One of the most popular postgraduate qualifications, MSc degrees are available in a variety of subjects. Discover more about what they involve, the different modes of study and funding options
What is an MSc?
The Master of Science, more commonly known as the MSc, is the standard Masters qualification for taught courses in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.
MSc courses give students the chance to focus on a particular area of interest in more detail, and are particularly suited to those who work well with quantitative analysis and technical methods.
Typically one to two years in length if studied full time, courses consist of individual modules, followed by an independent study (dissertation) project. Part-time MSc programmes are available, but be aware that they're usually double the length of a full-time course.
The qualification is awarded to those studying 'hard science' subjects, but it can also be awarded to those studying technology, engineering, maths, medicine and social science courses.
For example, MSc subjects include:
- conservation studies
- cyber security
- data analysis
- food science
- forensic psychology
- global finance
- human nutrition
- international relations
- mechanical engineering
- professional accounting
- real estate
- social work
- software engineering
- sports therapy
To find out more about Masters level qualifications, see what is a Masters degree?
Find an MSc course
MSc courses cover a range of subjects and are available to study at a variety of universities. With so many programmes to choose from, finding a course and making a decision can be overwhelming. To make sure you pick a course that's right for you, start your research by searching for a relevant MSc.
What’s the difference between an MA and MSc?
While an MSc concerns itself primarily with STEM subjects and social sciences, the Master of Arts (MA) focuses on arts and humanities subjects. Some social science courses also fall under the MA umbrella, depending on the focus and content of the programme. There is no difference in terms of level of study or prestige and the majority of MA courses will be taught and assessed in the same way, with a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, essays and exams.
MA subjects include:
- creative writing
- graphic design
- language studies
What are the entry requirements?
For entry onto the majority of MSc courses you'll need a 2:1 or higher at undergraduate level. You don't necessarily need to have studied a Bachelor of Science (BSc) but you will need to have studied a relevant subject.
It may be possible to study for an MSc with a lower class undergraduate degree, but it's likely that you'll need significant work experience under your belt. Speak to you university's admissions department to find out more.
What MSc funding is available?
There are a number of funding options available to Masters students looking to lessen the financial burden.
If you're studying a taught or research Masters degree at a UK university, or by distance learning, then you may be entitled to a postgraduate loan. For courses starting in the 2020/21 academic year you can get a loan of up to £11,222 to put towards tuition fees, study costs and living expenses.
Other funding options include:
Specific MSc funding may also be available from your university in the form of scholarships and bursaries. For example:
- Cranfield School of Management offers the Santander MSc Scholarship.
- Sheffield University Management School provides scholarships for students taking an MSc in Global Marketing Management.
- The University of Edinburgh offers an MSc Education Scholarship.
- The University of Sussex provides the Chancellors Masters Scholarship to students that have, or are expected to achieve, a first class Bachelors degree.
Can I do a distance learning MSc?
One of the benefits of postgraduate study is its flexibility. If full or part-time study isn't for you, there are different options available.
For example, you could study for a distance learning MSc, which involves learning remotely, usually from home. Lectures, tutorials and assessments take place online, making this mode of study particularly flexible. Unsurprisingly, distance learning Masters are popular with working professionals, those juggling family commitments, mature students and those living in geographically remote areas. Learn more about online learning.
Despite not physically attending university you're still supported by an assigned tutor, who will help to keep you motivated and on track.
Examples of distance learning MSc's include:
- Information Technology, London Metropolitan University
- International Business, University of Birmingham
- Nursing Studies, Sheffield Hallam University
- Psychology, Northumbria University
- Real Estate, The University of Manchester.
What MSc degree apprenticeships are on offer?
Degree apprenticeships enable you to gain a university qualification while working and earning a wage. A range of institutions and employers offer MSc degree apprenticeship opportunities, including:
- Chartered Management Institute (CIM) - Senior Leader Masters Degree Apprenticeship.
- Kaplan - Accountancy and Taxation Level 7 Apprenticeship.
- Manchester Metropolitan University - Digital and Technology Solutions Masters Degree Apprenticeship.
- University of Sunderland - MSc Advanced Clinical Practitioner Degree Apprenticeship.
Find out more
- Discover how to apply for a Masters degree.