It is surprising to see from these sources (Wikipedia and University of Edinburgh) that the Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) degree is actually an undergraduate degree in the UK. It is recalled as an 'undergraduate masters degree'. While only PhD MSc and MPhil are considered to be postgraduate degrees.

How far is this true? Why is it so?


It is considered an undergraduate degree because no degree is required in order to start the degree. Undergraduate masters degrees are increasingly common in the UK, due to the funding system. Postgraduate taught degrees are not currently eligible for government funding, so an integrated masters degree is often the cheapest route to a masters degree.

The integrated MEng degree developed early, since an accredited masters is a requirement to become a chartered engineer in the UK. Such courses, at least in theory, include the content of a bachelors degree, plus the content of a standalone postgraduate masters degree, often with an option to abandon early and receive a bachelor's degree. PhDs, MScs and MPhils almost invariably require a degree as an entry requirement, hence they are postgraduate degrees.

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    A key point is that an M-something is a taught masters program, rather than a research one. It is refered to as an integrated masters, and the total work required is lower than doing two separate qualifications. The funding is probably the primary distinction though. An M-something is funded through the government student loan system, whereas currently there is no central funding for stand-alone masters programs (this is supposed to be changing soon). – Jessica B Oct 20 '15 at 11:10
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    Just to add to this, in the UK an MEng degree in an engineering discipline accredited by the relevant professional organisation meets the academic requirements for chartered engineer (C.Eng) status. An accredited BEng degree meets IEng requirements and a student who took that route would have to also obtain an accredited MSc award to meet the academic requirements for chartered engineer status. – John Oct 20 '15 at 11:22
  • @JessicaB Good points, but I think in theory the work load should be equivalent? I don't know that I've read any university that advertises it is less work even if it may in fact be the case. – MJeffryes Oct 20 '15 at 11:22
  • Standalone masters are normally 12 month courses (with no summer break) whereas integrated courses normally follow the normal 9 month academic year (Sept - June) so standalone courses can have slightly more content. Although this is a very minor difference and at least in the UK no one seems to care. Also from 2016 it should be possible to get funding fr a standalone masters findamasters.com/funding/guides/… – nivag Oct 20 '15 at 13:04
  • Fewer credits are required for the final year of the combined course than for a stand-alone masters, at least at my institution. But you only end up with one degree, rather than two. – Jessica B Oct 20 '15 at 13:24

It mostly boils down to how the University organises its degree program, you are correct on the definitions of the degrees. The undergraduate programs are for undergraduates, and will take typically 4 years to complete (equivalent of 3 years of normal undergraduate program, and 1 year for the masters component).

There is usually a mechanism for just doing a postgraduate masters similar to the masters part of the undergraduate program, where the title would be different as it was officially a different degree (postgraduate instead of undergraduate).

Having undergraduate masters programs help in the UK with applying for student finance, as "student loans" are readily accessible for undergraduates, but not for postgraduates. So it makes sense to do it all in one and get the undergraduate loans for the full masters program.

Some people suggest that a "proper" postgraduate masters is better than a program with an integrated masters for undergraduates, but in reality I haven't found anywhere that would discriminate between the two.

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