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Postgraduate research degrees

Masters by Research (MRes)

A Masters by Research (MRes) is usually 12 months in length (if taken full time) and enables you to focus on a particular topic in depth. It allows you to uncover new knowledge or develop your own area of research expertise. An MRes requires you to produce a research dissertation (typically 30,000 words in length) based on your agreed area of research via independent study. You will not be taught through lectures but will be supported by a supervisor/s within your chosen university. 

Important points to consider: 

  • Research degrees are focused on independent study, so you control the pace and direction of your independent research project. 
  • MRes is a qualification with usually a year’s intensive research training before you continue to doctorate level. 
  • This may suit you if you enjoyed your dissertation module, you like to research and you work effectively independently. 

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Doctorate/ PhD 

A doctorate (PhD) will usually take a minimum of 3 years to complete. As a PhD student, you will undertake an original piece of research, which you then write up and present as a thesis. This is a long-term project and is therefore very demanding and you need to be sure you can maintain the motivation required. Although some will only ask for a degree (usually 2:1 or above) to start a PhD, the majority of institutions require PhD candidates to possess a Masters degree qualification as well. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Have you enjoyed dissertation or project work? 
  • Do you want to research a subject, which is normally related to your degree? 
  • Do you want to work in academic research? 
  • Are you likely to obtain a 1st class degree or 2.1 at the minimum? 

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