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Context - need to understand the 1-year taught MSc programmes offered by universities in the UK, in order to make a choice regarding higher studies (masters level) in Computer Science.

Specific confusion - Generally, an MS degree elsewhere will be of 2-years duration with enough time for lectures, electives and projects/thesis, thus equipping students for both jobs and research in the future. How does a 1-year taught MSc programme in the UK differ? Are they only for students who have no interest in research? Do they not cover the subjects in depth? (I am aware of the MRes programmes but they seemed apt for students who're 100% sure of pursuing a PhD.)

Basically, I am confused if pursuing a 1-year taught MSc programme in the UK will add no value at all. I mainly want to learn specific subjects in much more depth and want to keep open options for research roles / PhD in the future. Any guidance will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  • What qualification do you already have? A BSc alone is sometimes sufficient to start a PhD in the UK. And have you checked the syllabuses of the MScs you're interested in? Many will include a dissertation/research project component. – astronat Sep 2 at 14:24
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    +1 I will up-vote any down vote when there's no justification in a comment and I see no basis for the down vote – user2768 Sep 2 at 14:43
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Regardless of length, MSc programmes vary by institute and country. An MSc isn't necessary (nor sufficient) for entry onto a PhD programme, requirements vary between instituties and countries. Nonetheless, PhD students commonly hold an MSc (or equivalent).

Generally, the difference between a one- and two-year MSc is that the latter is twice as long. That doesn't imply you'll be taught twice as much, because institutes vary. Nor does it imply they'll be any emphasis on research, again institutes vary.

To determine whether an MSc (of any length) is useful for industrial- or academic-research positions, look at requirements for positions you are interested in.


It's worth noting that UK MSc and PhD programmes are shorter than those offered in many countries.

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    I don't think this answers the question. The question asks specifically about the 1-year MSc programmes in the UK. – GoodDeeds Sep 2 at 14:28
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    @GoodDeeds Every MSc programme differs, so there's no generic answer. Is there anything specifically missing? – user2768 Sep 2 at 14:29
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You will need to enquire specifically about the particular MSc. Because MScs are short, they tend to serve very particular purposes.

They might provide the opportunity for someone who did one subject, to gain enough knowledge in another subject to work or do research in that subject (e.g. someone with a Mathematics undergrad to do a computer science job).

They might provide specialist training in a very narrow part of a subject. E.g. we do a degree called Human Molecular Genetics, which is basically training to work in an NHS genetic diagnostic lab, or my friend runs an MSc in Mammalian Zooarchology, which will train people who did a general archology degree, and now want to either get a job as a animal bone specialist on a commercial archology unit, or do a PhD in Mammalian Zooarch.

Or they might be for people who's undergrad degree wasn't good enough. Say you only got a 2:2, or you went to a university that isn't very well regarded, but want to do a PhD... they give you a second chance. We offer one of these. The students combine taking a selection of our final year undergrad courses with special lab skills course, an extended literature review and a lab research project.

I should add that all our MScs provide an extended research project (3 months, full time in the lab), but I don't think that's the case for all MScs.

I always advise student thinking of doing an MSc in the UK to know exactly what it is they want out of it, and to know that the particular MSc they are thinking about will provide that.

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