A master’s degree is usually counted as a Further Education degree that some students may take to specialise in a particular area or if they feel like changing career paths and learning something new. However, a master’s degree has two variations: a taught master’s degree and a research master’s degree. So, before deciding on a post-graduate university, you should know the difference between these two.

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Taught Master’s Degree

A Taught Master’s degree is more focused upon multiple assessments, assignments, and modules for the students. These taught degrees usually require the student to complete a dissertation or a research project before they graduate. Think of it as the next part of your undergraduate degree. Taught Master’s degrees are more popular around the world – such as a MA (Master of Arts) or an MSc (Master of Science). However, some institutes offer specific post-graduate certifications or diplomas that allow you to not go through the degree process.

Research Master’s Degree

Compared to a taught master’s degree, a research master’s is quite different in terms of course and structure.

The progression of a research master’s is more flexible. It does not require you to pick up multiple modules and take assessments for them.

In the beginning, it is most likely that you will have a basic introductory module to get a hang of the basics, but once done, it is mostly just focused on your work, and there are no timetables as such.

Throughout the degree, you will primarily focus on your research projects and carry out different studies to achieve your objectives.

An MRes (Master of Research) and MPhil (Master of Philosophy) are among the most common types of Master’s degrees.

The Differences between Taught VS Research Masters

There are significant differences between a taught master’s degree and a research master’s degree when it comes to the course and even the structure. A taught degree is more of a team-building experience since you get to work with your peers. However, a research degree focuses more on your individual work/research.

If you enjoy being in other people’s company and have a lot of friends, then a research degree may be too asocial for you.

Moreover, a research degree is more subject-specific, so if you want to learn a combination of things, you should choose a taught degree. Whereas in a Research Master’s degree, you get the option to choose one subject and perform extensive research upon it. So, it does require a lot of commitment – before deciding on a research master’s; you need to be sure of it. Even though both degrees require a 2:1 undergraduate experience or some equivalent work experience, the application process for both differ.

A taught master’s requires you to have relevant interest and some work in the particular field, but a research master’s is more complicated.

In a research master’s, you will first need to draft a research proposal. This proposal should lay out the main research question that you want to be answered in the degree. Not only that, but you will also need to prove why you should be selected to perform this research and show high knowledge and information regarding the subject.

Should You Choose a Taught Masters Degree?

A taught degree has more variety; it allows you to choose pretty much any subject to study and has a similar schedule and outline to your undergraduate degree – so it isn’t much change either.

A taught master’s degree is excellent if you have a specific career path in mind and the employment has certain eligibility criteria. Moreover, it is a perfect option for you to extend your knowledge on these subjects.

Benefits of a Taught Master’s

  • Multiple options available in terms of subjects
  • More opportunities for employment
  • More socialisation time with teachers and fellow mates

Drawbacks of a Taught Master’s

  • It does not have to be compulsory for the degree you want
  • It is costlier as compared to a Research Master’s
  • There isn’t much flexibility in the schedule

Should You Be Choosing a Research Masters?

A research master’s is seen as a way to obtain a PhD. Most students enrolled in an MRes or MSc program have done so to move up to the doctorate level and pursue a PhD degree.

As mentioned before, a research master’s provides you with more flexibility in your studying schedule and allows you to focus on the subject you have chosen entirely. It is also beneficial if you are choosing a career that requires expert research skills.


Benefits of a Research Master’s

  • It is built upon one subject that you chose.
  • Provides you with a small tutorial on how PhD life is
  • It helps if you are pursuing a research-driven career path

Drawbacks of a Research Master’s

  • It is a lonesome experience
  • There isn’t much variety of options available
  • Your skillset isn’t as vast as a taught master’s degree.

Can We Pursue a PhD after a Taught Master’s Degree?

PhD programs usually require applicants to have any relevant Master’s degree in the subject. So yes, if you have completed a Taught Master’s Degree, then you can enrol for a PhD.

However, if you have already decided on what you want to do a PhD in, it makes more sense to do a Research Master’s degree since it will be more relevant. An MRes is most recommended because it allows students to conduct extensive research on a particular subject and learn appropriate methods. Or you could register for an MPhil degree and then for a PhD.

Does the Tuition for a Taught Master’s Differ from a Research Master’s?

Mostly, a Research Master’s degree is cheaper than a Taught Master’s degree. Especially when it comes to subjects such as Humanities, an MRes degree is more affordable than an MA degree.

Furthermore, tuition fees for a PhD program are also cheaper than a Master’s degree.

However, if you choose science subjects, the fee isn’t much different; in most cases, an MSc and MRes for science have the exact cost.

The table below shows tentative fees schedules for different Master’s degrees to give you an idea:

Taught (classroom)MA (Arts / Social Sciences)£6,482£14,096
Taught (laboratory)MSc (Science / Engineering)£7,555£16,222
ResearchMRes / MPhil£4,000+£10,000+
Tentative fees schedules for different Master’s degrees

Do Taught Master’s Degrees and Research Master’s Degree Have the Same Funding?

Mostly, the funding for a taught master’s degree and a research master’s degree is the same. You can also check out research master’s degree or taught Master’s degree funding online.

Moreover, in the UK, you can easily apply for and receive a loan for postgraduate education, including an MPhil. However, if you are an MPhil student but do not intend to pursue a PhD, you are not available for the PhD loan, but if you intend on applying for a PhD, you may be eligible for this loan in the UK.

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Final Thoughts

All in all, pursuing a master’s degree is an essential aspect of further education, and it allows you to learn and explore a lot more in the field of your choice.

Are still you confused between a Taught Master’s degree and a Research Master’s degree? Reach out to us, and our experts will guide you through it.


What are the benefits of a Research Master’s?

It is built upon one subject that you chose and provides you with a small tutorial on how PhD life is. It helps if you are pursuing a research-driven career path.

What is Taught Master’s Degree?

A Taught Master’s degree is more focused upon multiple assessments, assignments, and modules for the students. These taught degrees usually require the student to complete a dissertation or a research project before they graduate.

Which is better taught masters or research masters?

If you want to increase your employability by learning more about a particular field, a taught master’s degree is usually the best choice. This is especially true if you have your sights set on a specific profession that calls for unique training.

What is the difference between a taught and research masters?

There is an equivalent amount of reading, writing, and research required for both formats of course. When compared to self-study, however, the organisation and topics covered in a classroom setting are more familiar. It has more assessment units than a research-based course, which emphasises research and writing more extensively.