Masters by Research

At its 30 June 2008 meeting Senate approved the introduction of a Masters by Research programme. This programme has now been incorporated in the University’s Regulations and TQA Manual. In their scrutiny of it the Postgraduate Faculty Board (now stood down) noted that:

The Masters by Research degree programme is aimed at those, in particular international candidates, who want a qualification with a significant research element but who are not necessarily planning to progress to doctoral study.

For more information see the paper which went to Education Committee (now stood down) proposing the introduction of a Masters by Research: TEC/08/33 Master by Research.

Colleges should note that in order to offer the Masters by Research programme, you must fill in the form available for download from the general Programme Development page. Any Masters by Research which are being offered with a title already in use for MPhil/PhD programmes do not require specific approval.

Masters by Research FAQs

Programme Setup

Is an MbyRes offered in my subject?

The MbyRes programme hasn’t been established in all subject areas and is set up on request. Those subjects which offer an MbyRes are clearly identified on the prospectus pages: check your subject on the research degree index for further details if you are unsure.

How do I setup an MbyRes?

The process for establishing an MbyRes programme is simple; providing the establishment of this programme is supported in your College, then you should talk to the PGR Quality and Standards Team with regards to the completion of a MbyRes, which provides the necessary details to setup the programme on SITS, allowing advertisement of and registration to the programme. See the programme development page for more details.


Explaining the MbyRes

What level of award is the MbyRes?

The MbyRes is a Masters level award: it is awarded at the same level as the MPhil and the MSc, which is FHEQ level 7. The learning outcomes for the award are set out in the Regulations:

In assessing the dissertation, the examiners will require:  

(a)  evidence that it extends the knowledge of the subject

(b)  evidence of the candidate's ability to relate the subject matter of the dissertation to the existing body of knowledge within the field

(c)  a satisfactory level of literary presentation

What is the difference between an MbyRes and an MRes?

The MbyRes stands for either Master of Arts by Research or Master of Science by Research. This Masters is awarded on the basis of a piece of original research alone, therefore it is akin to the PhD, albeit at level 7 and with a dissertation size of 40,000 words. It sits within the Faculty of Graduate Research and procedures applicable to the MPhil and PhD are applicable to the MbyRes.

The MRes stands for Master of Research. This Masters is credit bearing and awarded on the basis of completion of at least 180 credits worth of taught modules. It sits within the Faculty of Taught Programmes and procedures applicable to other taught Masters programmes are applicable to the MRes.

The simple answer is that the MRes is a preparatory programme providing research training whilst the MbyRes is a Masters awarded for doing research.

What is the difference between the MbyRes and the MPhil?

Both awards sit at the same level (FHEQ level 7) and are awarded on confirmation of having successfully met the same set of outcomes. The primary difference is in the breadth of research: the MbyRes has a maximum word limit of 40,000 words whilst the MPhil has a limit of 60,000 words. Therefore, whilst it is possible to transfer between the MbyRes and the MPhil prior to submission, a Board of Examiners may not make a recommendation to award the candidate of an unsuccessful MPhil an MbyRes.

Who is the MbyRes designed for?

The MbyRes is not restrictive in terms of audience, however the primary motivation behind its establishment was to provide a programme for those, in particular international candidates, who wanted a qualification with a significant research element but who were not necessarily planning to progress to doctoral study. For example, this might apply to those who might not be able to take the time necessary to complete a longer research programme such as the PhD, e.g. candidates who are currently working and who may only be able to take a limited time away from their job (perhaps sponsored by their employer), and/or who have only access to a limited pool of funding (i.e. very short term studentships).

The programme may also be useful for candidates that a department thinks may have promise but who do not initially appear suitable for entrance to the PhD. Candidates can not apply to upgrade to doctoral study, but may apply to transfer programme to either a doctoral programme or to an MPhil, on programmes where it is normal practice to require candidates to register for an MPhil/PhD programme. MbyRes students who transfer to an MPhil may still be required to undertake an upgrade process from MPhil to PhD.

Programme Details

What does a candidate have to submit for the award of an MbyRes?

The MbyRes is assessed by a dissertation. The maximum length of the dissertation is 40,000 words. The MbyRes is governed by the ‘Presentation of Theses/Dissertations for Degrees in the Faculty of Graduate Research: Statement of Procedures’, and therefore the guidance on the inclusion of previously published papers and alternative forms of submission also applies to the MbyRes.

Is there an MbyRes by publication?

In common with other research degrees it is possible to apply to the University with an existing body of publications for the award of a by publication degree. The Regulations for the MbyRes by publication provide further details.

What is the period of study for the MbyRes?

Please see the Statement of Procedures: Periods of registration and changes to registration status for graduate research students for entrants from the academic year 2019-20

Are candidates registered on the MbyRes appointed a supervisor?

Yes, the MbyRes is a research degree and as such the same requirements with regard to the appointment of supervisors and mentors apply to this programme. From October 2011 MbyRes candidates will also be able to keep track of their progress via MyPGR.