I know everyone might think this is a stupid question but what is the difference between a Research and Taught Programme. I don't know if we have this in Canada. I've read so many forums and discussions about it but I seriously can not wrap my head around it. Let's say I'm looking to do a Masters in History and then go on to do a Ph.D afterwards, what are the advantages of research over taught or vice versa. What are the differences? What if i just get a masters, what are the downsides or upsides of either one?
Think of the straightforward way to differentiate between the two, and then jumble it all up. Most masters programmes involve both teaching components (courses) and research components (dissertations), yet most of them are considered to be taught degrees. For instance, an MLitt with a year of teaching and a summer of writing at St Andrews is a taught degree, whereas the MPhill with that same year of teaching and a whole other year for writing a longer dissertation is considered a research degree at that same university. How large is the difference between a taught and a research degree based on that example? The most concrete way to find out if a degree is research or taught in my experience at least, is whether you need to submit a research proposal with your application or not.
If you want to do a PhD though, you need to look for a course which has a significant emphasis on research skills. A specific research masters that some places offer (i.e., an MSc in historical research at Edinburgh) is not necessary so long as you do one which gives you the tools you need.
The MRes (or even an MA in Historical Research) will provide you with quite a lot of research training and skills. You'll spend your time doing research modules on your own personal interests and then a dissertation (which I think tend to be bigger than the one you do for a taught MA)
Whereas with an MA - it's like a 4th year with taught modules and a dissertation. Most, if not all will have some form of research training in them (I know for my one, it's through one of the compulsory modules)
Regarding the PhD - you don't necessarily need either of them. I've been told I could go straight on from UG to Mphil but for me personally I want to gain another year of experience writing and researching, plus studying in a different department. Oh and not committing to a PhD just yet!
I think it comes down to whether you want to study different subjects for another year through taught modules or whether you'd be happier going straight into a bigger research piece plus more training as such.
Both a taught MA and an MRes/MA in Research have their place and either way, you will be able to go on further if you want to. All depends on personal choice I think. Moreover, when you start further research after whatever course you choose, you'll have to register for an MPhil to check your research proposal & the actual research is up to PhD standard. If it is, you then get upgraded to full PhD status.
I'm doing a taught MSc, every day at 9:30am I have a lecture followed by more lectures and practicals. There are a lot of course tests and exams and little coursework. Haven't done any for ages. It also requires a practical exam which I'm doing at the moment. I'll get experience with research after that when I write my proposal for my dissertation and undertake the project.
An MRes in science may be like three dissertation projects and less of the taught component.
A taught postgrad is largely like an undergraduate degree. Lecture based... tutorials, labs, seminars, etc. It's an extension of the knowledge and skils gained in undergraduate degrees, usually with a small component of research. Most of your grade will come from examinations.
A reasearch degree is just that. You'll do a year or more worth of research and then produce a dissertation or PhD. It'll be a unique, original, innovative and NEW contribution to your particular field of research. Your grade will come from this weird type of exam where people read your thesis and then question it and confront you about it, and if you defend it sufficiently... success.