Exploring the different types of postgraduate research degreesA comprehensive guide

There are two types of research degrees:

  • Doctoral degrees such as PhDs or Professional Doctorates
  • Masters research degrees including MRes or MPhil

Below we'll explore each of the different types of research degree to help you decide which is the best fit for you.

Doctoral degrees


PhD stands for 'Doctor of Philosophy'. To be awarded a PhD you must undertake a piece of independent and original research that results in a significant contribution to a field of knowledge in a specific area. You must write a thesis and defend your findings in an oral examination (viva).

Professional Doctorates

Professional Doctorates are equivalent to a PhD and allow working professionals to undertake research focussing on their specific professional context. The courses are typically taught in the first year, with emphasis on research methods and skills, followed by a period of independent research that seeks to develop new knowledge in professional practice within each professional field.

We offer professional doctorates in:

Engineering Doctorates (EngD)

A doctorate in Engineering typically focussed on an industrial problem which is undertaken in conjunction with an industrial partner. The integrated programme of taught courses ensures the development of a practising researcher who can lead and innovate the development of products, processes and services in industry.

We offer Engineering doctorates in:

Masters research degrees

Master of Research (MRes) degree

A Master of Research (MRes) is a Masters degree. It differs from what many people would typically consider a Masters degree to entail in that the student focuses on their own research as opposed to following a taught course.

There is still usually a taught element in an MRes, but the majority of the degree is research-based. 

An MRes is a good option for students looking to train as a researcher in a commercial or industrial setting, or to prepare for a PhD.

Strathclyde offers MRes degrees in:

Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

Like an MRes, the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) differs from other Masters degrees in that it's research focused.

One fundamental distinction between an MPhil and an MRes lies in the emphasis placed on the taught component of the degree. The MRes programme is specifically crafted to equip individuals with research skills, thus incorporating a substantial amount of coursework. In contrast, the MPhil primarily centres around an independent research project and typically involves minimal or no formal teaching.

An MPhil can be taken as a standalone degree or incorporated into a full PhD.

View our list of MPhil courses.

Research degrees at a glance

PhD Doctoral

Full-time: 36 to 48 months
Part-time: 72 to 84 months

DBA Doctoral 48 months part-time  Professional Doctorate
DInfSci Doctoral Full-time: 36 months
Part-time: 48 months
Professional Doctorate
EdD Doctoral Full-time: 36 months
Part-time: 48 months
Professional Doctorate
DEdPsy Doctoral 48 months part-time   Professional Doctorate
EngD Doctoral 36 months full-time  Engineering Doctorate
MRes Masters Full-time: 12 months
Part-time: 24 months
MPhil Masters Full-time: 12 months
Part-time: 24 months