A question about MSc (and MPhil) dissertations in UK Watch

merigrey
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Hey guys I am not from UK and I have a question. So in my country a MSc takes 2-3 years. 2 years if you wanna prepare your dissertation while you are taking modules, 3 if you wanna complete modules first and dissertation after (though usually it's up to your supervisor rather than yourself). So basically you have a year to do your dissertation which also means a year of research for it.

Now, I know in UK you have only 3 months to do your research and prepare your dissertation, but I've always assumed that you actually start your research and working with your supervisor much earlier, while you're taking your modules. Is that assumption wrong? Because I was suggested to do MPhil instead of an MSc since they barely join any research activity and it's mostly about modules. In fact the supervisor I wanna work with said that he does not supervise MSc students at all and I can only work withhim if I do an MPhil. Are MSc students not allowed to join their supervisor's research groups? I mean the whole year and not just last 3 months.
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alleycat393
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(Original post by merigrey)
Hey guys I am not from UK and I have a question. So in my country a MSc takes 2-3 years. 2 years if you wanna prepare your dissertation while you are taking modules, 3 if you wanna complete modules first and dissertation after (though usually it's up to your supervisor rather than yourself). So basically you have a year to do your dissertation which also means a year of research for it.

Now, I know in UK you have only 3 months to do your research and prepare your dissertation, but I've always assumed that you actually start your research and working with your supervisor much earlier, while you're taking your modules. Is that assumption wrong? Because I was suggested to do MPhil instead of an MSc since they barely join any research activity and it's mostly about modules. In fact the supervisor I wanna work with said that he does not supervise MSc students at all and I can only work withhim if I do an MPhil. Are MSc students not allowed to join their supervisor's research groups? I mean the whole year and not just last 3 months.
What field is this and what are you doing the masters for? MPhils mean different things in different disciplines and then you have MRess...
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merigrey
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(Original post by alleycat393)
What field is this and what are you doing the masters for? MPhils mean different things in different disciplines and then you have MRess...
Hello there. The main thing I wanna learn is, when you're doing MSc, are you allowed to start your reserach while taking your modules or not? (or does it depend on your supervisor?) The field is an interdisciplinary one, MPhil is gonna be in Electrical & Electronics Engineering, while MSc is gonna be in Physics or Materials.
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alleycat393
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(Original post by merigrey)
Hello there. The main thing I wanna learn is, when you're doing MSc, are you allowed to start your reserach while taking your modules or not? (or does it depend on your supervisor?) The field is an interdisciplinary one, MPhil is gonna be in Electrical & Electronics Engineering, while MSc is gonna be in Physics or Materials.
Generally there are timelines for the start of the project. Some supervisors may be flexible but they don't have to be. Generally an MPhil is considered a failed PhD so I don't think that's a qualification you want to end up with. You may want to consider an MRes if you have a specific interest in research.
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merigrey
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(Original post by alleycat393)
Generally there are timelines for the start of the project. Some supervisors may be flexible but they don't have to be.
This is a bit vague but I'm gonna assume it just depends on the supervisor. Unless you're saying the department has its rules also?

So, in general, you don't really join the research team you're interested in until you're in your dissertation term, which is only 3 months. Is that correct?
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alleycat393
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(Original post by merigrey)
This is a bit vague but I'm gonna assume it just depends on the supervisor. Unless you're saying the department has its rules also?

So, in general, you don't really join the research team you're interested in until you're in your dissertation term, which is only 3 months. Is that correct?
It'll be a combination of supervisor flexibility and dept rules. You will be a short term student with little to no research experience so a lot of work for the supervisor and their team. If they agree to take you on they only have to do so during the stipulated research months of the course. The dept may enforce this as well to protect their research time. The supervisor may be flexible but that's down to them and their commitments.

You don't just join a team you are interested in. Most likely you will either get to choose from a bunch of pre-designed projects or will have to impress a supervisor enough to pick you from the bunch of students.
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by alleycat393)
Generally there are timelines for the start of the project. Some supervisors may be flexible but they don't have to be. Generally an MPhil is considered a failed PhD so I don't think that's a qualification you want to end up with. You may want to consider an MRes if you have a specific interest in research.
Depends on the university - at Cambridge the MPhil is their equivalent to an MA/MSc at other universities (and sometimes MRes) i.e. usually a taught masters with a research project or dissertation. Some are wholly research there though. I don't think you can generalise that an MPhil is a "failed PhD" as such, as it's offered by several universities as an equivalent to an MRes and as above, for Cambridge is the default masters course.

(Original post by merigrey)
Hello there. The main thing I wanna learn is, when you're doing MSc, are you allowed to start your reserach while taking your modules or not? (or does it depend on your supervisor?) The field is an interdisciplinary one, MPhil is gonna be in Electrical & Electronics Engineering, while MSc is gonna be in Physics or Materials.
I believe usually you'll start working on your literature review and similar while taking your taught courses, and then you normally do the bulk of the research (i.e. experimental aspects etc) after exams over the summer.

Bear in mind usually in the UK a 1 year masters is exactly that - 12 months. You aren't only working during term time, you will be working on research in the summer and often do some work over the lecture breaks in the winter and spring times. This is for a typical taught masters course.

There are also masters courses which are entirely research (and so you just do a 12 month research project) or a mixture of research and taught elements (i.e. more research than a typical "taught" masters course) where you might only do a couple taught modules in the first term alongside a literature review or similar and then spend more like 6-9 months on a research project (or some similar format).

As above, it's likely specific structures will vary between universities, courses, departments and supervisors, and these details are usually worked out with the students once you start. But those are common general formats and it's likely the course would be similar to one of the above, even if some specific details of when you start working on a project etc vary.
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alleycat393
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
Depends on the university - at Cambridge the MPhil is their equivalent to an MA/MSc at other universities (and sometimes MRes) i.e. usually a taught masters with a research project or dissertation. Some are wholly research there though. I don't think you can generalise that an MPhil is a "failed PhD" as such, as it's offered by several universities as an equivalent to an MRes and as above, for Cambridge is the default masters course.
I think Oxbridge is the only place where an MPhil means something different in this field to anywhere else. Most other places if you fail a PhD or aren't eligible to progress onto one you end up with an MPhil.
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merigrey
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Ah I see. I was really hoping to be more involved to be honest. In my country there is only 1 type of masters, which is like a British MSc+MRes (I think same system US has) but even when you're on your module term, you can start working in your supervisors lab/project, and even encouraged to do so (hell, some supervisors even drop students because they never go to lab and focus only their modules).
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alleycat393
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(Original post by merigrey)
Ah I see. I was really hoping to be more involved to be honest. In my country there is only 1 type of masters, which is like a British MSc+MRes (I think same system US has) but even when you're on your module term, you can start working in your supervisors lab/project, and even encouraged to do so (hell, some supervisors even drop students because they never go to lab and focus only their modules).
That's why I suggested looking for an MRes as that is a masters by research i.e most of your time is spent in the lab with few usually skills based taught modules.
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merigrey
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(Original post by alleycat393)
That's why I suggested looking for an MRes as that is a masters by research i.e most of your time is spent in the lab with few usually skills based taught modules.
The problem with that is, I need to do my dissertation on something quite specific, which is researched only in few unis, none of which offers an MRes
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alleycat393
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(Original post by merigrey)
The problem with that is, I need to do my dissertation on something quite specific, which is researched only in few unis, none of which offers an MRes
Sorry why? Is your masters sponsored by a company which stipulates that?
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merigrey
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(Original post by alleycat393)
Sorry why? Is your masters sponsored by a company which stipulates that?
Indeed I am a scholarship student, and our topics are predetermined.
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alleycat393
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(Original post by merigrey)
Indeed I am a scholarship student, and our topics are predetermined.
Ah ok fair enough. Good luck!
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by alleycat393)
I think Oxbridge is the only place where an MPhil means something different in this field to anywhere else. Most other places if you fail a PhD or aren't eligible to progress onto one you end up with an MPhil.
Manchester also uses the MPhil as their equivalent of an MRes i.e. a one year research masters, as far as I'm aware. Also "Oxbridge" even in of itself is a pretty notable exception...
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alleycat393
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
Manchester also uses the MPhil as their equivalent of an MRes i.e. a one year research masters, as far as I'm aware. Also "Oxbridge" even in of itself is a pretty notable exception...
Actually Manchester uses the MPhil as a progression point for a PhD which is mentioned multiple times on their website. The point is that that isn't how an MSc/MRes is perceived but is how an MPhil is. I don't think the OP is talking about Oxbridge. As above I said 'generally' and 'most places' so not 'everywhere' so this discussion is moot really.
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