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    Hello

    Could you tell me what the difference is between a Taught and Research Masters degree, and what the purpose of each is?

    I assume it's more useful to do a Research Masters degree if you're planning on doing a PhD because it prepares you for the kind of research you'll be doing for that? Whereas a Taught Masters degree is mainly similar to your Bachelor's degree but in a more specialised area/at a more advanced level?

    Also, which would you recommend for Politics? (Note: I do not have a Bachelor's yet, I'm just asking out curiosity)

    Hope you can help. Thank you!
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    I've been told that the MRes is aimed more for those who actually want to go into research within a museum or archive. Not always the case, but it'll give you the skills you need, rather than doing a taught MA.

    Taken off of: http://www.postgraduatestudentships.co.uk

    Masters by Research
    Masters by research are generally MRes programmes, but you will also find other specifically research related masters, for example MSc by Research. These types of courses include both research methods training in the relevant discipline and generally a substantial research project. They are valuable, and sometimes necessary if you are planning to progress to a PhD: in some disciplines, particularly in arts, humanities and social sciences, it is expected or required that you will complete a master's level programme with a substantial research element before a PhD, and you may find it difficult or impossible to find funding for a PhD without doing so.

    This type of course is also useful if you are considering a career in the commercial world where research is a key focus but a PhD is not specifically required. Additionally, 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.


    Taught Masters
    There is a wide variety of masters level qualifications and courses, but the most common are MA and MSc, and increasingly MRes and other types of Masters by Research. An MA (Master of Arts) is usually studied in disciplines relating to the arts, humanities and some social sciences, and an MSc (Master of Science) is usually studied in disciplines relating to the sciences. MSc courses are also common in some management and social science related disciplines. If you find a single department is offering both MA and MSc courses in subjects that appear to be similar, it is important to clarify where the differences lie and decide which is most appropriate for you.

    Other possible qualifications at master's level often relate to a specific discipline or specialism, for example MBA (Masters in Business Administration), LLM (Master of Laws), Mmus (Master of Music), or Morth (Master of Orthodontics).

    The structure of a taught master's programme varies from course to course, and from institution to institution, so that apparently similar courses with similar titles can have very different structures and content, as well as different teaching and assessment methods. Teaching can be delivered through seminars, classes, tutorials and supervised laboratory work. Assessment can range from examinations, vivas, assessed projects, group work or course work, and the weighting of different elements will vary between courses. Some courses, particularly but not exclusively arts and social science related programmes, require active participation from students in seminars and discussions: if you are shy, prefer to take a listening role, or if your spoken English is not as good as your written English, you may prefer a course which places less emphasis on this kind of group discussion. Many taught courses include some form of research project or dissertation, and are therefore not entirely 'taught'. Some offer a choice of some modules or courses but others have a 'set menu' that all students have to follow.

    All Higher Education Institutions in the UK offering master's programmes should make clear in their promotional material (prospectuses, websites etc) who the course is aimed at, as well as the prerequisites for applying to the course. Often, they will tell you what students completing the course have gone on to do. You may be looking for a specialist course to enhance your knowledge in a specific area, or an interdisciplinary course where the range of experience of the student body is almost as important as the course content, or a conversion course, or the first step in a research career. It is particularly important to clarify who and what the course is intended for if you have specific plans for your future, to make sure the course will help equip you to realise them. In particular, if you are thinking about progressing to a PhD, it is important to make sure that your master's course includes an appropriate level of research training as well as specialist knowledge, and provides suitable grounding for doctoral study.

    Master's courses in the UK are usually studied for one year full time or two years part time, but some courses are only offered as full time or part-time options, and occasionally courses may be longer, particularly if they are offered as part time courses or by distance learning.

    As well as all the other factors you will need to take into account, there is also the question of cost and there is almost as much variety in the cost of masters courses as there is in style and content. Course fees can range from just over £3,000 to £10,000 or even higher for some management and highly specialised courses. Higher fees tend to be charged on specialist courses or on courses from Universities with a particularly good reputation: if you are deciding between different courses with different fees, think about what you are actually paying for and whether it is worth paying extra for a specialist course, or for the name of the University on your CV.

    Thinkpostgrad: a master's course is a major investment, academically, personally, professionally and financially, so make sure you know what you want to get out of a course, decide on your priorities, research a variety of different options and ask questions before applying. Although it may be tempting to choose a course simply because it has funding available, if it's not the right course for you, you may end up saving money but wasting time.
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    youve pretty much hit the nail on the head.

    to add to your list, a research masters is necessary for some phd funding bodies (esrc). without a recognised esrc research masters you wont get funding from them.

    also, your taught masters will contain a dissertation (probably around 15-20,000 words) so you get to focus a lot on (1) literature review and (2) subject matter.

    plenty of esrc funded phd folk i know have both masters (taught and research), but the research masters has been supported by a scholarship (for the people i know, it is a departmental scholarhsip).

    though, having said all of this, it is feasible to go straight from bachelors to phd without a masters (probably self-funded) but you often have to be bloody good in the social sciences to make that leap. its more common in the sciences.
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    ^Can you say how much of a hindrance a taught MSc is when looking to do a PhD compared to a research MRes ect.?
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    As far as acceptance, it doesn't seem to be a hindrance. I have several acquaintances on MSc courses off to PhDs this September. I don't know about from a funding perspective though; the Boosh would know more about that.
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    So, in short, it doesn't make much difference with regards to doing a PhD, as taught Masters degrees normally contain substantial research skills modules and so on?

    However, for funding it is advisable to do a research Masters?

    It is difficult to get funding for a PhD for Politics/IR anyway, isn't it?
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    nonono its wont hinder you - the more qualifications you have in your phd subject area the better (especially specialised masters). you have to bear in mind that the first two terms or so of a phd are often taught research methodology modules anyway! for the new route phd, you will have to do the same two terms as the mres candidates, but you will also be able to submit a disseration in the third term and get a qualification out of it (and the chance for esrc funding). a new route phd actually takes a year longer than the traditional phd, but you can submit your thesis earlier and thus get the two qualficaitons in teh same amount of time.

    its all a little confusing, but you have several years to think about it. an mres is strange because ive heard of courses which are msc courses BUT called "msc-mres" courses if the applicants are funded (their funding means that their research is paid for and the results of their research contribute to a general cause). so, the dividing lines can be really really fuzzy.
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    It's even more complex since the demands for funding by your relevant research council also come into it. I seriously wanted to do the MPhil (research) for my masters in preparation for the PhD, but have been told that if I do this I stand next to no chance of PhD funding and my chances are much higher with the MA(taught). It's also complicated as the MA isn't always a taught degree - there's a research MA in History at Leeds for example.
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    Can anyone break this down further? Has anyone done a Research Masters before and explain the amount of work within the research masters?. I know one of the differences is that the taught masters is not structured to a timetable, there are no lectures etc, but the dissertation in a taught masters requires research also, especially if you pick your own topic, which many do. Aren't they quite similar except the research masters is self directed and you have to keep up your own study. Or is it that you are required to do the part that is usually taught yourself? I'm coming from a postgraduate Diploma which I took in a different institute to the one where I will be doing my Masters.
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    (Original post by Aerdna)
    Can anyone break this down further? Has anyone done a Research Masters before and explain the amount of work within the research masters?. I know one of the differences is that the taught masters is not structured to a timetable, there are no lectures etc, but the dissertation in a taught masters requires research also, especially if you pick your own topic, which many do. Aren't they quite similar except the research masters is self directed and you have to keep up your own study. Or is it that you are required to do the part that is usually taught yourself? I'm coming from a postgraduate Diploma which I took in a different institute to the one where I will be doing my Masters.
    The general distinction is that a research masters will have mostly research methodology modules, whereas a taught masters will have mostly subject-specific modules.
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    (Original post by Agamemnon)
    I assume it's more useful to do a Research Masters degree if you're planning on doing a PhD because it prepares you for the kind of research you'll be doing for that?
    Actually im not sure I agree with this; conditional on actually being accepted for a PhD (ie ignoring the CV benefits) I think having done a taught masters might be better since you will have taken more classes and should have a stronger body of knowledge on which to build. Unlike America, UK PhD students typically dont take a lot of classes so its possible for them to reach their viva with substantial gaps in their knowledge.

    On the other hand, if you done a great project as part of a research masterd then this is going to be a huge CV boost when it comes to PhD applications since it is showing research potential.

    So basically "it depends". I dont think you can say that one is necessarily better than the other in general.
 
 
 

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