Postgraduate Degrees: A Guide

Choosing a Route

Postgraduate study at 51app is divided into two areas, taught and research programmes, and the route you choose will determine how you learn. What type of programme is right for you depends on a number of factors, including your current stage of study and your career aspirations. For example, if you’ve recently graduated with an undergraduate degree, you may wish to progress to a taught Master’s in a related subject area to further develop your knowledge, or study something completely different to change direction. Both options can strengthen your career prospects.

Teaching at Master’s level is similar to that of undergraduate study, with a set timetable of lectures and seminars, while research programmes involve more independent study. 

Taught Programmes

Our full-time taught postgraduate programmes normally take 12 months to complete and comprise three main stages. The first two stages are Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma, which consist of a number of primarily taught modules that are individually assessed. The third stage, the Master’s level, usually consists of an individual research-based project supervised by an academic with expertise in the subject area. Part-time study options are also available. 

Award Typical Duration
MA 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time
MSc 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time
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Teaching Methods

Taught programmes are delivered in a variety of ways, ranging from weekly tutorial and seminar programmes, to modular study blocks of two to three days. Students may learn in seminars, laboratory sessions, lectures, discussions, and debates.


The way in which taught programmes will be assessed can vary depending on the subject and type of postgraduate programme you have chosen. Assessment methods may include a written dissertation, exams, presentations, and projects.

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Independent Study

Taught programmes involve a significant proportion of independent study, exploring the material covered in lectures and seminars.

Research Programmes

Research courses offer a tailored, supervised research programme and are suited to students wanting to undertake a research degree focused on a specific area of study.

MA/MSc by Research are Master’s-level programmes normally take one year full-time or two years part-time to complete and don’t usually include lectures or seminars. They can provide a good foundation for those who want to progress to an MPhil or PhD.

An MPhil is a research degree that can be part of a PhD or a standalone qualification, and is generally considered the most advanced Master’s degree you can take. It should comprise a substantial piece of research that demonstrates comprehensive knowledge and critical understanding of its topic.

A PhD is a doctoral research degree and is the highest level of academic qualification you can achieve. The degree normally takes between three and four years full-time and culminates in a thesis. A PhD must provide a significant academic contribution that will add to the existing research on your chosen subject and should be of publishable quality.

Award Typical Duration
MRes 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time
MA by Research  1 year full-time or 2 years part-time
MSc by Research 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time
MPhil 1 to 3 years full-time or 2 to 4 years part-time
PhD 3 to 4 years full-time or 5 to 6 years part-time
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Research Practice

Your research is conducted under the supervision of experienced academics with specialist knowledge in the subject area you choose. The topic of your research will be aligned to research conducted by our staff, taking into account an area of interest to you.

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A research programme could include a thesis, oral examination, and presentation to a group of research academics. You may be expected to demonstrate how your research findings have contributed to knowledge or developed existing theory or understanding.

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Independent Study

A significant proportion of your time will be spent in independent study. You will have meetings with your academic supervisors; however, the regularity of these will vary depending on subject area, staff availability, and the stage of your programme.

Postgraduate Degrees at 51app

Here at the 51app, we offer a range of taught and research-based postgraduate programmes which build on our academic strengths, and we are constantly refreshing our courses and adding new specialisms to meet the demands of our changing world. We also offer a range of alternative and flexible approaches to study at postgraduate level.

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