Which research degree should I study?

At DMU we offer research degrees at both Masters and Doctorate level. The following description should help you to decide which research degree is most appropriate for you:


MA/MSc by Research

If you would like to experience carrying out research but are not sure that you want to commit to long-term study then the MA or MSc by Research is an excellent introduction. For full-time students the course takes approximately one year and for part-time students about two years.

This degree is organised and run within individual faculties who provide a programme of research methods training appropriate to the particular academic discipline. You will then undertake a research project under the supervision of a member of staff to allow you to develop your research skills.

At the end of the project you write up your findings in the form of a short thesis and take part in an oral examination.

On successful completion, you will be awarded your degree and if you have really enjoyed this taste of research you may then decide to apply for the full research doctorate degree.

Please note MA/MSc by Research is only available in the faculties of Technology and Health and Life Sciences.


When applying for the MPhil or PhD programmes, it is important that you have a clear plan of the research project you wish to study.  If accepted, you will follow a comprehensive researcher development  programme throughout your period of study and be assigned at least two supervisors who are experts in the field of research you plan to investigate.  You will then have regular meetings with your supervisors to discuss the progress you have made and your plans to develop the line of investigation further. 

Students registered for the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree normally take between 1-2 years full-time or 2-4 years part-time study and complete the degree by writing up their findings in a thesis and taking part in an oral examination. 

The major distinction between the Masters and Doctorate awards is that your training within the PhD programme will prepare you for your future role as an independent researcher which is highly valued by employers both in academic research and other walks of life.

International PhD Programme

For all the research degree programmes described above, you must register to study for the degree based at our university campus in Leicester.  However we recognise that for some potential research students based overseas it is not possible to relocate to Leicester in the UK to undertake a research degree. 

For over 20 years De Montfort University has conducted a research degree programme to allow such students to study for the MPhil or PhD award whilst remaining in their home country and supervised by staff from within the university, provided the necessary resources are available to the student in their local environment.  Full details of this International PhD Programme are given here.

Having identified the research degree programme which you feel is the most appropriate, you then need to move to the next stage regarding how to apply. 

Application for PhD by Published Works

Within DMU the opportunity to submit for PhD by Published Works is only available to current members of staff who have worked in the university for at least 3 years.  The criteria which must be met in order to achieve a doctorate by this route are specified in section 11.3 of the current Code of Practice.   

In order to ensure that the proposed published works meet these criteria, we now require the member of staff to submit their First Project Review at the same time as submitting their application form for this degree.  Please note applicants for PhD by Published Works do not need to complete sction 8 (Supporting Statement) of the application form. The registration form will be assessed within the Faculty by a panel comprising the Faculty Head of Research Students, at least one other academic researcher with appropriate expertise appointed by the Faculty Head of Research Students and by the Director of the Doctoral College.  If the registration form is approved, then the application can be accepted and the member of staff enrolled on this degree programme. 

Once registered on this degree programme, the student can undertake any of the courses available through the Researcher Development Programme but unlike the other research degree programmes, none of these courses are compulsory for this category of students.

PhD by Concurrent Publication

This format of PhD is a form of doctoral thesis in which the candidate presents journal articles published, or in publishable form, written during the course of a supervised programme of research. 

The portfolio of papers submitted for examination should represent an interconnected approach to the core research question(s) and will be contextualised by an accompanying critical narrative, drawing together the content of the papers and demonstrating an overall contribution to knowledge.

This PhD route is not necessarily suitable for all research disciplines or all research candidates so it is important to have a detailed conversation with the potential supervisor. 

Intention to present a thesis via this route will be stated at the time of enrolment and confirmed at the time of registration of research, not at the point of application and offer.  The first project review of the research project takes place six months after the start date of the research programme for full time students and 12 months after the start date for part time students.

Candidates will follow a supervised programme of research and there is a minimum requirement of no fewer than three papers accepted by, or in a format suitable for submission to, an appropriate journal or equivalent academic publication.

More detailed information about the PhD by Concurrent Publication can be found in the Code of Practice for Research Degree Students, incorporating Research Degree Regulations.


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Which research degree should I study?
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