Qualifications explained

At the University of St Andrews we offer a number of different qualifications to our postgraduate students. These are split into taught programmes and research programmes. Many programmes are available both full time and part time, and the length of study for students studying part time is usually twice that for students studying full time.

Take a look at the different postgraduate qualifications on offer from the University below.


Taught courses

MLitt, MRes, MSc

These are all taught courses. They will feature two semesters of full-time or equivalent part-time study, together with a dissertation of up to 15,000 words or a project, to be completed by the end of the academic year.

Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip)

The Postgraduate Diploma is a taught course. It consists of two full-time semesters or the equivalent part-time study. A student whose performance in a Diploma course is of a sufficiently high standard may transfer to an appropriate Masters (MLitt, MRes, MSc, or MPhil) programme, and the time spent on the Postgraduate Diploma will be credited towards the fulfilment of the Masters regulations.

Graduate Diploma (Grad Dip)

The Graduate Diploma is offered by the School of Philosophy, and consists of two semesters of full-time study, or the equivalent of part-time study. This transitional qualification is for students whose degrees are in a field outside of Philosophy, who wish to progress to advanced study in the subject. More information is available from the School of Philosophy.

Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert)

The Postgraduate Certificate is a taught course offered by a range of Schools, including Psychology and Neuroscience, Biology and Management. The length of the Postgraduate Certificate ranges from one semester to a full calendar year, depending on your choice of course. A student whose performance in a Postgraduate Certificate course is of a sufficiently high standard may be permitted to progress to a Postgraduate Diploma, if available.

You can find the currently available Postgraduate Certificate courses in our taught programmes list. 

Conversion MSc in Psychology

The Psychology Conversion MSc offers a conversion route into psychology for students who hold an honours degree at 2:1 level or higher (or oversees equivalent) in a subject other than psychology. On completion, students should be equipped with the necessary skills to facilitate research at MPhil or PhD level in the area of psychology or to go on to a clinical training programme.


Research programmes

MSc (Res) and MSt (Res)

The MSc (Res) for the Faculty of Science and the MSt (Res) for the Faculty of Arts normally consist of one year supervised research, examined by a 30,000 word maximum research thesis. This masters by research qualification is suitable for students who have the required theoretical knowledge and are therefore not required to attend taught modules or for those who are considering PhD study but do not wish to commit to a three-year programme.

MFA in Creative Writing

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a postgraduate degree offered by the School of English. It is normally for students wishing to progress to teaching in Creative Writing. It consists of two distinct years of study, both of which include careers skills modules. The first year is taught through technical seminars, workshops and individual tuition. In the second year students will submit a substantial piece of creative work.

MPhil

Faculty of Arts

In the Faculty of Arts, an MPhil will consist of two semesters of full time taught courses or the equivalent part time study. You will complete assessment(s) followed by a thesis of up to 40,000 words. This thesis is prepared during the summer and the following year, and submitted by the end of the second academic session. This degree is a combination of coursework and research.

Faculty of Science

In the Faculty of Science, a full-time MPhil is normally of two years' duration, though  a well-qualified candidate, e.g. one possessing a good postgraduate degree in a relevant discipline or a suitable research background, may be admitted directly into the second year.


The University of St Andrews also validates the higher research degrees (MPhil and PhD) in performing arts of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. You can find out more about this collaboration on the collaborative programmes web page. 

PhD

The PhD is usually a three year programme (or six years part time) of supervised research, examined by a thesis of 80,000 words maximum. The thesis is normally submitted by the end of the third year and is a piece of original work describing the research undertaken and its implications for present knowledge.

You can also read more about research at the University.

The University of St Andrews also validates the higher research degrees (MPhil and PhD) in performing arts of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. You can find out more about this collaboration on the collaborative programmes web page. 

PhD by portfolio

The usual route for the examination for a PhD degree is a traditional thesis, but the University of St Andrews has recently adopted an alternative route via the submission of a portfolio of published work for the PhD.

Matriculated students and members of academic staff of at least three years' standing may apply to submit a portfolio of published work for a PhD degree. The published work must all be in the public domain and the candidate must have contributed satisfactorily to the conception, execution and writing of the publications.

The intellectual standing and quality of a PhD by portfolio is equal to that of a PhD by thesis. Examination of a PhD by portfolio is essentially similar to that of a PhD by thesis.

EngD

The School of Physics and Astronomy offers a four-year EngD degree. It is a doctoral programme geared towards training the research managers of the future. It involves a challenging and original research project undertaken as a partnership between industry and academia. For further details, please contact the School of Physics and Astronomy.

An EngD programme in Computer Science is available from September 2016. This is a four-year Engineering Doctorate involving an industrial partner and incorporating a 32-week taught component and a 170-week individual research component. Students who have already completed an MSc in Computer Science may be able to proceed directly to the individual research component of the EngD.


Other routes

Read more about the University’s other postgraduate study routes, including distance learning and collaborative programmes.