Several UK universities are now offering a Masters-level degree option that combines taught and independent research possibilities: the ResM. What is it exactly, and might it be a good choice for you?
The ResM story.
Although each university will have its own set of specific modules and requirements, the general outline of the ResM degree programme is broadly similar across the board. Students usually take two or more taught modules, one of which is typically a Research Methods module, the other(s) modules covering key issues in their field of study. They must then complete an extended research project culminating in a dissertation, usually with two supervisors assigned. These supervisors provide students with guidance about choosing a research topic and methods, and during the research project. The finished dissertation is examined at the end of the programme, possibly with an oral viva required.
The ResM degree represents a sort of middle point between a taught Masters (MA or MSc) and an MPhil degree, which generally does not include a significant taught element. Unlike the similar-sounding MRes, which is usually positioned as the first stage of a PhD programme, it is always available as a standalone degree.
The modular structure of the ResM makes it a good choice for UK/EU students who wish to study part-time over two years. As a full-time degree, it takes a minimum of one year.
Universities offering the ResM note that the full-time version is especially attractive for overseas students, whether they are professionals hoping to develop their research skills, or students with a BA or BSc who would like to move towards research careers. It is a less costly option than embarking directly on a PhD programme, and ResM studentships are available at some institutions.
The ResM and the PhD.
It is not uncommon for students who successfully complete a ResM to then continue on to a PhD. As a “known quantity” within a research unit of a university, ResM students who have made an impression on their supervisors should have a better chance of landing a PhD place—or even perhaps a studentship or other funding—than those who apply for a PhD programme directly after their undergraduate work or with a non-research Masters.
Indeed, it is increasingly difficult in the UK for students who have not already done a Masters to gain a PhD place at a British university, unless it is for a two-part programme that includes a Masters-level stage. Successful completion of research leading up to the dissertation should provide sufficient proof that a student is “PhD-capable.”
Students who are successful with the taught portion of an ResM but are not able to then complete their research project may be eligible for a postgraduate diploma (PGDip).
The ResM degree is similar to the Research Masters (with Training), or RMT, degrees that are now offered by some Australian universities.