Accessibility statement

Guidance for departments on MA/MSc programmes by research

MA and MSc programmes by research are in general governed by Regulation 2, and by the University’s code of practice on research degrees.

Proposals from Boards of Studies or Graduate School Boards for new MA or MSc programmes by research must be submitted to University Teaching Committee for approval.

Section A

Candidates for the MA or MSc by research must follow an approved programme of research supervised by a member of academic staff. In a masters by research programme a student will complete a substantial piece of research, including original work, and be assessed solely on the basis of that research by two individually appointed examiners, one of whom should be external to the University.

Section B

The duration of such programmes is one year (full-time) or two years (part-time).

Section C

For admission to an MA or MSc programme by research, candidates will normally possess at least a second class honours degree or equivalent.

Section D

Each candidate must be supervised by a member of academic staff. Candidates must meet their supervisors not less than twice a term.

Section E

Each candidate must have a thesis advisory panel, comprising the supervisor and at least one other member of academic staff. The thesis advisory panel will meet with the student at least twice during the period of enrolment.

Section F

Candidates should have access to, and may be required by the department to undertake, appropriate training provided by the department for research students. Such training should be recorded in Skills Forge and students will not receive an academic transcript for modules undertaken.

Section G

Assessment for the award of the MA or MSc by research will normally be on the basis of a dissertation, but with the approval of the University Teaching Committee the assessment for a specified programme may be on the basis of other materials arising from research. The assessment will be wholly on the basis of the research dissertation (or other materials prescribed for the programme concerned), and of an oral examination, if required.

Section H

MA or MSc programmes by research may nevertheless contain a requirement that candidates should complete appropriate taught modules, in which case the level of attainment required of students must be clearly specified.

Section I

The length of the research dissertation and the nature and extent of any other materials to be examined shall be determined by the Board of Studies or Graduate School Board concerned.

Section J

A candidate for the MA or MSc by research should normally submit the dissertation (or other materials to be examined) to the Examinations Office for examination within three months of the end of the normal period of enrolment for the degree.

Section K

Candidates are required to prepare and submit for examination copies of their dissertation (or other materials to be examined) as specified in Regulation 2.7.2. The dissertation shall be presented in accordance with the University’s requirements.

Section L

Two examiners must be appointed individually for each candidate, including at least one external examiner. The Standing Committee on Assessment may approve requests from departments to retain a pool of external examiners for a programme over a specified period, who could examine individual candidates where they have appropriate expertise. The candidate’s supervisor may not act as internal examiner.

Section M

For the degree to be awarded, the examiners must be satisfied that the candidate has achieved outcomes appropriate to a masters-level qualification, that the dissertation or other materials submitted for examination are the candidate’s own work (or, if done in collaboration, that the candidate’s share in the research is adequate); that the candidate has an adequate understanding of research methods; and that the mode of presentation is satisfactory.

Section N

An oral examination may be a requirement of the programme. Where not required by the programme specification, an oral examination may nevertheless be required for an individual candidate, at the discretion of the examiners, in order to ensure that the work submitted for examination is the candidate’s own or that the candidate meets the standard required for the degree.

Section O

If an oral examination is not a requirement of the programme, the programme should specify other procedures (for example, an internal presentation by the candidate with the internal examiner present) to verify that the work submitted for examination is the candidate's work.

Section P

Following the examination, the examiners may at their discretion make one of the following recommendations:

  • (i) that the degree of MA or MSc by research should be awarded;
  • (ii) that the degree of MA or MSc by research should be awarded subject to minor corrections being made to the dissertation (or other materials submitted for examination), normally within one month of the candidate’s receiving notification of the corrections to be made, to the satisfaction of the internal or another of the examiners;
  • (iii) that the dissertation (or other materials submitted for examination) should be referred for resubmission, after a period of not more than three months of the candidate’s receiving notification of the revisions to be made, for the degree of MA or MSc by research; or
  • (iv) that no degree should be awarded.

A markscale is not applicable to MA or MSc programmes by research. The degree of MA or MSc by research may not be awarded with distinction. In the case of a referral, the examiners should provide advice in writing concerning the points which should be borne in mind by the candidate in revising the dissertation. This advice should be forwarded to the candidate by the supervisor or another appropriate member of staff.

Section Q

If the examiners recommend that the degree should be awarded, and following the completion, to the satisfaction of the internal or another of the examiners, of any minor corrections which the examiners may require, the candidate shall deposit copies of the dissertation in accordance with Regulation 2.7.9. These copies of the dissertation remain the property of the University.