Taught Masters (Msc) or Research by Masters (MRes) ?

(24 Posts)
Dory1970 Sat 01-Oct-16 23:12:36

Just that really
Is one better than the other for say employers or prospective uni if you want to continue in academia ? DD would like to continue in academia so MRes would be the natural progression. Hopefully would also like to do a PhD but it's notoriously hard to get funding for her subject area. So she may end up getting a job after a masters. Or would she be better off doing a taught masters (Msc) plus Is there any importance placed on where you do your Masters ?

Sofabitch Sat 01-Oct-16 23:15:03

Mres is very much for going into research phd route.

What does she want to do?

My tutor was actually warning people off doing a Masters just because they don't know what to do. Apparently this new funding means people are just taking it up as a natural progression but it can make them over qualified for many entry level positions.

Really it depends what subject and where she wants to go.

Dory1970 Sat 01-Oct-16 23:50:26

Dd would like to be a research assistant. The area of interest are in Linguistic/language allied to psychology. That type of area. As many have mentioned, psychology is a hard area to get a job in. And many on here don't see it as a highly regarded subject either.

Becca19962014 Sun 02-Oct-16 00:11:37

I was a research assistant straight after graduating and then became a lecturer for a short time. At that time all I had was my BSc 2:2. No a-levels or GCSEs (I had a discontinued BTEC that only a handful of people managed to get in the country before it was withdrawn so no one knew anything about it got into uni because they were desperate to have BTEC applicants).

My point is looking at career guides and speaking to various advisors I was told I had zero chance of success applying for what was a brilliant job, it really suited me, I would never have undertaken a masters at that point (I did later do a conversion MSc as Mres wasn't highly regarded it was seen as a cheap Mphil which was seen as a failed PhD - I don't know if that attitude prevails now but it did then) but was cited as necessary on the application form. I couldn't believe it when they offered it to me.

Word of warning - I also had another research assistant post in a related department which I expected to enjoy just as much but it was a nightmare, where in the first I was given the work and left to get on with it, the second watched me like a hawk and refused to have my name listed anywhere in the research as it was deemed unfair and had zero faith or trust in my abilities. The ironic thing was that was after I'd done a masters and felt more confident!

Becca19962014 Sun 02-Oct-16 00:13:45

Sorry that's a bit long and rambly - hopefully you can see what I'm saying, if not I'll try again tommorow when less tired!

Dory1970 Sun 02-Oct-16 11:19:43

Thanks becca for your insight and recalling the type of experiences you have had in research jobs. Dd would like to be a fully fledge researcher not just a assistant. But she's daren't look that far ahead because of how hard it is to get funding for PhD, getting a good classification at 3rd year then also a distinction at masters. At the moment shes just doing the best she can to obtain those research skills and getting good end of year grades. Your post got me thinking about how important it is the relationship with the supervisor or leader I suppose it can make or break careers in this area.

Does anybody know is it better to go to a less pretigious uni for MRes (master by research) and work with a renowned supervisor or go to prestigious well regarded uni with a excellent facilities as I'm thinking not all best well known supervisors are working at the top uni. As a potential researcher are they better off working for highly regarded supervisor if they ever get the opportunity and don't look too heavily at the uni.

Becca19962014 Sun 02-Oct-16 13:54:05

I wanted to be a researcher as well, but those posts are very very rare and highly sought and there was no way I'd be able to compete. The research assistant posts were doing a lot of research, and writing up, I learnt a huge amount of skills.

Yes she needs to be careful of supervisors but that's not really something you can plan for, you can hardly ask them if they're any good at their job! My masters supervisor was rubbish but by then I'd been a supervisor and worked as a lecturer so supervised myself, if it was down to my supervisor I wouldn't have passed.

Mres won't always accept direct from undergrad, usually they expect a taught masters qualification as well, though if DD gets a high first that might be overlooked (depending on the uni she is at and applying to) but that's unusual. I suspect her route would be MSc, Mres, PhD.

But the important thing is there's no guarantee of a research post at the end, most go to lecturers who then employ assistants. Lecturer posts are also very rare and likely to require moving around - I left because my job was per academic year depending on how many applied for the course. I know of two PhD students who are doing basic entry level jobs because they couldn't get any research posts, one isn't bothered but the other is very bitter about it as she had expected to easily get a researcher role.

Becca19962014 Sun 02-Oct-16 14:46:53

Have you tried asking about this in academics corner as well?

Dory1970 Sun 02-Oct-16 15:06:06

Thanks becca that is really intresting. I thought Msc and MRes were both same level masters programme. Dd needs to check for her specific field.
By the sounds of it. Your never going to get rich being a researcher. It's something that anyone aspiring to have a career in this should be prepared for. DD is in that catagory of not motivated by money and all the material wealth that can come with it. So I suppose she won't feel too disheartened that financially she will not be doing as well as her friends etc for a long while.
I was talking to friend of a friend who works at the local ex poly uni. At his uni some of their PhD's is guarenteed funded if they do MRes with them and get a distinction. He advised that DD should enquire about it. Is a risk. She comes from a much higher ranking uni. Would that look odd. This ex poly is local so can live at home. I've not spoke to DD about this but does it sound a daft idea.

Becca19962014 Sun 02-Oct-16 16:00:37

MRes is usually used to teach aspects needed for a PhD and has a dissertation. MSc teaches a specific area and has a dissertation at the end. It's a good idea I think to do MSc in the area of interest and then Mres to learn research techniques. Of course people do go straight to PhD but that can mean missing valuable teaching, which could help when applying for work.

My field isn't the same as your DD so she definitely needs to find out more specifics, guide her towards the prospects website www.prospects.ac.uk where she can find subject specific help.

I'd be wary of guaranteed funding - you need to be certain that it will still exist at the end of a course, that it's being given by the uni itself and there's something in writing. Such guarantees are unfortunately word of mouth to get people doing certain courses and then they find actually they are external funding so not guaranteed at all. Funding information is also on prospects website.

I don't think it matters in terms of ranking of uni as that changes year by year - I know that's not a common opinion on MN, really it depends on what she wants to do and the best way to get there. For now she should look at prospects, is her uni careers any good? If so she could try there (mine was useless! I found prospects very helpful).

MedSchoolRat Sun 02-Oct-16 16:29:49

My gut feeling is that the skills gained matter most -- the extra buzzwords she can put on her CV after she's done, rather than MRes vs. MSc or prestigious vs. not-as-prestigious or who is supervisor (etc): it's those skills that will give her future opportunities.

Is she in a psychology dept already -- are her favourite lecturers giving her advice (if not, why not?)

I am wary of prestige now. I have heard some pretty eminent people being slagged off for scientific incompetence.

If she goes down MRes route, my only advice is to go with someone who seems nice, answers emails relatively quickly and clearly, and who is (very) keen to publish. A 30yo lecturer that asks her about her publication plan as well as what kind of pint she likes, is a good sign. Asking their PhD students discretely what they are like to work with is valuable, too.

Dory1970 Sun 02-Oct-16 22:34:38

Thanks both for your advice and wisdom. There's things you have both highlighted that dd may not have thought of. As much as I would love dd get the job that she wants and enjoy. I'm more mindful that she may need to find a alternative path if things don't pan out. Since it's in a field that's so hard to get into.
At the moment uni has been brilliant letting her do some low level work, some data entry, experiments on participants for current research they have going. Some of the angst and constraints that can happen, which are all valuable experience. Shes happy to go and do alot more of this type of work experience whilst it's available. She really enjoys it being part of a team. But I worry how it's going to be when there's no opportunities and it dries up after she graduates and goes on to get her master's. She knows she isn't going to be changing the world with her ideas any time soon. Heck she doesn't have any yet I don't think. She has so much more to learn from others yet. Becca do you regret choosing the researcher path and would you do anything different?

Becca19962014 Sun 02-Oct-16 22:42:45

I loved the work. The only reason I left was it being uncertain, I didn't know what would happen one academic year to the next. I know I was lucky to get to do what I did with my (lack of) qualifications. Qualifications may have helped with the learning curve which was steep but wouldn't have influenced available work. I was lucky to work with a research manager who was, and is, very well thought of in that academic subject, but again that was luck.

Not sure if that helps much, sorry!

Dory1970 Mon 03-Oct-16 00:52:25

If there isn't going to make much of a difference where she does her master's. She might aswell stay and do it at the uni shes at currently. She gets on well with the lecturers and quite likes it there. Shes at a northern uni so rent on accomodation is relatively cheap good transport links home. Houses are also cheap to buy if she ends up staying there for good. In about 5 years time I expect there will be alot more students with MA/MSc now that there's funding available. What qualifications will students have to do next to give them the edge once the numbers and proportion of postgraduate is similar to undergrads??

Becca19962014 Mon 03-Oct-16 07:08:59

The loans aren't for everyone in uk though. Only England so that'll impact as will repayment.

Dory1970 Mon 03-Oct-16 10:54:52

DD is in North Yorskhire?? Won't effect her I hope. Still England. I realise my English is badly written. Is my second language. Speak better than I write. I thought northern England is anywhere past Sheffield confused not good with geography either.

Becca19962014 Mon 03-Oct-16 11:47:51

Sorry I didn't explain myself very well I was responding to what you said about a lot more doing masters because of the new loans, e.g. With Scottish/Welsh/Irish students not allowed them (at least for now) there isn't going to be a massive impact.

I didn't mean to imply you weren't in England, I assumed you were. Not at my best at 7am (or the rest of the day after being woken at 6am!)

Dory1970 Mon 03-Oct-16 12:19:47

Phew thanks becca for explaining.

impostersyndrome Mon 03-Oct-16 22:41:20

Not wishing to contradict others, but it'd be highly unusual to do an MSc, followed by an MRes in my field. They tend to run in parallel, with students taking many classes together, but then in the spring the latter focus on a longer dissertation in parallel to generic research skills and the former have a wider curriculum (by definition, a taught MSc won't necessarily expect you to come in with a research area) and a shorter dissertation. An MRes is normally seen as a step towards a PhD or an EngD (engineering doctorate).

Prestige of where you've studied does count if you're applying for a PhD, but then we'd be looking at the quality of research on the department, rather than league tables per se. Not too difficult to find out: look at REF rankings.

Ps I hope your DD is doing her own research; good training in being an academic after all grin.

Dory1970 Tue 04-Oct-16 01:19:26

Thanks imposter. What you say makes alot of sense is helpful too. Our last deep conversation with dd before she left for uni was the 'what are your plans for the future?' I can't help it. But sometimes I wish I don't ask as it gets me more worried. DD is in final year now so I'm kind of anxious and worried for her future. She was talking saying she's in this dilemma of which masters to do and what's best and where to do it. Would we mind and maybe help pay for accomodation if shes short especially if ends up in London. If anything shes worried about the money, affordability and it compromising her choices. And I'm in the Masters are good wherever you get them from. But dd is in the 'No' masters aren't all the same mother. I feel I've not been very helpful to her. But I get it more now since you guys have explained things.

Lilianne Tue 04-Oct-16 02:28:20

Russell Group scientist here who is responsible for PhD training and scholarships in my department.

It doesn't matter a huge deal if it is a taught masters or a MRes, although we slightly prefer taught masters. We do expect excellent grades at bachelors and masters - at least 2.1 & merit, but to get PhD funding a first and distinction are helpful, or at least one of them. A masters from a top uni is always going to be a much better entry ticket than a masters from an ex-poly. I hate the system but a 2.1 from a Russell Group uni would be considered better than a first from a low-ranking one.

A research-active masters dissertation supervisor who works in the field of the intended PhD would be good, as it can be possible to attach to other research projects they do and get funding that way.

There are also a lot of 'soft criteria' that help with PhD scholarships: being able to demonstrate determination/perseverance/leadership/enthusiasm, e.g. Student union activities, in sports clubs, volunteer work, in summer jobs or wherever. Going the extra mile and having 'studied widely', for example doing extra voluntary things such as helping organise a conference, internship, attending departmental seminar series, taking an extra optional module...

I read a lot of PhD scholarship applications, and ideal candidates are excellent academically, passionate about the subject, have a god idea what they would like to do during their PhD and beyond, and have shown they can work on a project and make a success of it.

Good luck! Not an easy career but very rewarding.

shovetheholly Tue 04-Oct-16 13:56:56

I would go for a taught course for the simple reason that it's likely to be more enjoyable than a research one - more contact with fellow students, a diverse syllabus that really gives a rounded grounding in the area, and a structured course. Research can be VERY easy to get lost in, and few students really have the indepth experience right after a degree to take this on. Doing a PhD after a taught MA feels like a more natural route for a lot of students.

impostersyndrome Tue 04-Oct-16 13:58:04

Again, different perspective from another Russell Group academic. I couldn't care less about extra curricular activity and in fact, I tend to ignore it as it's unfair to those who've had to work through their studies. What I'll be looking for in an MSc/MRes and subsequently a PhD applicant is: grades (particularly on the dissertation), any relevant work experience, prizes, publications (though not imperative, impressive if they've made it to a conference) and the references. On top of that: their research statement has to show a deep understanding of the field as well as familiarity with our research group's own work.

An MSc applicant won't need a developed research topic (here's the point of distinction from an MRes), but should show that they've read around the course's subject area and - importantly - can explain why they want to do the course. We don't want people just to fill the seats, they have to be able to get something out of the course.

Oh, and by the way, correct spelling, grammar and the absence of the word 'passion' are imperative!

Dory1970 Tue 04-Oct-16 18:00:40

Oh wow thanks everyone flowers wasn't expecting so much help and info. You guys have really helped me fill in all the gaps of info that I just didn't understand before. I can see why Dd said I was thinking a bit too simple, masters isn't a box ticking exercise which I thought it was. It's a more complex process especially for the career she wants to get into. I think she got very frustrated with me as I was questioning her reasons for wanting to do masters in London, would it be worth it and all that. And i just wasn't getting it. I felt she was taking too much of a gamble and not thinking of plan B . Now I feel really bad . As by the looks of it if there's so many differing opinions on here on how they see things. I can see now why Dd is in a dilemma, there's so much to consider and Ive only been adding to her problem not supporting or helping. I think now I can actually feel confident I can have a better more supportive conversation with Dd and she don't feel I'm not being helpful because I don't appreciate the ins and outs of things. I want to support her and help her move forward but I don't want her to end up doing things alone because she thinks we don't understand so don't say anything to us. If she wants to go to London she has my blessing now. Thanks again everyone smile

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