Postgraduate study

Julie - Master by Research

Julie talks about her experience of studying at Edinburgh and why she chose to study research psychiatry with us.

Julie Schoorl

Julie Schoorl

Julie Schoorl moved from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to study MSc Research Psychiatry at Edinburgh Medical School.

"I was thrilled to find that the University of Edinburgh provided excellent opportunities with highly specialised professors in my field of interest.

Now I have a thorough understanding of what it means and what it takes to be a full-time researcher. I feel I can make an informed decision in whether to continue my career in academia (and potentially start a PhD)."

Choosing Edinburgh

My gut said it would be right to live in a city like Edinburgh, which is not as huge as London but still has the vibe of a capital.

The University of Edinburgh was the obvious choice because of its high reputation and facilities. The buildings are amazing and I love all the activities that are offered by the Students' Association.

Edinburgh University Students' Association

Choosing a research masters

When I started exploring the possibilities of being involved in the (research side of) mental health, I was thrilled to find that the University of Edinburgh provided excellent opportunities with highly specialised professors in my field of interest.

Although I wasn't sure whether a research degree would be the perfect degree for me, I chose to apply anyway.

As the University responded with enthusiasm, I became increasingly excited and convinced that a research degree would be a perfect fit.

What can you do with a research masters?

Settling into the city and beyond

Edinburgh is a lovely city, full of student life, coffee shops, amazing pubs, friendly people, and the Fringe. But there are also many opportunities to get out of the city and get some lovely fresh Scottish air in the Highlands.

I go for a long weekend to the Highlands every two months with a group of friends, which is a great way to relax and catch up without any of the university stress surrounding you.

Studying a research master

A research degree gives you a (dangerously) large amount of freedom.

I don't have many friends that do a research master, and the difference between a taught masters and research masters is especially evident at the start of the semester.

After a jolly week full of introductions and fun, suddenly everyone was off to class and serious university life. Meanwhile a MRes student has to go into the office and find the self-motivation to start learning about conducting research, the right methods, and exploring the field of research.

It can be tough at the start, as you might feel unproductive and slow in comparison to taught peers that are suddenly busy with papers, group assignments and classes.

Finding your rhythm as a research student

You have to learn how to manage time effectively and force yourself to go into work when no one is necessarily expecting you. But once you find the rhythm it can be very fulfilling to work so independently.

You catch up with your supervisors once every two weeks and present new results, but other than that, it comes down to your own motivation.

The rewarding feeling of looking at all the work you’ve done and the things you’ve achieved after a semester of this independent working style is worth the initial stress and uncertainty.

Julie SchoorlMSc Research Psychiatry student, The University of Edinburgh

There are many possibilities for joining courses, attending seminars and conferences, but there is no obligation to study for exams or write essays. It is all about your personal progress with your own research.

I feel like I am learning a great deal from this method of studying, as it differs a lot from taught courses and gives me a better impression of potential careers after university life.

Preparing for the future

By attending conferences linked to my field of study, I have the opportunity to meet professionals who work in mental health. This has helped me to explore possibilities for my own future.

Transitioning from Masters to PhD

Because you work full-time in a department that employs post-docs, professors and PhD students, you automatically become part of that community. This makes it easier to discuss possible future research positions, such as a PhD.

It is easier to make the transition to a PhD student within that same department (or departments linked to the current one), depending on how well you do your research.


Interested in a research degree at Edinburgh?

We have an international reputation for innovative research across a wide range of disciplines.

The results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) showed that 83% of our research activity is in the highest categories (4* and 3*), which are classified as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

Browse our range of research opportunities.

Types of research degrees

PhD projects

A-Z of research programmes