MA or MSc by Research

Masters by research

Studying for an MA or MSc by Research can be an excellent opportunity to develop your intellectual skills and your academic interest in a particular field. The Masters by Research is a 12 month research project (24 months part-time). It is distinct from our taught Masters programmes and involves planning, implementing and writing up a research project. You will be supervised by two members of academic staff and will be encouraged to submit your work for publication at the end of the course.

We have projects you can apply for but you are also welcome to propose your own research project. By undertaking an original piece of research you will develop a mixture of high-level subject-specific and generic skills, including:

  • Project management: the ability to organise, plan and carry through to completion a complicated project
  • Technical expertise: project dependent but may also include good laboratory and fieldwork practice and advanced health and safety skills
  • High-level oral communication skills: especially on projects involving external partners and sponsors with whom you will liaise
  • Strong written communication skills: in writing up your research project, you will become proficient at explaining complex ideas
  • Data analysis skills: data handling, collation, and, where appropriate, statistical and graphical analysis
  • Self-motivation: although you will be closely supervised, you will have to be strongly self-motivated to succeed

Masters by Research projects

Within physical geography it is usual to apply for a particular topic, while in human geography it is more usual to propose your own topic. However, we welcome topic proposals on both sides of the discipline. We will consider any topic provided it can be supervised by our staff. See our staff profiles. Staff will be happy to discuss your project ideas with you and to discuss existing projects to which you can apply.

The Masters by Research is suitable for:

  • Recent graduates who wish to follow up their first degree with more in-depth study of a particular field of interest, linked to further study such as a PhD or to a job in a particular sector (e.g. water company)
  • Mid-career candidates who are currently employed, for instance in education, local government, or environmental consultancy, who want a continuing professional development opportunity that allows them to enhance their skills in areas relevant to their job

If you are a part-time student and are combining your studies with paid employment, your employment should normally be related to your research project.

You can start at an MbR any time of year (on the first day of any month).

Learning and teaching

As a Masters by Research student, you will have regular meetings with your supervisors and will receive training in research skills on the University of Leeds' research student training programme. You will join a large and dynamic community of research students in one of the UK's highest-rated Geography departments.


The Masters by Research is assessed by a thesis of up to 30,000 words (typically 15,000-20,000 words in physical geography), and by an oral examination. One key learning outcome of the Masters is that your research should be of a publishable standard, and once you have passed your exam we will offer advice about preparing your work for publication.

Entry requirements

You will need at least a UK 2:1 honours degree or equivalent.

English language requirements

English language requirements are as follows if English is not your first language:

•    TOEFL score (internet-based test) of at least 92 overall with at least 21 in listening and reading, 22 in writing and 23 in speaking
•    IELTS (Academic) score of at least 6.5, with at least 6.0 in all components
•    PTE (Academic) score of 64, with at least 60 in all components

How to apply

The application process is similar to applying for a PhD. Find out how to apply.

Applications are welcome at any time of year unless you are applying for a funded project or scholarship/bursary with a deadline attached.

For application enquiries, please contact Graduate School admissions on email:


Fees are listed on the University of Leeds website.

Scholarships and financial support

Partial research cluster fee bursaries are sometimes available for Masters by Research projects. Explore funding opportunities.

For general Masters by Research questions/advice, please contact: