Studying an MRes (Master of Research)

Research Masters degree programs are different from taught masters programs in that the emphasis is placed on the research element of the course, or an equivalent project with fewer taught modules to choose from. Around 70% of the content of a Master of Research is project-based with the purpose of leading to a research career.

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A Master of Research (MRes) is a type of degree that provides an introduction to research methods in addition to giving a firm foundation for those wishing to pursue a doctoral study in the future. An MRes degree can essentially give a student an opportunity to understand the nature and potential of a particular research topic through, for example, understanding the methodologies and ethics of conducting research. This degree can act as a good link between undergraduate and PhD level research, particularly if you are in the process of streamlining into your research discipline and at the same time are still undecided about committing yourself to becoming a PhD student straight away.

MRes Student

Reasons why you should chose to study an MRes

With an MRes, the focus is on developing an individual’s research skills and therefore as mentioned, it builds a good grounding for postdoctoral study. Taught masters programs such as an MA or MSc are typically considered sufficient to develop a foundation to do a PhD (being the most common entry routes). Yet, if one has the choice and is interested in pursuing research in a manner beyond your typical masters degree, then an MRes can be a preferable option.

Top reasons for choosing to study MRes are:

Fewer taught modules

Since an MRes program can be different from a typical masters degree as it focuses on a much in-depth and often large-sized dissertation on a specific research project, it could involve studying of fewer taught modules. This would mean the focus is narrowed on topics that could potentially act as the foundation for your PhD thesis.

Getting trained in research approaches and methods

MRes is a kind of research-focused program that can have a major share of its study dedicated on project-based activities preparing students for a career in that direction. Often students can get exposed to basic to advanced-level research methods as well as instruction in research ethics and professional practice including writing proposals, making funding applications and publishing.

Progressing into PhD

Some universities may give the option of automatically progressing from MRes to a PhD program. However this would depend upon the achievement of a minimum mark in the project activity, dissertation and taught modules. Additionally, the transition into a PhD can also prove to be more straightforward since an MRes student can be expected to be more aware of the level of research that would need to be put in.

Prepares students for wide-ranging career roles

The MRes is designed to prepare students for a career as an academic researcher, consultant, or even in the industry where an understanding of research would be considered useful. There is also the added advantage with an MRes degree at the workplace, especially where focus is being given to research practice and methods in preparing, for instance, reports or lengthy publications involving extensive research inputs. The skills gained from studying an MRes can come in handy.

Qualifications needed to study an MRes

Your entry qualification determines which track you will follow if your application is successful. Candidates should ideally have, as a minimum, a first or upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, in a closely related discipline. In addition, a strong research proposal and enthusiastic references can also be vital.

Applicants whose first language is not English must demonstrate that their level of English is appropriate to study at postgraduate level. The course may require IELTS with specified minimum scores depending upon the university. Please check the university's standard English language requirements before applying.

Applications should ideally include (a) an application form with a personal statement, (b) appropriate application fee where relevant, (c) transcripts, (d) list of the courses you are taking or will be taking this year under your current degree program (e) academic references as mentioned (f) GRE scores (wherever specified) (g) evidence of your command of English: if English is not your first language or if the language of instruction of your entire previous degree is not English and (h) a research proposal.

The general academic year for an MRes starts in September and in August in the following year, which means it is full-time for 1 year and may be offered part-time over 2 years.

Where can you study an MRes?

In the UK, an MRes is available in a range of academic fields.  Universities such as University of Bath, University College London, London School of Economics, University of Birmingham and University of Wales Trinity Saint David offer degrees in MRes. Some of the other universities across EU that offer MRes are Tilburg University, Maastricht University, Erasmus University and University of Amsterdam.

An MRes program is unique in so far as it gives a student the ability to get acquainted with research through a mixed bag of being taught about research and doing research.

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