Taught vs. research? Watch

Milady de Winter
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#21
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I'm doing a research MPhil, and the work I'm doing now will feed directly into my PhD. My course had a small 'core' taught element, and, having shared that core class with people from the taught MA in the same subject, I'm pretty sure that research is the way forward if you want to progress to doctoral study. I know that some taught Masters are very rigorous, and consequently useful, but I think that you just can't beat an extra year of immersing yourself in your own original research - the 'practice' for a PhD is invaluable, IMO
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apotoftea
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(Original post by oriel historian)

"This course provides an opportunity for students to study specific areas of history in greater depth than at undergraduate level. Those with an interest in British History, Medieval History, Environmental History., Social and Cultural History, Islamic and Middle Eastern History, East Asian History and Contemporary History will benefit from the school's expertise in those areas. Students undertake a mixture of compulsory and optional modules which reflect their interests and are given training for further research work or other professional careers." Their MA (Research) in history is being described here.
If you then go onto the department website proper the difference between the MA History and the MA History (research) is minimal:

" 104 MA History is designed for students to supplement their first degree with a postgraduate qualification in History. It allows students to create their own programme by choosing particular pathways or combinations of modules. Students can, if they wish, choose to opt out of the pathway system in order to develop their own interests. The compulsory elements of the degree are a 10-12,000 word dissertation, a training module entitled Research Skills for Historians and a module dealing with Theory and Evidence in History."

" 105 MA History (Research) is a more structured programme designed for those wishing to pursue further research in History after the MA. Students are provided with training for further study and concentrate their studies on one of the School of History’s specialist pathways. Completing this degree will assist with future grant applications for those who wish to undertake a PhD or some other form of historical research. The compulsory elements of the degree are a 15-20,000 word dissertation, two research training modules and a module dealing with Theory and Evidence in History"

The only differences I can see between those two is that the research MA offers another module on research training and a bigger dissertation. I'm guessing though that with the MA History, you do more actual taught subject modules.

http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/history/...4_and_V105.php

That does offer more research training that I'll be getting (going by what I've read about my MA) but then again I could just go along to the IHR and do one of their courses.

ETS: I thought with some MPhils/PhDs that you're required to do research training as part of the process anyway even if you've done an MRes?

(Original post by Milady De Winter)
I'm doing a research MPhil
Can you get taught MPhils then?

This gets more confusing every day :confused:
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Albiceleste
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(Original post by oriel historian)
The purpose of research masters is to provide you with the skills for research. Consider this statement from the University of Nottingham, which perhaps serves as a middle point for most universities in the British Isles:

"This course provides an opportunity for students to study specific areas of history in greater depth than at undergraduate level. Those with an interest in British History, Medieval History, Environmental History., Social and Cultural History, Islamic and Middle Eastern History, East Asian History and Contemporary History will benefit from the school's expertise in those areas. Students undertake a mixture of compulsory and optional modules which reflect their interests and are given training for further research work or other professional careers." Their MA (Research) in history is being described here.

Taught masters do not provide those skills in any where near the same degree because they are merely an extension of the undergraduate experience. In many cases the undergraduate experience provides for crossovers in skill sets - lawyers can cope with historical enquiry, they may need to teach themselves some theories but the process of deduction and making choices is similar as an example. Moreover, if it were the case that taught degrees provided those with a keen eye on research with the right skills why is it that the recommendation is for research masters for those in that category? Well, the simple fact is taught degrees leave you wanting because - and this is the words of a senior researcher at Edinburgh - they were 'invented' out of necessity, they had too many people clamouring to 'extend' their undergraduate experience for another year.

Believe me, mate, I have considered this long and hard and have come to the conclusion that I have. I don't just make these sorts of statements without thinking and I'd thank you to not suggest otherwise. :confused:
But what about taight masters in subjects at the LSE like management, and inernational political economy? Usually for people coming from another (arts/science) background? They are not a waste of time. Also, surely a taught masters in history or poltics or philosophy or anything at all at a good institution is worthwhile for people who actually want a good job afteerwards, rather than being an impoverished AHRC-funded, girlfriendless 27 year old who will probably only get a postdoc place at some filthy dump like Hull? A taught masters from a top 10 uni will look good on any CV.
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Touche
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(Original post by oriel historian)
The purpose of research masters is to provide you with the skills for research. Consider this statement from the University of Nottingham, which perhaps serves as a middle point for most universities in the British Isles:

"This course provides an opportunity for students to study specific areas of history in greater depth than at undergraduate level. Those with an interest in British History, Medieval History, Environmental History., Social and Cultural History, Islamic and Middle Eastern History, East Asian History and Contemporary History will benefit from the school's expertise in those areas. Students undertake a mixture of compulsory and optional modules which reflect their interests and are given training for further research work or other professional careers." Their MA (Research) in history is being described here.

Taught masters do not provide those skills in any where near the same degree because they are merely an extension of the undergraduate experience. In many cases the undergraduate experience provides for crossovers in skill sets - lawyers can cope with historical enquiry, they may need to teach themselves some theories but the process of deduction and making choices is similar as an example. Moreover, if it were the case that taught degrees provided those with a keen eye on research with the right skills why is it that the recommendation is for research masters for those in that category? Well, the simple fact is taught degrees leave you wanting because - and this is the words of a senior researcher at Edinburgh - they were 'invented' out of necessity, they had too many people clamouring to 'extend' their undergraduate experience for another year.

Believe me, mate, I have considered this long and hard and have come to the conclusion that I have. I don't just make these sorts of statements without thinking and I'd thank you to not suggest otherwise. :confused:
Um... quite blanket there... a taught postgraduate degree is sometimes needed for professional progression. A sports medicine masters allows FSEM membership to doctors. Architecture is similar where a masters fulfils RIBA requirements. Surveyors also have masters courses which fulfil RICS requirements.

I was not clamouring to extend my undergraduate experience when I decided to do a taught masters... and I'd do it again. A research masters would not have provided me with the solid grasp of the basics I was after (sports medicine is not covered in an average undergraduate medical degree).
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Milady de Winter
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(Original post by Albiceleste)
Also, surely a taught masters in history or poltics or philosophy or anything at all at a good institution is worthwhile for people who actually want a good job afteerwards, rather than being an impoverished AHRC-funded, girlfriendless 27 year old who will probably only get a postdoc place at some filthy dump like Hull? A taught masters from a top 10 uni will look good on any CV.
Yeah, those people with AHRC funding, what losers.... Have you any idea how ****ing good you have to be in order to get funding, and to then acquire a lecturing job anywhere? :eek:

By the way, you know what else looks good on a CV? The ability to spell.
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oriel historian
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Would you lot please take note that the OP was asking about Philosophy. Vocational masters are a different kettle of fish. We're also talking about the ARTS not science or even social science.

But then yes I suppose you all want to go - oh but the LPC is a postgraduate taught degree and we all know that's fundamentally necessary to your career.
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oriel historian
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(Original post by apotoftea)
Can you get taught MPhils then?

This gets more confusing every day :confused:
Yes: at Cambridge the MPhil is a taught 1 year course in history. At Oxford it is a 2 year taught & research course given you have to complete a 30,000 word thesis. The 1 year being the MSt.
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FadedJade
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The PHILOSOPHY Mphil is also a one year taught masters at Cam. :p:
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oriel historian
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(Original post by Nina)
The PHILOSOPHY Mphil is also a one year taught masters at Cam. :p:
I figured as much but didn't like to assume
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Albiceleste
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(Original post by Milady de Winter)
Yeah, those people with AHRC funding, what losers.... Have you any idea how ****ing good you have to be in order to get funding, and to then acquire a lecturing job anywhere? :eek:

By the way, you know what else looks good on a CV? The ability to spell.
Nonsense. I know plenty of painfully average people and losers at Cambridge doing history who ended up with a first in their final year, tried (and predictably failed) to get city jobs and then thought '****** it, I'm gonna go do a PhD', applied to the AHRC, to do an extension of their undegraduate dissertation-usually some conceptually toothless, sleep-inducing exegesis on medieval history or labour party politics-got funding, and then wandered around cambridge for the next 5-6 years looking like depressed undergraduates, but without even the hope of a nice legal or consulting job, or a nice room in Jesus or Trinity First Court and lapping up the adulation of 19 year old keenos, like their heroes. Dear oh Dear. Although I do realise that getting a job in academia is very difficult-shame that the people to whom I refer don't.
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apotoftea
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(Original post by oriel historian)
Yes: at Cambridge the MPhil is a taught 1 year course in history. At Oxford it is a 2 year taught & research course given you have to complete a 30,000 word thesis. The 1 year being the MSt.
Bar Cambridge or Oxford though?
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FadedJade
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It just made me laugh how you made a post pointing out that I was specifically talking about Philosophy, and then gave a History example
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oriel historian
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(Original post by apotoftea)
Bar Cambridge or Oxford though?
What people call things is random at best. In scotland for example you can get an MSc in historical research. It's a bit odd. I've not looked much further than Oxford or Cambridge tbh, given the former is my alma mater.
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Milady de Winter
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(Original post by Albiceleste)
Nonsense. I know plenty of painfully average people and losers at Cambridge doing history who ended up with a first in their final year, tried (and predictably failed) to get city jobs and then thought '****** it, I'm gonna go do a PhD', applied to the AHRC, to do an extension of their undegraduate dissertation-usually some conceptually toothless, sleep-inducing exegesis on medieval history or labour party politics-got funding, and then wandered around cambridge for the next 5-6 years looking like depressed undergraduates, but without even the hope of a nice legal or cinsulting job, or a nice room in Jesus or Trinity First Court and lapping up the attention of 19 year old keenos, like their heroes. Dear oh Dear. Although I do realise that getting a job in academia is very difficult-shame that the people to whom I refer don't.
That is some of the most egregious nonsense I've ever heard. No-one puts themself through the mental strain of postgraduate research without really loving the subject - or without having the commensurate level of talent to pursue it properly. And I seriously doubt that, a) painfully average people would end up with Firsts at Cambridge, or b) that people with Cambridge Firsts would generally fail to get jobs in the City (if indeed, that's what they tried to do in the first place).
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Albiceleste
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(Original post by Nina)
It just made me laugh how you made a post pointing out that I was specifically talking about Philosophy, and then gave a History example
Me? Sorry, I didn't realise.

I think to get a lecturing post in philosophy you do have to have a powerful analytical mind, and would be fully deserving of kudos. In history, you can get it simply by covering a boring, hackneyed area in which there happens to be a departmental opening (see medieval and labour party history, as mentioned above). Good luck. But if you do decide to go down that path, and make it, you'll know you've truly made it. Unlike most historians.
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oriel historian
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(Original post by Nina)
It just made me laugh how you made a post pointing out that I was specifically talking about Philosophy, and then gave a History example
Hah, you've got me there. I didn't mean too but it's just what came off the top of my head as something I knew for certain.
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FadedJade
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Actually Albiceleste is right at least about part of it. But I'd rather not have this turn into a discussion about that please.

Edit: No Albi - was referring to oriel with that comment but people posted too quick!
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RawJoh1
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(Original post by Nina)
I intend on applying to Oxford, but I believe that there are only 10 places for the course I wish to do there, so it's not going to happen given that I haven't got a first.
I'm pretty sure the B.Phil takes more than 10 per year.
http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/postgradua...ilosophy.shtml

"Around 30 graduate students in philosophy are admitted each year, most for the BPhil."

Nevertheless, like you say it's a hard degree to get a place on. I'll be trying for it next year.
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oriel historian
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(Original post by Albiceleste)
Me? Sorry, I didn't realise.

I think to get a lecturing post in philosophy you do have to have a powerful analytical mind, and would be fully deserving of kudos. In history, you can get it simply by covering a boring, hackneyed area in which there happens to be a departmental opening (see medieval and labour party history, as mentioned above). Good luck. But if you do decide to go down that path, and make it, you'll know you've truly made it. Unlike most historians.
What a load of rubbish! History posts are rare and frankly what you've said shows how little you are familiar with the current state of academic posts in the field. You don't just get posts by being boring and covering old ground, you'd get left behind very very quickly.
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apotoftea
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(Original post by oriel historian)
What people call things is random at best. In scotland for example you can get an MSc in historical research. It's a bit odd. I've not looked much further than Oxford or Cambridge tbh, given the former is my alma mater.
An MSc? What on earth? Saying that the Economic History degree at LSE is a BSc :confused:

I only asked as most MPhils I've seen (bar Oxbridge obviously) are advertised (totally the wrong word but I don't care ) as the basis/starting point of the PhD doing loads of research and very little taught content.
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