A guide to
postgraduate life

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Which path do I choose:
taught or research?

Choosing whether to undertake a programme of taught postgraduate study or to go down the research route can be a big decision. Both options provide opportunities for independent and collaborative work, but in different amounts and styles. One thing is for certain – whichever route you choose, you’ll have the support of your tutors or supervisors the whole way through, making sure you’re given everything you need to reach your full potential.

Key questions to ask yourself when making a choice between taught or research degrees.

Are you self-motivated?

A research degree requires the ability to keep yourself motivated over a long period of study, without regular assignment submissions that often come with a taught degree.

Do you like to work independently or do you prefer structure and group study?

A taught degree offers a clear structure to your postgraduate study, with set teaching periods and opportunities for group work. On the other hand, a research degree offers the freedom to structure your own time and explore an area of study of your choice.

Do you have an interest in a particular topic?

If you already have a particular topic in mind that inspires you, a research degree could be the perfect opportunity to explore this area in detail, developing your knowledge even further.

Master’s degrees
Taught or research
Taught or research
Doctor of Philosophy Quote Background

Work with a dedicated supervisory team to guide you through your research journey.


Megan Beech

Megan Beech

PhD School of Education and Professional Development

Choosing a research degree takes you down a different path, one which is often more independent, as you have no formal taught study. That said, you do get to work with a dedicated supervisory team which pools its research and practical experience to guide you through your research journey. You also have access to one to one and group support from the new University Research Librarian, Martin Gill, as well as the Informed Researcher development sessions. I found this training really helped me to improve my research and planning skills.


Darren Martin

Darren Martin

MRes Music

The great thing about continuing your education through a postgraduate research degree is the opportunity to set and control your own study parameters. This gives you the chance to take full responsibility of your own work. I found this particularly useful in helping me to prepare for working in industry. I felt pride in taking on a project that I myself have created and maintained.

I've had a lot of support from tutors and colleagues who are always there to answer any queries whilst also encouraging and inspiring my research in the process.

The independence I've gained through doing masters in research has given me the opportunity to take on multiple freelance projects that have not only improved my skills and added to my list of industry contacts, but also enhanced my knowledge and research skills in the process.

Taught postgraduate course quote-background

Work closely with other students and further your understanding.

Andy Holroyd

Andy Holroyd

Taught History MA

With a taught postgraduate course, you have a set programme of modules to follow, which your tutors deliver in small seminar groups, giving you the opportunity to work closely with other students and further your understanding of your chosen subject area. You also get to experience what it’s like to complete an in-depth piece of research, usually in the form of your final dissertation.

Andy Holroyd

Andy Holroyd

Taught History MA

With a taught postgraduate course, you have a set programme of modules to follow, which your tutors deliver in small seminar groups, giving you the opportunity to work closely with other students and further your understanding of your chosen subject area. You also get to experience what it’s like to complete an in-depth piece of research, usually in the form of your final dissertation.

Megan Beech

Megan Beech

PhD School of Education

Choosing a research degree takes you down a different path, one which is often more independent, as you have no formal taught study. That said, you do get to work with a dedicated supervisory team which pools its research and practical experience to guide you through your research journey. You also have access to one to one and group support from the new University Research Librarian, Martin Gill, as well as the Informed Researcher development sessions. I found this training really helped me to improve my research and planning skills.