The Master of Research Programme (MRes) offered by the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences, provides a one year training in research suitable for those who wish to proceed to enrol for a PhD programme, but at the same time is a research degree recognised in its own right.
The overall educational aim of the MRes programme is to provide graduate students with knowledge and understanding of research methods, training in appropriate technical skills and scholarship skills, such as critical thinking and the capacity to write in the style of their discipline, along with advanced study in areas of their discipline. Importantly, students apply for and enrol to complete a specified research project, and the rest of the course is tailored to support conducting that research.
The function of this programme is to provide students with a range of research-related skills and the capacity to proceed to PhD programmes. Undergraduate programmes do not necessarily provide enough of these skills, and there is a national and an international trend towards requiring completion of a Master’s degree prior to entry to PhD programmes.
The overall structure allows for several pathways in areas of Biomedical Sciences, Geography & Environmental Sciences, Psychology and other disciplines. This a research degree where initial training in discipline areas and research methods is followed by research project preparation and scholarship skills training, and then by completion of the research project and the dissertation. Students apply for and are accepted onto approved projects put forward by the pathway staff team. Inclusion of a project on the advertised list for an academic year indicates that the named supervisors have undertaken to offer support of research project preparation in Semester 2 linked to research project supervision in Semester 3. The overall programme takes 12 months to complete through full-time study, with dissertation submission being required in September.
As indicated in Table 1, below, the overall structure consists of five related elements. These are:
Advanced study in discipline: 30 credit points (through one or two modules) are completed that are appropriate to the discipline and planned research project topic. These are normally selected from MSc modules taught on the campus where the student and planned project are located.
Advanced research methods: 30 credit points (through one or two modules) are completed that are appropriate to the discipline and planned research project methodology. These are normally selected from MSc modules taught on the campus where the student and planned project are located.
Scholarship skills: This is a 30-credit module taken by blended learning, usually in Semester 2. It covers critical thinking skills and scholarly writing skills and is focussed on materials from the student’s discipline area.
Research project preparation (30 credit points): The student is in contact with the project supervisory team throughout the year. Usually in Semester 2, directed training to develop specific skills for the conduct of the research project is undertaken and assessed.
Completion of research project and dissertation: Work on the project may begin in Semester 2 (or even earlier) but is completed and assessed through dissertation submission (in the format of a manuscript suitable for submission to a relevant science journal along with an extended literature review) in Semester 3, the summer period. Projects undertaken are typically in similar areas to those being undertaken by PhD students in the research group to which the supervisors are attached, but they are of a scope and level appropriate for the MRes.
Table 1: Programme elements and possible sequence (note that the sequence may vary in some cases).
Advanced study in discipline (30 credit points)
Scholarship skills (30 credit points)
Completion of research project and dissertation
(60 credit points)
Advanced research methods (30 credit points)
Research project preparation (30 credit points)
The programme is administered by the Doctoral College. A leader is appointed from the relevant School for each named pathway. For each student, the pathway leader ensures that the assessment load is appropriately distributed across the three semesters.
Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study. We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.
In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.
Additional information for International applicants may be found here.
English language requirements
In order to be admitted to research study at Ulster, you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency as part of your application.
Full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found here.
Fees and funding
Details of tuition fees can be found under the fees schedule for the academic year of entry.
To work out for which fees you would be eligible and to find out more information about potential sources of funding, please view the Fees and Funding pages on the Doctoral College website.
We are delighted that you are considering Ulster University for your research studies. Full details on the application process and further guidance on how to apply, and what you will need to upload as part of your application, is available here.
Once you have identified supervisors, discussed a research proposal and are ready to make an application, please apply using the online application system.
Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.