Taught MasterThere are a wide variety of master's programmes available in the UK and they are hugely popular with overseas students as they are recognized and respected the world over. Courses usually last from 9 to 12 months, offering fantastic value for money as students make significant savings in fees and accommodation compared with other destinations. Crucially too, they can be return and access the work place quicker. These programmes are intensive and will cover the same amount of material, at the same depth as other countries traditional two year programmes. Although the working day can be long, students also learn transferable skills such as working under pressure and time management; employees recognize these traits therefore the UK one-year master's programme is very much in demand with employers. In the UK, students can opt to complete a specialist programme (if they have the requisite background) and can study in their chosen field at great depth. Alternatively there are conversion courses available allowing students to change their area of study. For example, if a student has completed a 1st degree in history, but is interested in business, they can opt to complete a master's degree in business that will build on the transferable skills that the student has already learned. If you are not sure about what course best fits your needs, don't worry, your UKEAS counsellor is there to help you!
MA / MSc / MBA / MLitt / MEd / MEng / MMus
The above are titles for the various master's degrees on offer in the UK. Some of them denote the area of specialization such as the Master's for Engineering (MEng) Law (LLM) or Music MMus). Most courses though will fall under the MA or the MSc nomenclature in England and Wales whereas Scottish Universities will generally offer the MLitt or the MSc. The title makes no difference to the degree as all courses are routinely assessed by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA).
In some instances it is possible to see some business courses that are classed as an MA at one university and an MSc at others. The main distinction between these is the MSc generally tends to be more quantitative so candidates who are not so comfortable with mathematics should opt for an MA programme. The UKEAS counsellors will offer more information on this.
Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip)
The post graduate diploma can be awarded to candidates that have completed all their course work and exams, but have not progressed to the dissertation. Some universities may also offer students a Pg Dip as preparation for the master's programme if they feel that the student is not ready to undertake a master's degree.
Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert)
The post graduate certificate can be offered to students who have completed half of the modules required for the post graduate diploma. In addition, some students will opt to enrol on a part of a vocational master's degree so that they can continue their professional development. It is unusual for overseas students to apply for entry to a Post Graduate Certificate. If in doubt about the status of the course you hope to study, please ask for advice from your counsellor.
Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
The MPhil is a two year research programme and is a stepping stone towards the PhD. Students interested in signing up for a PhD will almost always be registered for the MPhil and will need to successfully complete this before being allowed to progress to the PhD. In the first 9 months of the MPhil, students will generally spend time discussing the subject of interest with their professor as well as developing research techniques to ensure that they are well prepared to collect the data they will need to analyse. Successful completion of this will lead students to spend the remaining time gathering data and preparing to write up their thesis. Progression to the PhD is dependent on students passing their exams at the end of the MPhil.
Non-native speakers need to complete an IELTS, TOEFL or Pearsons test before they can progress onto a master's degree. Should the student's score be slightly lower that the required score, many universities will allow students to arrive at the university early to study. For example, if a student has an offer subject to an IELTS of 6.5, and they gain a score of 6.0, they may be allowed to attend 5 week presessional. A presessional can be beneficial for students that have met the required score: anecdotal evidence suggests that students do better on their master's programme if they have completed a presessional as they are better prepared for their course of study.