Taught Masters

Taught masters in the UK are popular with overseas students as they are normally completed within 9 to 12 months. An MPhil, which is usually a research based master’s degree will often take 2 years though. Another popular feature of master’s courses in the UK is that they can be either conversion or specialist master’s degrees. Conversion means that you may be able to study in a different area than your undergraduate studies. For example, if you studied Literature at university but now want to study business, you can! A specialist master’s degree means that you continue to study in the same area as your undergraduate studies but in more depth. Below you can find more information about the different types of postgraduate taught courses available in the UK. But don’t worry, your UKEAS counselor can advise more on what course best suits you.


These are all titles for Masters’ degrees. MSc is for Master of Science, MLitt is for Master of Letters and MA is for Master of Arts. MLitt is usually used for arts degrees and so it is similar to MA. Most universities use MA but some (usually older universities) like to use MLitt. It makes no difference to your qualification.

Business is one of the few subjects where degrees can be called a Master of Science or a Master of Arts. So you might see degrees at different universities called, MSc Management, MA Management, MLitt Management. Generally an MSc Management is likely to be more quantitative than a MA Management or MLitt Management but this is not always the case. Your counselor will be able to advise you more on this.

Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip)

The Postgraduate Diploma is normally awarded when the student has successfully completed the taught element of the master’s degree. This is generally after 9 months. Some more practical courses may only be offered as a PgDip and some programmes may be offered as a PgDip as a preparation course for a full masters.

Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert)

Students who pass half the modules of a full PgDip can usually obtain a Postgraduate Certificate. Again though, some vocational courses, such as certain teaching courses, may be offered as PgCerts. As this area can be confusing to students, please check with your counselor about the status of the course you wish to follow.

Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

The MPhil usually takes 2 years to complete and is often seen as a stepping stone to a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy). The first nine months involve taught courses but mainly focus on discussion with the tutor about the research topic. After that, students can often choose to do a PhD or continue with MPhil research. The latter 15 months include research courses. Most schools will require students to register as MPhil students before they officially become PhD candidates as whether they can become PhD students depends on their performance and exam results in the MPhil courses.

Pre-sessional English Courses

Because a master’s degree in the UK only takes one year to complete, there is a condition that students need to have a good English level (most courses require IELTS 6.5) before they start the course. If their level doesn’t meet the requirement, schools will usually suggest them to follow a Pre-sessional English course. These courses are designed to improve both the student’s English ability as well as teach them academic skills so that they can cope better with their chosen study programme. The length of the course depends on their IELTS score. Students who successfully complete the course can go on to the degree course without taking the IELTS again in most schools, but some schools may require them to re-take the IELTS. Your counselor will be able to advise you on this.

Research Degrees

The UK is famous for its research led universities, many of which have produced groundbreaking discoveries such as DNA and gravity, amongst others! There are several different types of research degree and they normally take 3 or 4 years to complete:

Traditional PhD (pure research)

Compared to general PhD courses in other countries, a PhD degree at the UK doesn’t include taught courses. It focuses on pure research (research training) and takes at least 3 years to complete. It can be longer depending on your research area and how difficult it is to collect data. The normal stages to go through will be a literature review of current thinking in the research area, conducting the research, analyzing the results and writing up the results. The hardest part about applying for a PhD in the UK is that you need to find a suitable supervisor. Your UKEAS counselor can help you with this daunting task! Remember, PhD’s in the UK are famous because the research must be unique, which means that upon the award of a PhD in the UK, you are a world expert on that subject!

New Route PhD

The new route PhD started in 2001 and includes research, taught courses and professional skills training. It is uncertain how long a traditional PhD will take as mentioned above but it is certain that the New Route PhD takes 4 years to complete. The New Route PhD is also a fast pathway as university graduates (or equivalent degree holders) can get a PhD degree through an integrated course in four years. Master’s degree students can expand and develop professional and a wide range of other skills。

Part time PhD research

Under some circumstances, students can do a part time PhD research course. Students have to finish the first stage of the research course and then may go back to their home country to collect the data. Later they return to the UK to analyze the data and write the doctoral thesis under their supervisor’s advice. They also need to find a professor to help them in their home country.

Professional Doctorate in Business Administration, DBA

A Professional Doctorate in Business Administration, DBA, is different from a PhD in Business Administration. They both require good academic and research performance but the DBA mainly focuses on the practical application of management theory and hopes to develop managers with research practice ability. A PhD in Business Administration by contrast, focuses on academic teaching and research and hopes to develop scholars with teaching and research potential. The DBA is suitable for people with years of managerial experience who want to obtain a higher degree and then continue their business life.

Professional Doctorate in Education, EdD

The Professional Doctorate in Education provides experienced people in the education field the opportunity to examine related issues and achieve a doctoral degree. In that sense it is similar to the DBA.


If you have any questions, please contact your Go2uK counsellor for professional and free advice.