I saw an offer in a research group described as 'Research position at master 2 level'. Can anyone clarify for me what that means? Is it a 2nd masters or anything else? Does it always need a masters degree for applying (sorry, it's not clear in the requirement, that's why I am asking).
At least at the universities in Paris where I took courses, there is a strong distinction between the first and second master year. In the first year you still take general courses in a variety of topics, whereas in the second year you really specialise. Someone explained to me that this is a remnant of how it was a while ago: first 4 years of undergraduate (which is now 3 years of bachelor, then the first year of the master), then 4 years of graduate (second year of master and 3 years of PhD).
I know that some of my friends in physics had something which could be called a research position at the master 2 level, i.e. they were integrated in the research group, doing some type of research, whilst not yet being PhD students.
So no, it should not be a second master degree, it should mean that you are in the second year of your master.
The Master 2 is the French academic way of saying the second year of your Master's degree. According to the Bologna process, students are expected to complete 90-120 ECTS credits to obtain a Master's degree. This can take either 1 or 2 years, depending on the country, course and institution. In France, Master courses usually last two years. So the selection committee is basically looking for students who are about to obtain their Master's degree.
The fact that the ad mentions a research position at Master 2 level could mean that they are looking for candidates in their second year of a Master de Recherche. This is a research-oriented master, somewhat comparable to a UK MRes maybe, which is meant to form students towards research careers rather than industry. Quoting from the Wikipedia page on Master's degrees:
In France, the equivalent of master's degrees is the combination of two individual years : the master 1 (M1) and master 2 (M2), following the Bologna Process. Depending on the goal of the student (a doctorate or a professional career) the master 2 can also be called a "Master Recherche" (research master) and a "Master Professionnel" (professional master), each with different requirements. To obtain a national diploma for the master 2 requires a minimum of one year of study after the master 1.
Nevertheless, I am sure that the people posting the ad are looking for exceptional candidates regardless of their educational country of provenance. If you have a Master's degree that is compatible with the Bologna process, or with a comparable number of credits and experience, with some research experience gathered along the way you should fit the profile.
In France, Master’s students in they second (and last) year have to1 intern in a private or public institution. As France make a distinction between Master’s degree which lead to academia and Master’s degree which lead to industry, there are many short-term internships (say, 5 to 7 months) in research institutions aimed at Master’s students. My guess is that’s what the offer is about. When I was a student, these offers had to provide the student with a meager pay, around a third of the minimum wages.
- Well, its the norm in science, at least. Some other branches might just require a memoir.
In many European countries they have a three-level degree system for BA and masters below is a quote from wikipedia
Italy uses the three levels degree system. The first level degree, called (Diploma Accademico di) laurea (Bachelor's degree), is obtained after 3 years of study and a short thesis on a specific subject. The second level degree, called (Diploma Accademico di) laurea magistrale (Master's degree), is obtained after two additional years of study, specializing in a particular branch of the chosen subject (e.g. particle physics, nuclear engineering, etc.). This degree requires a more complex thesis work, usually involving some academic research or an internship in a private company.
The school you are looking at in France appears to be using the same terminology. As such, if it is a second level master it would be the equivalent of a master degree in the US, which requires 4 years of undergraduate study first and not a only 3 years degree as in the example above.
Just for additional (and slightly contradictory!) information regarding a Level Two Master's Degree in Italy, this from the website of the Italian Ministry of Education:
3.2 New Academic Degrees and Qualifications (SCROLL TO BOTTOM) The reform has abolished the old three year degree (diploma universitario) and the old four year degree (laurea) and has introduced the following new academic qualifications organised in three cycles.
First cycle – Undergraduate studies
First degree - laurea
180 3 Second cycle – Graduate studies Second degree – Laurea specialistica
120 2 1st Level Master degree – Master universitario di 1° livello
60+ 1+ Third cycle – Postgraduate studies
Research doctorate degree – dottorato di ricerca
Specialisation degree – diploma di specializzazione *
60-300 1-5 2nd level Master degree – master universitario di 2° livello