A Master's degree is an academic qualification which offers a higher level of expertise than a Bachelor's. They usually take one year full-time or two years part-time, followed by a dissertation. Master's degrees are often more specialised than undergraduate degrees. For example, someone studying Biomedical Sciences at undergraduate level, could choose to study 'Human Complex Trait Genetics' or 'Quantitative Genetics & Genome Analysis' for their master’s.
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Master's students, choose from either a taught or research qualifications. Taught courses build on the general knowledge and skills learnt at undergraduate level, in a more specialised subject. They involve a series of taught modules, delivered through lectures, seminars and practical work. These modules will be assessed by exams, coursework, dissertations and group projects.
Research Master's (MPhils) predominantly involve independent study. Depending on the course, they can include taught modules or just the main research project, which takes the form of an extended dissertation. Research Master's are especially useful for those looking to develop a career as an academic researcher or consultant, or in industry where an understanding of research would be useful.
Entry requirements for a Master's are usually a 2.1 degree or higher but some, such as MBAs, also require applicants to have completed a number of years in a related industry. Those who wish to progress straight from their Bachelor’s to their Master’s will need to apply during the last year of their undergraduate degree. Applications are dealt with directly by the University and each have to be submitted separately. Generally they include the applicant’s reasons for applying, a breakdown of their current and expected academic qualifications, the skills and experience they hold and their research proposal (for a taught Master's).
The cost of a Master's varies dramatically, the average costs between £5,000-£6,000 but an MBA can cost anything up to £50,000. From 2016, the government will introduce a postgraduate loan scheme similar to the undergraduate loans already in place. A maximum of £10,000 will be available for both taught and research masters. There is also a range of grants available for masters students but these are often very competitive.