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Types of postgraduate courses

What is a Masters? Postgraduate taught or research? MSc or MA? Read this guide to find out about the postgraduate qualifications we offer, and which is the best option for you.

Students working in a room


The most well-known type of postgraduate qualification is a taught Masters degree, but you may see these referred to as a postgraduate taught (PGT) course. They are worth 180 credits and are classed as a Level 7 course.

Many students study a Masters after completing an undergraduate / Bachelors degree, and similar to this level of study they also involve seminars, lectures and tutorials. You will also complete a major project, thesis or dissertation.

Types of Masters

We offer the following Masters degrees:


Bethany explains why she chose to study an MRes

Master of Science (MSc)

These cover our science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programmes, as well as courses in Nottingham Business School, psychology, and law enforcement. These are a good choice if you work well with quantitative analysis and technical methods.

Master of Arts (MA)

These are awarded if you’re studying one of our creative, arts, humanities, or selected social science courses. They often involve research, discussion, essay writing, portfolio work, and practical exercises.

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

This prestigious qualification is highly valued by employers and provides key business knowledge. Our internationally accredited business school provides full-time and part-time MBA options. A part-time MBA is known as an Executive MBA (EMBA).

Master of Laws (LLM)

An LLM allows you to study your chosen area of law in depth and boost your legal career prospects.

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

This practice-based qualification in the creative arts can be tailored to your needs. Our MFA Fine Art will prepare you for the rigours of contemporary practice as both an artist and researcher.


This professionally-recognised qualification is an important step towards becoming a registered architect. You will need to have already completed an undergraduate degree in Architecture before progressing on to this course.

Master of Research (MRes)

This qualification incorporates your own research activities, supervised by an experienced academic. It is ideal if you want to gain specific research training or prepare for a PhD. There is still a large taught element, focusing on research methodology and training. At NTU we class this as a taught rather than research qualification.


Other types of postgraduate courses

Masters may be the most common, but there are many other types of postgraduate courses. These include:

  • Postgraduate Certificates (PGCert)
  • Postgraduate Diplomas (PGDip)
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
  • Professional Qualifications
  • Apprenticeships
Science students working

Research degrees

A research degree is the highest level of qualification awarded by UK Universities and is classed as a Level 8 course. You may see them referred to as a postgraduate research (PGR) course, PhD, or Doctorate.

Research degrees allow greater independence and specialisation, providing the opportunity to become an expert in your field.

Types of research degrees

We provide both PhDs and Professional Doctorates. Successful completion of these qualifications allows the holder to title themselves “Doctor”. The main differences between the two are:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - during a PhD you will undertake original research in a specific field, culminating in a thesis. You can begin a PhD immediately after your undergraduate degree or after a Masters degree, depending on the subject.
  • Professional Doctorates - these offer the equivalent status of a PhD and are designed for professionals who will complete work-based research. They include a large taught or directed study element, which is formally assessed, as well as a research project. There are a number of different types of Professional Doctorate qualifications, depending on your field of study.