Postgraduate study
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Masters by Research (MScR)

Our Masters by Research (MScR) degrees provide a particularly strong preparation for PhD study. They are sometimes offered as part of a doctoral training programme.

MScR, MRes or MARes?

The Masters by Research programmes offered at Edinburgh are abbreviated as MScR; however, at other institutions, it can be abbreviated as MRes (generally in sciences and technology) or MARes (in arts and humanities).

Regardless of the abbreviation, Masters by Research programmes tend to place an emphasis on research skills: around two thirds of the course content consists of research project work. (In contrast, about one third of a taught masters programme will focus on research work).

Masters by Research programmes aim to develop your research skills and, as a result, they provide a good preparation for postdoctoral study. If you are unsure whether a PhD is right for you, a Masters by Research can give you useful experience of what studying for a doctorate might be like, whilst at the same time allowing you to earn a valuable masters level qualification.

Most taught programmes are also designed with PhD progression in mind, so it is worth exploring your options fully.

Find an MScR programme

Programme structure

Masters by Research programmes tend to be available to study full time for one year, or part time for two years, and are likely to end with a final research project or dissertation.

At some universities, the MScR is offered as part of a four-year doctoral programme, where continuation to the PhD is subject to satisfactory performance in the MScR and the identification of a suitable topic and supervisor. This is not the same at Edinburgh: not all Masters by Research at Edinburgh lead directly to a PhD, and you can choose to do a Masters by Research on its own without the need to proceed to a PhD.

Do I need to write a research proposal?

As part of your application for a Masters by Research programme, you will usually need to submit a research proposal demonstrating your knowledge of your field and outlining your project’s aims and expected outcomes.

You should contact a prospective supervisor for further information on what to include in your proposal.

Our guide to writing a research proposal will take you through the process step-by-step:

How to write a research proposal

Do I need to find a supervisor?

We recommend you identify a suitable supervisor to discuss your research idea before you apply to ensure that we have the right specialist area you are interested in

How to find a supervisor