Types of research degrees

Postgraduate research opportunities

The University offers postgraduate research programmes at both master’s and doctoral (PhD) level:

Master’s level research programmes:

  • MA by Research / MSc by Research / LLM by Research: Typically one year full-time, two to three years part-time. This is an individual research project written up in a thesis of 30,000 words.
  • MPhil: Typically two years full-time, four to five years part-time. This is an individual research project written up in a thesis of 60,000 words. In some cases, there may be opportunities for you to upgrade to PhD during your studies.
  • MRes: Typically one-year full-time, consisting of one-third taught modules plus a substantial research project. Available in science and engineering disciplines, the aim of the MRes is to provide relevant training to acquire the knowledge, techniques and understanding needed for a professional career or for progression to higher academic studies.

Doctoral research programmes:

  • PhD: Typically three years full-time, six to seven years part-time. You will undertake supervised research either independently or as member of a team. Assessment is by means of a thesis of 100,000 words which must demonstrate your capacity to pursue original research and should represent a distinct and significant contribution to the subject.
  • EngD: The Engineering Doctorate aims to prepare engineering students for research careers in industry and is fully supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). This four-year scheme consists of one year of taught modules followed by an industry-linked research project.
  • MD: In addition to the PhD, the College of Medicine offers the postgraduate degree of Doctor of Medicine (MD) through supervised research within individual research groups. This programme is two years full-time, four to five years part-time.
  • DProf: Typically four years full-time, six years part-time, a Professional Doctorate is a research degree structured around a particular area of professional practice.  You will follow a programme of directed study, including periods of approved professional/industrial practice and training, together with a programme of research. Assessment includes a thesis of up to 80,000 words.

What can you study?

The majority of our research programmes can be pursued on any academic topic, giving you the flexibility and freedom to choose a topic of particular interest or relevance to you.

The only condition is that we have the academic expertise to advise you and guide your studies. Use our directory of research expertise to find out if we have experts in your subject area who can supervise your studies.

Because of the taught modules included, MRes and EngD programmes are available only in specified subject areas.

Mode of study

Most of our research programmes are available for full or part-time study. Part-time study will allow you to fit your studies around your other commitments, and also to pay your tuition fees over a number of years.

With few formal taught sessions, a research programme gives you greater flexibility to choose when you study. Meetings with your supervisor will be arranged at regular intervals, and a research training programme will be arranged for you, but otherwise you can choose to work on campus in the library or postgraduate study room in your department, or even at home.

Is a research degree right for you?

Yes, if you want to:

  • Explore an individual topic in depth
  • Acquire extensive and specialised research skills
  • Have flexibility in what and when you study
  • Enhance your career prospects
  • Work closely with leading subject experts
  • Pursue a career in academia or research