Masters by research

Industrial placement Food

What is a Masters by Research degree?

An MSc or MA by Research is a more independent level of study where you’re assessed and awarded based on your research activity. 

Studying for an MA or MSc by Research can be an excellent and challenging 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.

You can propose your own project, or apply to do an existing project advertised by the School. When projects become available, they will be published on

You can start a Masters by Research any time of the year and the programme is 12 months (24 months part-time). Over this time, you’ll have chance to delve into a topic that interests you, building up high-level subject-specific knowledge to plan, implement and write up your research project. 

Skills you will learn 

Whilst you will gain an acute knowledge of your chosen topic, you will also build an extensive skillset that could easily translate into your professional career: 

  • 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

  • Strong written communication skills: in writing up your research project, you'll become proficient at explaining complex ideas.  

  • Data analysis skills: some projects may require data handling, collation, coding, programming, and, where appropriate, statistical and graphical analysis.  

  • Self-motivation: although you will be supervised, it will be your own determination and focus that will ensure you complete the work on time and to a high standard. 

Why do a Masters by Research? 

  • If you’re thinking of doing a PhD: a Masters by Research helps bridge the gap between the more teaching-focused undergraduate programme you’ll have got used to, giving you a taste of what a PhD will really be like. 

  • Fast-track PhD skills: many employers are looking for the professional skills you’ll gain on a Masters by Research in areas like project management, independent study and analysis without you having to do a 3-year PhD. 

  • To supplement your current career: studying a Masters by Research is a professional development opportunity that could enhance your existing skillset and help you progress in your current job role.  

  • Get your work published: after you’ve completed your research project, the aim is for it to be at an academic level where it can be published – and we will encourage and support you in doing that. 

Learning and teaching 

Your Masters by Research degree at Leeds gives you the freedom to work independently and manage your project. However, we do also offer support throughout. 

You will have two academic supervisors with expertise in your chosen research area and have regular supervision meetings to discuss ideas and monitor your progress.

Most of all, you’ll become part of our dynamic and inspiring research community who will support you in achieving your potential. 


You will submit a thesis of up to 30,000 words (typically 15,000-20,000 words), and have an oral examination (viva voce).  

One key learning outcome of the Masters by Research is that your contribution to generating original research should be of a publishable standard and your supervisors can advise you on preparing your work for publication. 

Entry requirements  

You will need at least a high 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.  

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 the Doctoral College Environment Admissions team via email:  

Find out how to apply 


Postgraduate research degree fees are listed on the University of Leeds website.