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UK universities offer Postgraduate Research (PGR) courses at both master’s level and doctorate level. A Postgraduate Research (PGR) course qualifies students with a research-based higher degree. A PGR programme comprising a research component (including a requirement to produce original work) which is larger in terms of student effort than any accompanying taught component.
PGR degrees give you the opportunity for more independent study, with the chance to focus on more detailed research or projects. You will receive support and guidance from an expert supervisor throughout the course, but the focus of your programme will be on your own research work.
Usually, a UK Postgraduate Research master’s degree takes 1 year full-time study while a UK Postgraduate Research doctorate degree takes 3 to 4 years full-time study to complete. PGR masters are RQF level 7 while PGR doctorate courses are RQF level 8 qualifications.
Regular intakes at UK universities to study a PGR course are September and January. However, many UK universities have interim intakes and a few universities allow students to start it anytime of the year if an appropriate supervisor is available.
Types of Postgraduate Research (PGR) courses taken by international students include:
Level 7 to Level 8
Postgraduate Taught course
Full-time, part-time or on-line
1 year to 4 years
Throughout the year*
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Postgraduate taught master’s degrees can be studied in host of subject areas, depending on your previous study area and/or work experience. International students most popular choices for master’s course in the UK include:
|Course type||Course duration (Full time)|
|Research masters||1 year|
|Research Doctorate||3 years|
|Integrated Doctorate||4 years|
Tuition fees guide for Postgraduate Research (PGR) course in the UK
|Range||Tuition fees (GBP)|
|Low bands||£14,000 to £20,000|
|High bands*||£20,000 to £40,000|
* Laboratory based courses, bench fees, clinical courses, Russell Group universities etc.
Further Postgraduate Research (PGR) degree, progress to academic career as senior research fellow, associate or professor, senior researcher position, laboratory management position, scientist or research analyst with research councils or organisations
Check your admission eligibility for a postgraduate course in the UK
A An MRes is a RQF level 7 Postgraduate Research master’s course and requires to present the results of research carried out during the approved period of study and should demonstrate advanced understanding of the area of study. The course does not have any taught components like regular taught masters. In An MAD/MSD course, you’ll conduct independent research which you will then write up a dissertation, present and defend it in an oral examination, viva voce.
A An MRes is a RQF level 7 Postgraduate Research master’s course and involves undertaking a research project at Master’s level but places more emphasis on research skills than a traditional taught master’s degree. For students who wish to proceed to doctoral research, MRes study can be an excellent preparation for them. In An MRes course, you’ll conduct independent research which you will then write up as a thesis and present in an oral examination - also known as viva voce.
A An MPhil is a RQF level 7 Postgraduate Research master’s course which is considered as precursor of the PhD. It is normally a full-time one year course, can be studied as a stand-alone course or as part of an integrated doctorate course. In an MPhil course you will need to critically investigate and evaluate an approved topic, write a thesis and then present and defend this thesis by viva voce.
A A PhD also known as DPhil is a RQF level 8 Postgraduate Research doctorate course and considered as the highest level of degree that a student can achieve. It is normally a full time three year course in the UK. Students studying for a PhD are required to produce original research that expands the boundaries of knowledge, normally in the form of a thesis, and defend their work before a panel of other experts in the viva voce examination. On completion of a PhD degree, you will be entitled to use ‘Dr’ title before your name.
A Professional Doctorate courses are Postgraduate Research degrees at RQF level 8. These programmes take several different forms, but have in common the integration of professional and academic knowledge in a qualification which, whilst equivalent in status and challenge to a PhD, is designed for those pursuing professional rather than academic careers. In DProf courses, you will require to submit a thesis and defend it in viva voce examination. Like a PhD graduate, you can use ‘Dr’ title once you qualify with a professional doctorate course.
A A PhD by publication is a postgraduate research degree that's based on research you've already undertaken over a significant period of time (at least five to ten years) and have a number of publications arising from this work which have already been published. As well as submitting the published work, candidates for the PhD by Publication need to prepare a critical analysis of around 15,000 words and to undertake an oral examination (viva) on the critical analysis and the published work. The course is normally a part-time one and are available to faculty members.
A The Doctor of Medicine (MD) is a doctoral degree open to medical graduates and practitioners (technically, anyone holding a medical qualification that meets registration requirements with the General Medical Council). It is usually laboratory-based though it will focus on a specific clinical research topic. It is equivalent in requirements and format to the PhD.
A An Integrated Doctorate is a four-year full-time postgraduate research programme. Integrated Doctorates are referred to as ‘New Route’, ‘4 year’ or ‘1+3’ (MPhil + PhD/DPhil) programmes. Unlike stand-alone PhD graduates, Integrated Doctorate students will graduate with two separate qualifications: i) a RQF level 7 MPhil degree and ii) a RQF level 8 PhD/DPhil degree.
A To apply for a postgraduate research course, you will normally require the following documents including –
A Your application for PhD and postgraduate research masters courses must be supported by a written proposal for your theses. In the proposal, you should give clear, academically sound, description of the area that you intend to work in and the type of research that you are looking to undertake. The research proposal should describe ‘what’ you will investigate, ‘why’ it is important to investigate those and ‘how’ you will conduct the investigation. This will help universities to understand your interests, assess your ability to successfully complete a PhD or Postgraduate research masters courses and find an appropriate supervisor for you.
As a general guideline, a research proposal should be around 2,000 to 3,000 words that you write to outline the project you want to undertake – it is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research for your theses.
Your research proposal aims should be centred on –
A There is no formal structure for proposal; as a general guideline you may follow the following structure and suggestions that get positive outcomes –
A The research design and methodology is the most important part of the research proposal. The section should cover answers for questions as outlined below –
A The assessment of Postgraduate Research (PGR) courses for degree awards involve –
A A thesis is the acquisition and dissemination of new knowledge of learned and existing information, while the purpose of a dissertation is to develop a personal unique and original concept in a particular area of research.
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