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What happens if I apply for an MSc?

For the sake of exploring all options (again), what is the difference between MSci+PhD (4+4=8 yrs) and BSc+MSc+PhD (3+1+4=also 8yrs)? I'm looking to go into biomed research.

Also, I'm an international student. If I do a BSc and then apply for an MSc, what happens to my student visa?
Original post by sleep_supremacy
For the sake of exploring all options (again), what is the difference between MSci+PhD (4+4=8 yrs) and BSc+MSc+PhD (3+1+4=also 8yrs)? I'm looking to go into biomed research.

Also, I'm an international student. If I do a BSc and then apply for an MSc, what happens to my student visa?


If you do the MSci you don't get the chance to change institution and you probably don't get the chance to specialise is as much detail as you would in the 3 degree route.
Original post by threeportdrift
If you do the MSci you don't get the chance to change institution and you probably don't get the chance to specialise is as much detail as you would in the 3 degree route.

Really? I was under the impression that the 4th year of an MSci was exactly the same as an MSc or MRes.
4 year integrated degrees are typically slightly less prestigious than two separate degrees, at least as far as cv/resumes go

if you do the msci you'll probably have the option to swap to the bsc during the second year (depending on course provider) whereas if you do the bsc you are less likely to have that
Original post by HoldThisL
4 year integrated degrees are typically slightly less prestigious than two separate degrees, at least as far as cv/resumes go

if you do the msci you'll probably have the option to swap to the bsc during the second year (depending on course provider) whereas if you do the bsc you are less likely to have that

4 year integrated degrees are typically slightly less prestigious than two separate degrees- But I've heard that an MSci is best for doing a PhD. And that employers don't care about the difference?

if you do the msci you'll probably have the option to swap to the bsc during the second year- I'm international and it apparently messes up your student visa every which way if you switch midway :redface:
Original post by sleep_supremacy
Really? I was under the impression that the 4th year of an MSci was exactly the same as an MSc or MRes.


No, not really. It's certainly nothing like an MRes which is more like a mini-PhD, ie a single piece of standalone research. It's also less like an MSc though it depends on the detail of each specific syllabus, ie you have to look at the content of each course, but mostly the 4th year of an MSci still uses the generalist resources of the undergrad degree to allow some specialisation. An MSc can be, if you select the right one, highly specialised - especially as you can change institution to seek other departments/Supervisors with specific research interests.
Original post by sleep_supremacy
4 year integrated degrees are typically slightly less prestigious than two separate degrees- But I've heard that an MSci is best for doing a PhD. And that employers don't care about the difference?

if you do the msci you'll probably have the option to swap to the bsc during the second year- I'm international and it apparently messes up your student visa every which way if you switch midway :redface:


employers definitely prefer two degrees over one integrated. source: i do entry level interviews

msci may be best for a phd, i don't know, i'm not an academic

changing your course will of course impact your visa but i doubt its more than some headache-y paperwork
Original post by threeportdrift
No, not really. It's certainly nothing like an MRes which is more like a mini-PhD, ie a single piece of standalone research. It's also less like an MSc though it depends on the detail of each specific syllabus, ie you have to look at the content of each course, but mostly the 4th year of an MSci still uses the generalist resources of the undergrad degree to allow some specialisation. An MSc can be, if you select the right one, highly specialised - especially as you can change institution to seek other departments/Supervisors with specific research interests.

So what I'm gathering is that an MRes is the best option for a PhD?

...but mostly the 4th year of an MSci still uses the generalist resources of the undergrad degree to allow some specialisation- What does this mean lmao
Original post by HoldThisL
employers definitely prefer two degrees over one integrated. source: i do entry level interviews

msci may be best for a phd, i don't know, i'm not an academic

changing your course will of course impact your visa but i doubt its more than some headache-y paperwork

employers definitely prefer two degrees over one integrated. source: i do entry level interviews- Oh. :colonhash:

...but i doubt its more than some headache-y paperwork- I hope not!
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by sleep_supremacy
So what I'm gathering is that an MRes is the best option for a PhD?

...but mostly the 4th year of an MSci still uses the generalist resources of the undergrad degree to allow some specialisation- What does this mean lmao


It means what it says, a department has a whole bunch of equipment, lab space and lecturers that knock out undergrad lectures without much touching their research, the MSci year is just a more advanced repeat of that. MSc are more likely (but not always - do the research) about a more focussed specialisation, led by an academic/a few academics that had space/equipment and staff more focussed on that specialisation.

Everyone knows that integrated Masters are just a way to get an extra year of funding out of students easily and cheaply, because SFE will fund the year (for home students). An MRes is not necessarily 'the best option' for a PhD, and Masters level dissertation will be enough, and the taught element may be key in deciding your area of research.
Original post by sleep_supremacy
For the sake of exploring all options (again), what is the difference between MSci+PhD (4+4=8 yrs) and BSc+MSc+PhD (3+1+4=also 8yrs)? I'm looking to go into biomed research.

Also, I'm an international student. If I do a BSc and then apply for an MSc, what happens to my student visa?

The primary difference is the funding model for home students - undergraduate MSci courses are capped fees for home students, and eligible for full SFE undergraduate funding. Postgraduate masters funding is much more limited for home students and fees are uncapped. In your case as an international student though, this is much less likely to be a notable difference.

I can't comment too much on the visa situation - you may need to reapply for a new student visa if you are reapplying to a new 1 year masters course at the end of your 3 year bachelors, or there may be a way to extend it. Not really sure! The MSci will presumably eliminate that potential issue, although it may be a non-issue anyway.

In the long run both are perfectly suitable routes to a PhD - the MSci format might make it a bit easier, particularly if you're an international student, because you will be able to apply in the final year of the MSci to PhDs and secure appropriate references etc as you should have suitable staff who know you well enough over the three years preceding to write these in advance of PhD deadlines.

If you do an MSc at a different uni to where you did your BSc, it's much more likely you won't be able to organise a suitable reference as you will only be fairly early in the course then, and so fairly likely you would need to apply for PhDs in the year after you complete the MSc. Also because MSc courses run for a calendar year normally, and because PhDs normally require you meet all requirements by a certain point in the summer before starting, your MSc may simply run too long to be considered for PhDs in the academic year following your MSc course starting.

In both cases, you would then have a year where you are applying to the PhDs, while not a student. This may thus have visa ramifications.

Original post by sleep_supremacy
Really? I was under the impression that the 4th year of an MSci was exactly the same as an MSc or MRes.

Not really, it's more of a bridge between undergraduate level and "true" masters level work. I believe most UK masters degrees are 180 credits, whereas 1 year of undergraduate study is 120 credits. Therefore a masters is necessarily more intensive (although also they usually last for a calendar year, as opposed to an academic year). Typically the dissertation/thesis/project is more substantial in an MSc, and it may be more likely you'd be expected to do more original research in it. For the taught elements you may have different assignments to the undergraduate takers if they are shared between the two, and there may be MSc exclusive modules that undergraduate students can't take.
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by threeportdrift
It means what it says, a department has a whole bunch of equipment, lab space and lecturers that knock out undergrad lectures without much touching their research, the MSci year is just a more advanced repeat of that. MSc are more likely (but not always - do the research) about a more focussed specialisation, led by an academic/a few academics that had space/equipment and staff more focussed on that specialisation.

Everyone knows that integrated Masters are just a way to get an extra year of funding out of students easily and cheaply, because SFE will fund the year (for home students). An MRes is not necessarily 'the best option' for a PhD, and Masters level dissertation will be enough, and the taught element may be key in deciding your area of research.

Ok so my unis have 40, 60 and 80 credits respectively (not sure if I should be naming?) in their 4th MSci year, is that enough credits for a research project? Is there a minimum of credits needed?
Original post by artful_lounger
The primary difference is the funding model for home students - undergraduate MSci courses are capped fees for home students, and eligible for full SFE undergraduate funding. Postgraduate masters funding is much more limited for home students and fees are uncapped. In your case as an international student though, this is much less likely to be a notable difference.

I can't comment too much on the visa situation - you may need to reapply for a new student visa if you are reapplying to a new 1 year masters course at the end of your 3 year bachelors, or there may be a way to extend it. Not really sure! The MSci will presumably eliminate that potential issue, although it may be a non-issue anyway.

In the long run both are perfectly suitable routes to a PhD - the MSci format might make it a bit easier, particularly if you're an international student, because you will be able to apply in the final year of the MSci to PhDs and secure appropriate references etc as you should have suitable staff who know you well enough over the three years preceding to write these in advance of PhD deadlines.

If you do an MSc at a different uni to where you did your BSc, it's much more likely you won't be able to organise a suitable reference as you will only be fairly early in the course then, and so fairly likely you would need to apply for PhDs in the year after you complete the MSc. Also because MSc courses run for a calendar year normally, and because PhDs normally require you meet all requirements by a certain point in the summer before starting, your MSc may simply run too long to be considered for PhDs in the academic year following your MSc course starting.

In both cases, you would then have a year where you are applying to the PhDs, while not a student. This may thus have visa ramifications.


Not really, it's more of a bridge between undergraduate level and "true" masters level work. I believe most UK masters degrees are 180 credits, whereas 1 year of undergraduate study is 120 credits. Therefore a masters is necessarily more intensive (although also they usually last for a calendar year, as opposed to an academic year). Typically the dissertation/thesis/project is more substantial in an MSc, and it may be more likely you'd be expected to do more original research in it. For the taught elements you may have different assignments to the undergraduate takers if they are shared between the two, and there may be MSc exclusive modules that undergraduate students can't take.

If you do an MSc at a different uni to where you did your BSc, it's much more likely you won't be able to organise a suitable reference- So it's better to do an MSci? Threeportdrift just said the opposite.

although also they usually last for a calendar year, as opposed to an academic year- Isn't that the same?

Typically the dissertation/thesis/project is more substantial in an MSc- So does it weigh more than an MSci when applying for a PhD?

I'm not sure whether it's good or bad to stay for like 5 years at the same uni or not.
Original post by sleep_supremacy
If you do an MSc at a different uni to where you did your BSc, it's much more likely you won't be able to organise a suitable reference- So it's better to do an MSci? Threeportdrift just said the opposite.

although also they usually last for a calendar year, as opposed to an academic year- Isn't that the same?

Typically the dissertation/thesis/project is more substantial in an MSc- So does it weigh more than an MSci when applying for a PhD?

I'm not sure whether it's good or bad to stay for like 5 years at the same uni or not.


It's not better in the long run, but in the shorter run does throw up some additional hurdles potentially in getting a suitable reference during the course (rather than waiting until after you finish it).

Also no, the undergraduate academic year normally lasts ~October to June. The calendar year for an MSci is usually then ~October to ~October. So, you don't get the summer as "vacation" and will be expected to be at the uni doing work (usually on the dissertation thesis).

As for it "weighing more" I think that's not so easily quantified. Generally though I expect an MSc thesis would be longer (in terms of word count) and consequently have more depth. This may give you more relevant experiences to draw on when crafting your PhD proposal and/or in interview. However people do go from MSci courses to PhDs very commonly. So neither is really better or worse I think in statistical terms.

You need to realise this is not a black and white situation. There are benefits and downsides to both options, and both options can get you to the PhD. Depending on your exact situation, interests, where you would be studying for the degree(s) and other factors, one or the other may become somewhat more favourable.

That said, the important thing to remember is you don't actually need to make this decision until at least second year of the BSc/MSci. Because normally you can swap between the BSc and MSci versions of an undergraduate degree up until second year of the course anyway. So you may want to just apply to the BSc and then figure it out once you're settled and have more of a sense of what you might be doing in terms of specialism etc.

I suggest to apply to the BSc and not MSci because @PQ has noted for international students it's apparently easier for them to extend the visa if you swap to the MSci, than for them to "shorten" it if you are initially on the MSci.
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by artful_lounger
It's not better in the long run, but in the shorter run does throw up some additional hurdles potentially in getting a suitable reference during the course (rather than waiting until after you finish it).

Also no, the undergraduate academic year normally lasts ~October to June. The calendar year for an MSci is usually then ~October to ~October. So, you don't get the summer as "vacation" and will be expected to be at the uni doing work (usually on the dissertation thesis).

As for it "weighing more" I think that's not so easily quantified. Generally though I expect an MSc thesis would be longer (in terms of word count) and consequently have more depth. This may give you more relevant experiences to draw on when crafting your PhD proposal and/or in interview. However people do go from MSci courses to PhDs very commonly. So neither is really better or worse I think in statistical terms.

You need to realise this is not a black and white situation. There are benefits and downsides to both options, and both options can get you to the PhD. Depending on your exact situation, interests, where you would be studying for the degree(s) and other factors, one or the other may become somewhat more favourable.

That said, the important thing to remember is you don't actually need to make this decision until at least second year of the BSc/MSci. Because normally you can swap between the BSc and MSci versions of an undergraduate degree up until second year of the course anyway. So you may want to just apply to the BSc and then figure it out once you're settled and have more of a sense of what you might be doing in terms of specialism etc.

I suggest to apply to the BSc and not MSci because @PQ has noted for international students it's apparently easier for them to extend the visa if you swap to the MSci, than for them to "shorten" it if you are initially on the MSci.

It's not better in the long run, but in the shorter run does throw up some additional hurdles potentially in getting a suitable reference during the course- Wait, are you talking about the MSci or MSc?

You need to realise this is not a black and white situation- I'm aware, which is why I'm asking around, to try and make as informed a choice as possible :biggrin:

I suggest to apply to the BSc and not MSci- Currently I've got 2 BSc and 3 MSci in my UCAS choices, let's see which one ends up being better!

...for international students it's apparently easier for them to extend the visa if you swap to the MSci- Is there any link or something I can read to get more info on this? Thanks :smile:
Original post by sleep_supremacy
It's not better in the long run, but in the shorter run does throw up some additional hurdles potentially in getting a suitable reference during the course- Wait, are you talking about the MSci or MSc?

You need to realise this is not a black and white situation- I'm aware, which is why I'm asking around, to try and make as informed a choice as possible :biggrin:

I suggest to apply to the BSc and not MSci- Currently I've got 2 BSc and 3 MSci in my UCAS choices, let's see which one ends up being better!

...for international students it's apparently easier for them to extend the visa if you swap to the MSci- Is there any link or something I can read to get more info on this? Thanks :smile:


I was referring to the MSc. When I say "not better" I also note specifically I do not mean "worse". I simply mean "not better". They're the same in the long run. It doesn't matter. But as noted, in the short run it has certain considerations you need to be aware of. The same is true of the MSci though.

This was based on what @PQ stated, as they have a lot of experience with that, due to working in the higher education sector and presumably dealing with both applications from international students and potentially the follow up issues if a student does change their course length! I trust that it is accurate on surface value as that user has a long track record of very informational and insightful posting :smile: Whether you do or not is up to you, the simplest way to verify owuld probably be to contact UKVI and ask what the process would be to change the length of the visa to one year longer vs one year shorter.
Original post by artful_lounger
I was referring to the MSc. When I say "not better" I also note specifically I do not mean "worse". I simply mean "not better". They're the same in the long run. It doesn't matter. But as noted, in the short run it has certain considerations you need to be aware of. The same is true of the MSci though.

This was based on what @PQ stated, as they have a lot of experience with that, due to working in the higher education sector and presumably dealing with both applications from international students and potentially the follow up issues if a student does change their course length! I trust that it is accurate on surface value as that user has a long track record of very informational and insightful posting :smile: Whether you do or not is up to you, the simplest way to verify owuld probably be to contact UKVI and ask what the process would be to change the length of the visa to one year longer vs one year shorter.

Thanks for clarifying :smile:

What considerations exist for an MSci? I thought that it would be pretty smooth since it's clubbed with your BSc.

I'll look into contacting UKVI for the student visa and ask them.
Original post by sleep_supremacy
Thanks for clarifying :smile:

What considerations exist for an MSci? I thought that it would be pretty smooth since it's clubbed with your BSc.

I'll look into contacting UKVI for the student visa and ask them.

The caveat of the MSci is mostly that you may not be exposed to the "real" world of academic research and have as much depth of experience of that as a result
Original post by artful_lounger
The caveat of the MSci is mostly that you may not be exposed to the "real" world of academic research and have as much depth of experience of that as a result

But even then it's considered the best route for a PhD, which is literally just academic research? Weird. Why is everything so confusing? :shifty:

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