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Research Vs Taught Masters

If you are considering enrolling on a master's programme of study, you may be overwhelmed by the wide range of courses on offer.

Choosing the best type of master's programme for your needs will help you to rise above your competitors in a competitive industry.

However, it is just as essential to choose a course of study that plays to your learning style and prepares you for PhD study, should this be on the horizon. Here, we shall concentrate on the two main types of master’s programmes: research degrees and taught degrees.

Research Master’s Degrees

Research master’s degrees involve learning through research.

Research degrees are viewed as valuable preparation if you wish to undertake PhD studies, with many funding bodies only awarding money to PhD students who have completed research programmes.

If you are considering undertaking a research master’s, it is essential for you to be able to work independently as you will receive less tutor support than that provided on a taught degree.

You will, however, be granted support from a supervisor, who will help you to develop your research proposal.

The majority of your days will be spent collecting and analysing data and the aim of your efforts will be to have your work accepted for publication in a leading research journal.

Assessment on research programes is through a professional judgement of your research work and an oral exam relating to your chosen research topic.

Full-time master’s by research programmes usually last for 18 months.

However, courses lasting as long as 36 months are not uncommon. Part-time study is an option.

At the end of your course, you will be granted a Master of Philosphy (MPhil), Master of Research (MRes), Master of Arts (MA by Research), or Master of Science (MSc by Research) qualification, depending on your subject of study.

This course will suit you if you are:

  • Considering gaining a PhD and want an insight into PhD studies
  • Want to work in a research-based career
  • Want to focus on a single topic of interest
  • Enjoy independent study

Taught Master’s Degrees

Taught master’s degrees are not dissimilar to undergraduate degrees. They involve a series of taught modules, delivered through lectures, seminars and practical work.

Upon completion of these modules, you will be assessed on the knowledge and skills you have learned.

Assessment is through examinations, coursework, dissertations and group projects.

Full-time taught master’s programmes usually last for one-year. Part-time study is an option.

At the end of your course, you will be granted a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MSc), or Master of Business Administration (MBA) qualification, depending on your subject of study.

This course will suit you if you:

  • Enjoy  studying a wide range of topics and love learning through lectures
  • Already have an undergraduate degree and want to change your career in a short space of time
  • Enjoy contact time with tutors and fellow students
  • Want to gain a well-rounded skillset