Master’s degree in the UK

It is not uncommon for students to decide to do their graduate studies abroad, which gives prestige, strengthens the curriculum and languages and is not a bad thing when looking for work.

As in any study selection process, you have certainly already got yourself a pen and paper (real or imaginary) and started to list all the pros and cons of each master’s degree, what would interest you to learn or not to learn, the cost involved… Finally, all those questions that, in one way or another, we have to answer.

The United Kingdom finally came out on top. Well, you went on the Internet to look up the information and register… and you find yourself confused because you have understood absolutely nothing.

Types of Master’s degrees in the UK

To begin with, Masters programmes in the UK fall into two broad categories: taught programmes and research programmes.

a) Taught programmes

These Masters have little to do with academic research, and focus on training students in a concrete field, the one we are interested in.  Within the taught programmes, there are 4 other subclasses, which allow us to refine our research.

  • Master of Science (MSc): Master of Pure Science
  • Master of Arts (MA): Master of Social Sciences
  • Master of Laws (LLM): Master of Laws
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA): Master of Business Management.

These are, to describe them as such, the families of Masters available. Not to be confused with the name of the Master in itself, it is simply a way to integrate the curriculum within a larger group.

In other words, if you want to study a Master in Applied Chemistry, what you should look for is the MSc (Master of Science) in Applied Chemistry. This applies to any other field.

The list we can make on this subject is almost unlimited, we restrict ourselves to give an example of each one so that you can all see which one would be the one you are looking for without referring to the “family” it is associated with.

  • MSc in Applied Chemistry: Master (of Pure Sciences) in Applied Chemistry.
  • MA in Websites Design and Management: Master (of Social Sciences) in Website Design and Management.
  • LLM in International Relationships: Master (Law) in International Relations.
  • MBA in Media Management: Master’s degree in Media Management.

These courses usually only last one year, so if you decide to take one, when you start to do the accounts for accommodation, travel and other things, take this into account.

b) Research programmes

These Masters are much more focused on academic research, so there are far fewer courses. They are the first step for the PhD (which in the UK is called PhD: PhilosophiƦ Doctor). If you decide to pursue one, you will simply have to submit a thesis in order to be accepted.

There are two subclasses of research programmes:

  • Master in Philosophy (MPhil)
  • Master in Research (MRes)

Mphil have more courses than MRes, and therefore last longer, usually at least two years.

Another thing: having completed a taught programme does not exclude the possibility of a PhD. The difference is that if you go that route, you will first have to take a doctoral course that lasts three years.

Studying for a Master’s degree in the UK: which university to choose?

After this little masterclass on Masters, sorry for the repetition, we now have to choose a university.

Maybe you don’t want to study at Oxford because there isn’t exactly the course you’re looking for while in Leeds, for example. Therefore, that’s why it’s important that you look for the specific degree you want to study, and go to this city and not another.

Let us talk about the skills that universities require to take these courses. There are mainly three: academic skills or entry requirements, language skills or English language requirements and tasas or fees.

The entry requirements refer to an academic record. The grade you have received for your degree. They are classified into 5 “honours”.

These are the honours and equivalency qualifications that we know about. They refer to the average grade you got in your degree:

  • Ordinary degree: < 5
  • Thrid class honours: 5 – 5.99
  • Lower second class honours: 6 – 7.49
  • Upper second class honours: 7.50 – 9
  • First class honours: 9 – 10

As a general rule they require at least one lower second class to enter each Master’s degree, although some universities ask for good honours, which means that you must have at least a 7.5 average in your courses to enter them.

The language they ask for is a B2 from the language school. Normally you will need to take a test, ideally you should have an academic IELTS with a score of 6 or 7, but having obtained the Baccalaureate with a normal level of English should be enough for you to learn quickly.

Registration and Fees

The fees you will have to pay are the tuition fees and cover everything you need for your training: materials, courses, etc. The technical name given to them by the British is tuition fees, and if you see that you can’t afford the fees, don’t worry: the system of scholarships and grants to study in the UK is very generous and they will surely be able to help you.

Also note that in Wales, the state pays 40% of the tuition, and in Scotland at least the first year of school is free.

Once you have clarified all this, and you know which Master’s degree to study, and which university to choose, you just have to go to their web page and register.

More and more universities have an online registration system on their website, but if for some reason you can’t do it directly from there, you can download a PDF document that is available for you to fill in by hand and send.

There is also a third way, which is becoming more and more obsolete: the UKPass Aplication. This is a service offered by Undergraduate Courses At University And College (UCAS). With this system, it is the state agency itself that sends the application form to the university.

The UKPass is only used when the university does not offer its own application form.

With this information, finding and registering for your dream Master’s degree should be a piece of cake.


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