Taught vs Research Masters: Which one is right for you?

By Anne Sexton - Last update

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If you are considering a Masters, you’ll know that many disciplines offer taught and research options. Which one you choose depends on a number of factors. These include the discipline; your focus area; your educational background; your career aspirations; and last, but not least, your lifestyle.

Taught Masters

As you would expect, during a taught programme you will expect to attend classes and seminars. You may also participate in online forums, lab work and similar activities. You will be assessed by handing in course work. You may also do exams. Finally, you will submit a thesis. So in many ways, this will be similar to your undergraduate experience.

If you don’t have a clear idea about your thesis topic this could be the best option for you. It is also a good idea to do a taught masters if you want to gain a wider knowledge about a field instead of honing in on a specific area.

However, you’ll also be using your research skills too. Your thesis has to be original and make a contribution to scholarship. A taught masters work is typically takes one or two years to complete.

Research Masters

If you have a clear understanding of your thesis or topic of specialization, a research masters may be best for you. It is also great practice for a PhD. You will gain lots of experience in working on your own and self-directing your studies.

While you won’t heavily participate in structured lectures and seminars, you will be assigned a mentor or senior academic. Your mentor will help you to write your proposal and guide you to your goal.

For research focused postgraduate work, you will submit a research proposal and complete extensive research. You will also analyse your findings and gain a deeper knowledge of your chosen topic. Finally, you will publish your findings. Your assessment is done through a judgement of your final results. It may also include an oral exam which evaluates your research, findings and analysis.


Anne Sexton

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