Our postgraduate degrees

Postgraduate study is a level above undergraduate study, and consequently places serious academic demands on you as a student. There are essentially two different types of postgraduate study: taught programmes and research degrees.

We offer a full range of postgraduate programmes at both taught and research level.

Masters degrees and taught programmes

The life of an MA student is busy. When I applied I was aware there would be a step up, but the levels of commitment demanded from you are pretty large. Not so large that they’re unmanageable, but you do have to dedicate a lot of your life to organisation and reading.

That said, this has undoubtedly been the best six months of my life. I can’t wait to begin my dissertation in April.

Tom Oberst, MA Classics and Ancient History.

The majority of our taught programmes are Masters degrees. These normally combine advanced level tuition with the completion of a dissertation under the guidance of an individual member of staff. You will usually have a choice of modules so that you can tailor your programme to your own interests.

MA, MSc, MRes

We offer the Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MSc) and the Master of Research (MRes). The MRes degree (not to be confused with the Masters by Research (MbyRes) degree), highly valued by employers, combines advanced subject-specific tuition with advanced level training in the methodological, analytic and research skills which are vital for the undertaking of further research. We also offer specialist taught postgraduate degrees, such as the Master of Business Administration (MBA) and the Master of Laws (LLM).

Part time study and distance learning

Part-time study

Most Masters programmes are 11-12 months full-time, with many programmes also available for part-time study and lasting roughly twice as long. Please note that international students are subject to visa regulations which normally prevent part-time study.

Distance learning

Increasingly we offer distance-learning programmes which require little or no attendance at our campuses and enable you to study for a postgraduate qualification from Exeter, anywhere in the world. Some programmes are delivered via ‘block teaching’; intensive 1-2 week bursts of on-campus lectures, seminars, and activities, which can fit more easily around your working life.

PgCert and PgDip

Some of our Masters degrees can be taken in a shorter form, by omitting the dissertation or some of the taught modules. Full Masters programmes consist of 180 credits of which around 60-90 will be for the dissertation element; Postgraduate Diplomas (120 credits) and Postgraduate Certificates (60 credits) covering only taught modules are also available in a number of subject areas.

Contact hours

Contact hours vary widely between programmes: science courses can involve an almost 9-5 schedule of lectures, talks, meetings, and lab sessions; whilst humanities degrees may feature only a few hours of timetabled classes a week, but will require you to undertake a substantial amount of reading and research outside of official teaching hours. If you are studying full-time, expect to be working approximately 40 hours per week towards your degree.

PhDs and research degrees

We are particularly committed to encouraging new ideas and nurturing talent at the University of Exeter. Postgraduate research students contributed to more than a third of research papers published by Exeter academics since 2010, making them absolutely key to our research success. This makes the University of Exeter one of the very best places to pursue postgraduate and early career research.

We offer a range of research degrees:

  • Masters by Research
  • Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Professional doctorates, including:
    • Engineering doctorate (EngD)
    • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
    • Master of Surgery (MS)
    • Education doctorate (EdD)

Postgraduate researchers are supported by the University of Exeter Doctoral College.

Find out about funding for postgraduate research, including full, research council-funded studentships.

Types of research degree

Research degrees are a level above taught postgraduate programmes, and involve carrying out an independent research project under academic supervision.

Masters by Research

The MA or MSc by Research lets you obtain a research degree without the commitment of a longer-term PhD. Not to be confused with the taught MRes degree, it’s ideal for people interested in pursuing a specific shorter-term research project, perhaps while working. You will have the option to apply to transfer to an MPhil or PhD.

Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The MPhil, although a qualification in its own right, is often used as a route to the longer PhD. A PhD is only awarded when the results make an original contribution to knowledge in the field, which is normally assessed by a written thesis and oral examination.

PhD by Publication

If you already have a portfolio of suitable quality published work which demonstrates a coherent research direction, you may be eligible for the PhD by Publication. This option reduces the study duration, and you will work with a supervisor to produce an integrating chapter explaining how the publications form a coherent whole.

Professional doctorates

Professional doctorates combine a significant taught element with production of a research thesis, and are designed to help members of specific professions develop both their academic and professional knowledge (eg educational psychologists, clinical psychologists, teachers and lecturers).

Engineering doctorate (EngD)

An EngD is a four year research degree awarded for industrially relevant research. The degree provides a more vocationally oriented approach to obtaining a doctorate in engineering commensurate with that of a PhD. You can find out more about the EngD degrees we offer on our Engineering webpages.

Doctor of Medicine (MD)/Master of Surgery (MS)

These professional degrees contain no taught element and, like a PhD, are only awarded if an original contribution to knowledge is made. The degrees are normally completed in 2-3 years full-time (4-5 years part-time), and require a clinical degree or equivalent. Please see our Medical School webpages for further information.

Education doctorate (EdD)

The EdD is a professional doctorate which is equivalent in level to a PhD, but includes a modular phase as well as the thesis. It is particularly suited to professionals who aim to link research closely with their existing professional practice. Find out more on the Education pages.


Research degrees usually involve the completion of a written thesis, although alternatives may be allowed where suitable. Alternatives can include the presentation of part or all of the thesis as a multimedia document or a piece of art, or a record of professional practice in the form of a series of case-studies, which must be accompanied by a commentary. If you are interested in completing a thesis by alternative submission please contact the appropriate department to discuss this during the application process. If you publish research you have undertaken during your studies, it may also be possible to include such work in its published form in your thesis.

Distance learning and split site study

There are opportunities to study for a University of Exeter PhD without residing locally: in some circumstances it may be appropriate for you to study with us whilst registered as a distance-based student, or if you have access to appropriate academic facilities, as a split-site student. All off-campus students receive supervision and support from our staff and are normally expected to attend the University for limited periods.


A PhD is the highest qualification that a university can award and offers a challenging and exciting opportunity to work at the cutting-edge of research: if you have these qualities we can offer a very supportive environment in which to pursue research. At Exeter, students are also given support through our Researcher Development Programme, within the Doctoral College.


Professional programmes

Our portfolio includes a range of programmes specifically developed for working professionals, with particular expertise in business, education, medicine and healthcare, clinical psychology, mining and engineering, law, film, security, and public administration.

These programmes include research degrees, such as professional doctorates, and taught degres, which are often delivered by block, blended, or distance learning to enable you to fit them around your working life.

By following one of our porofessional development programmes you will benefit from the same high-quality education and research-led teaching as our traditional academic degrees, with increased industry-specific focus and access to extensive professional networks.


MA Anthrozoology

Business Studies

As well as the MBA - One Planet MBA, we offer a range of programmes in Accounting, Finance, Business and Management, and Economics.

Clinical Psychology

We offer a range of professional programmes in Clinical Psychology, including High Intensity Psychological Therapies, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapies, and Evidence Based Psychological Practice. Please see the Psychology subject pages for the full range of programmes available.


Our Education programmes suitable for professionals include professional doctorates (EdD), as well as:

  • PgCert/PgDip/MEd Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
  • Part-time MEd TESOL Intensive Summer Programme
  • PGCE programmes


EngD Engineering (Doctoral programme)
MSc Structural Engineering


International Film Business MA


Within Law we offer the Graduate Law LLB conversion programme, as well as the LLM Master of Laws and MRes Socio-Legal Research.

Medicine and Health

Applied Health Services Research and Environment and Human Health, both available at PgCert, PgDip, and MSc.


PGCert The Mining Lifecycle (Professional)
Mining Engineering (Professional) MSc

Public Administration

Masters of Public Administration (MPA)


MA Applied Security Strategy

A day in the life of a PhD student

Emily Johnson shows us what a typical day is like as a PhD student in the Archaeology department.