What are the different types of university degree?

When you're looking for the right course to study at university, you'll come across a variety of different qualifications and types of degree.

If you're wondering what's the difference between an undergraduate degree and a master's, we can help. We've pulled together a guide to the variety of awards and research opportunities we offer, so you can find the type of degree that's right for you.

Undergraduate degrees

This is your first university degree. Once you’ve completed your studies at school or college, you can progress to complete an undergraduate degree. Undergraduate students are usually students who haven’t completed a degree course before.

Undergraduate degrees are also known as Bachelor’s degrees, including degrees with honours. They often have the abbreviation BA (Hons), for arts subjects, and BSc (Hons), for science subjects.

View our undergraduate degrees

Master’s degrees/postgraduate taught degrees

This is the degree you can complete after your undergraduate degree, to advance your knowledge in a more specialised area. You may see this type of degree referred to as a master’s or postgraduate taught degree but both names mean the same thing.

Most masters degrees last one year full time or two years part time. They often have the abbreviation MA, for arts subjects, or MSc, for science subjects.

We also offer a variety of Master of Research (MRes) degrees. These are research-based master's degrees that provide an advanced foundation of research skills. MRes courses are ideal preparation for progressing onto a postgraduate research degree. 

View our master's degrees

Postgraduate research degrees

A postgraduate research degree involves completing an independent and unique research project in your chosen area of study. You'll learn research techniques that prepare you for a future career in research or academia. There are several different types of research degree.

Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

The Master of Philosophy requires skills in research, planning appropriate training and project management. This qualification is often completed by students who want to progress to complete a PhD.

Doctor in Philosophy (PhD)

A doctoral degree is awarded to students that have demonstrated the ability to conceptualise, design, and implement a substantial research project that results in new knowledge, applications, or understanding in their field of study.

There are two main ways of progressing on to PhD study. If you can self-fund or bring your own funding (such as government funding, if you are an overseas applicant), you will generally expect to negotiate the project of your choice with a potential supervisor. Studentship opportunities funded by the university or an external funder such as a Research Council (or both) operate in a more formal way, resembling a job application.

Doctor of Medicine

The Doctor of Medicine (MD) is a doctoral degree open to medical practitioners. This can be anyone holding a medical qualification registrable with the General Medical Council. It is equivalent in requirements and format to the PhD.

Professional Doctorates

Professional Doctorates take several different forms, but have in common the integration of professional and academic knowledge. The qualification is equivalent in status and challenge to a PhD but designed for those pursuing professional rather than academic careers.

View our postgraduate research degrees

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