught Masters, such as the MRes, will provide you with both taught modules to increase your knowledge of a subject, and the opportunity to complete a research thesis with the appropriate training and supervision. MRes programmes combine research and taught elements, and are normally one year in duration if studied on a full-time basis or two years if taken part time. An MRes requires the production of a thesis of between 15,000 and 20,000 words on a specific research topic. Providing a structured study programme and a broad range of training, it is an ideal stepping stone to a PhD programme.

  • A research Masters, such as the MSc by Research, is a good way to investigate a topic from your undergraduate study in greater depth, to prove your capacity for undertaking research and/or to demonstrate your suitability to progress to a doctoral degree. These research-only Masters programmes are normally one-year full time, or two years if taken part time. A Masters by Research involves the investigation and evaluation of an approved research project and the presentation of a research thesis of around 40,000 words, depending on your subject area. You will receive supervision by one or more members of academic staff. For entry to most of these programmes you will need a good undergraduate degree (usually a 2:1), or an equivalent qualification, in a relevant subject.

  • Doctoral degrees, such as the PhD, are the highest level of academic qualification. They allow you to prove yourself to be capable of conducting original research and making a contribution to a field of knowledge. As a postgraduate researcher you will usually contribute to the research life of your department by presenting papers at seminars and conferences. Doctoral researchers often teach undergraduate classes during their degree programme.