The Master of Research Programme (MRes) offered by the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences, provides a one year training in research suitable for those who wish to proceed to enrol for a PhD programme, but at the same time is a research degree recognised in its own right.
The overall educational aim of the MRes programme is to provide graduate students with knowledge and understanding of research methods, training in appropriate technical skills and scholarship skills, such as critical thinking and the capacity to write in the style of their discipline, along with advanced study in areas of their discipline. Importantly, students apply for and enrol to complete a specified research project, and the rest of the course is tailored to support conducting that research.
The function of this programme is to provide students with a range of research-related skills and the capacity to proceed to PhD programmes. Undergraduate programmes do not necessarily provide enough of these skills, and there is a national and an international trend towards requiring completion of a Master's degree prior to entry to PhD programmes.
The overall structure allows for several pathways in areas of Biomedical Sciences, Geography & Environmental Sciences, Psychology and other disciplines. This a research degree where initial training in discipline areas and research methods is followed by research project preparation and scholarship skills training, and then by completion of the research project and the dissertation. Students apply for and are accepted onto approved projects put forward by the pathway staff team. Inclusion of a project on the advertised list for an academic year indicates that the named supervisors have undertaken to offer support of research project preparation in Semester 2 linked to research project supervision in Semester 3. The overall programme takes 12 months to complete through full-time study, with dissertation submission being required in September.
As indicated in Table 1, below, the overall structure consists of five related elements. These are:
Advanced study in discipline: 30 credit points (through one or two modules) are completed that are appropriate to the discipline and planned research project topic. These are normally selected from MSc modules taught on the campus where the student and planned project are located.
Advanced research methods: 30 credit points (through one or two modules) are completed that are appropriate to the discipline and planned research project methodology. These are normally selected from MSc modules taught on the campus where the student and planned project are located.
Scholarship skills: This is a 30-credit module taken by blended learning, usually in Semester 2. It covers critical thinking skills and scholarly writing skills and is focussed on materials from the student's discipline area.
Research project preparation (30 credit points): The student is in contact with the project supervisory team throughout the year. Usually in Semester 2, directed training to develop specific skills for the conduct of the research project is undertaken and assessed.
Completion of research project and dissertation: Work on the project may begin in Semester 2 (or even earlier) but is completed and assessed through dissertation submission (in the format of a manuscript suitable for submission to a relevant science journal along with an extended literature review) in Semester 3, the summer period. Projects undertaken are typically in similar areas to those being undertaken by PhD students in the research group to which the supervisors are attached, but they are of a scope and level appropriate for the MRes.
Table 1: Programme elements and possible sequence (note that the sequence may vary in some cases).
Advanced study in discipline (30 credit points)
Advanced research methods (30 credit points)
Scholarship skills (30 credit points)
Research project preparation (30 credit points)
Completion of research project and dissertation (60 credit points)
The programme is administered by the Doctoral College. A leader is appointed from the relevant School for each named pathway. For each student, the pathway leader ensures that the assessment load is appropriately distributed across the three semesters.