Thinking about doing a Master’s Degree? In this post you’ll find out exactly what a Master’s Degree is. We hope this will help you evaluate your options and decide whether a Master’s Degree is the right choice for you.

What Is A Master’s Degree?

A Master’s Degree is an academic qualification which is available to students at a postgraduate level.

A Master’s Degree is a ‘second cycle’ qualification after an Undergraduate Degree (‘first cycle’) and prepares students who want to take on advanced ‘third cycle’ study at a PhD level.

A Master’s Degree is highly focused and entails substantial independent research. Students who undertake a Master’s Degree will show a high level of expertise and in a certain field of study or professional practice. Upon graduating, students should have developed advanced knowledge, theoretical skills and techniques associated with their chosen subject area.

There are some exceptions to this, in Scotland, for example, where undergraduate students can pursue four-year programmes that award a Masters. The status and content of the Masters qualification remains the same, however, with the final year of such programmes will be more advanced, contain more independent study and may include a dissertation.

Certain university will also sometimes offer Integrated Master’s Degrees (MChem, MEng, MMath, MPharm, MPhys etc) which combine an undergraduate bachelor’s degree course with an extra year at master’s level.


To be able to do a Master’s Degree, you will usually need a Bachelor’s Degree awarded at a 2:1 level or higher.

There may be some cases in which you can complete a Master’s Degree with a lower grade, for example, if you can demonstrate exceptional specialised knowledge and passion for your chosen field or subject.

How Long Does A Master’s Degree Take To Complete?

A Master’s Degree can take between one to three years to complete, depending on whether you choose full-time or part time study. It may also depend on the subject you’re studying and the country you’re studying in.

As Master’s Degrees are geared towards working professionals, they are more flexible than Undergraduate Degrees, with part-time and duration learning options available in many cases.

Different Master’s Degrees – MA, MSc, MRes, MPhil

Mater’s Degree programmes have different titles, although the components, duration and status will remain mostly the same.

In broad terms, however, there are two main types of Master’s Degree – Taught Programmes and Research Programmes.

Taught Master’s Degrees

MA (master of arts) and MSc (master of science) degrees are mainly taught programmes, which means that they are structured and include set lectures and seminars and supervisions during the first two terms with the last term including a portion of independent research, such as a dissertation. They are similar in structure to BA and BSc degrees.

Certain subjects like Law, Architecture or Education and other vocational subjects sometimes use their own titles and abbreviations (such as LLM, MArch or MEd). They are similar to MA and MSc degrees and are awarded at the same level but their content and assessment may be professionally accredited.

Research Master’s Degrees

MRes (master of research) and MPhil (master of philosophy) are research programmes and involve much more independent study with less teaching time. MRes and MPhil degrees may give students the chance to work on their research and independent study skills, ahead of undertaking a PhD which will require such abilities.

An MPhil can take longer than other Master’s Degrees as it involves a long thesis which usually requires at least two years of full-time study.

What Subjects Can You Study At A Master’s Degree Level?

You can study all the same subjects as a Bachelor’s Degree offers. Master’s Degree options may also include some more specialised subjects.

You may want to continue studying in the same field for your Master’s Degree or hone in on a specific topic. In some circumstances, you may also be able to study a different subject entirely for your Master’s Degree.

How Much Does A Master’s Degree Cost?

The cost of your Master’s Degree will vary depending on where and what you’re studying, along with the format of your qualification (part time vs full time). It could cost anywhere between £4,500 and £30,000. The cost is usually higher for international students, studying in the UK.

If you’re thinking of starting a master’s course you could be eligible for a loan from the UK government of up to £10,000. Click here to visit the UCAS website and find out more about this loan.


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