MSc By Research

The MSc by Research is a one year full-time, or two year part-time, thesis based research degree for students looking for a research programme, but who may not be ready or able to commit to the three years' study required by a traditional PhD programme, e.g.:

  • People with work experience who only want to take one year out of industry (or two years part time) to complete a research degree;
  • Exceptional BSc students who want to take their final year project work further.*

The MSc by Research can be studied with a supervisor from any one of the School’s areas of cutting-edge research in: communications and sensing, health technologies, bioenergy and sustainability and understanding complex systems. Details of all our Research Groups can be found on the University website here and specific details on studying an MSc by Research in the Mathematics Group are here.

*Students may transfer to a PhD if the first few months go very well and necessary funding is in place.  

Research Project Proposal – Your Research Interests

The MSc by Research is based around a research area in which you wish to develop a viable project, linked to a supervisor who can support this research with relevant expertise. 

You will be required to submit a research proposal for the project you are interested in, however, your final research activity will be defined in consultation with your supervisor.

It is important that you clearly describe your area of research interest, as this will enable us to match you with potential supervisors or research groups more easily.

A good research proposal is one of the most important aspects of your application. This should confirm the quality of your ideas, your ability to think originally and critically, to ensure that you really understand the depth of investigation that your research will entail, and that you have a good understanding of the key theories and relevant literature.When writing your proposal you should consider the following points:

  • A proposed title of the research topic
  • Overview of the research area - You should provide a brief abstract of your intended research topic.
  •   Aim and development of the research problem – Demonstrate the practical importance of your research design and provide a brief but focused review of relevant research. In your review, highlight current thinking and research relating to the project and the gaps within this research.
  • Methodology - This section should demonstrate preliminary ideas about the project and how you intend to implement your research. You should specify and justify the approach you feel will be most appropriate.
  • Research planning and timelines - demonstrate your understanding of the need for planning and provide rough timelines detailing how you intended to structure your research.

Without a clear project proposal we will not be able to proceed with your application, so please ensure you take time to provide a clearly defined project idea.

Please note that a personal statement is not acceptable as a project proposal.

Training Programme and Assessment

MSc by Research students must submit a thesis for examination; the thesis is the primary focus of this degree.

As part of the MSc by Research, every student will complete the following training:

  • Research Skills and Professional Development (IS4001): a generic research skills module, delivered by the Centre for Staff and Graduate Development
  • Specialist Research Skills and Techniques (SE4101): this module is individually tailored to help students develop the specialist (i.e. subject and discipline specific) research knowledge and skills necessary for their project.
  • Creation of an Individual Training Plan: to be agreed with your supervisor at the outset and updated at the three monthly reviews.

MSc by Research students must submit a thesis for examination; the thesis is the primary focus of this degree.

All students must complete and pass the two research skills training modules (IS4001 and SE4101); assessment is based on coursework. These modules must be completed prior to the submission of the MSc by Research thesis. 

When should I apply?

The course can be studied on a one year Full-time or a two year Part-time basis, and starts in October each year. Please apply as early as possible to enable us to process your application in good time for the start of the course.

This is particularly important for international students who need extra time to apply for their Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) and visa.

Academic Entry Requirements

You should have been awarded, or expect to achieve, a first or upper second class Honours degree or a Master’s degree in a relevant subject (or an equivalent qualification from an overseas institution).

Please provide transcripts of the marks you have already achieved with your application. If your qualification is suitable and your grades are good, we would normally accept this as providing evidence of your research potential.

We also consider applicants who have substantial and significant work experience in a relevant field.   

English Language Entry Requirements

For applicants from non-English speaking countries, it is necessary to have taken one of the following English language courses accepted by the University, achieving the following scores:

  • TOEFL IBT: 93 (23 in Writing, 19 in Speaking, 18 in Reading and 19 in Listening)
  • IELTS: 6.5 (6.0 in Writing Speaking, Reading and Listening).
  • Pearsons English language test: 63 with no less than 57 in each band

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course.

However, if you hold a Bachelor or Master's degree from a UK university, this requirement may be waived. Further information can be found here, or you can contact the school for further information.


If you do not have a valid English language qualification this will be requested as a condition of any offer that is issued.

Applying Online

To submit an application you need to complete the on-line application process; details of this can be found here Select Master of Science by Research as the degree programme.

If you wish to apply for the Part-time course select the full-time option and the mode of attendance will be amended at the offer stage of the process.

Before submitting an application please view the Online application guidance notes here.

If you have any issues with the application process please email our IT helpdesk at

Please note: When progressing through the application form please use the hyperlinks/buttons at the bottom of each page and not your web browser back and forward buttons.


Start your application by going to the  online application form and selecting Master of Science by Research as the degree programme.


If you have any queries about the application process please contact the EAS Postgraduate Research Admissions team at