MEng/MSci and Doctorate - how does it work now?

(19 Posts)
OhYouBadBadKitten Sun 25-Jun-17 15:33:13

In ye ancient olden days I think most undergrad degrees were 3 year courses. Then if you wanted to go on to do post grad you would do a Masters or a masters that led into a doctorate.

Dd is looking at courses now. Many of them are four year courses and they come out with MEng or MSci or similar. Is the final year still an under grad year? What happens then if they want to go on to do post grad studies? Would they do a post grad masters, or straight into a Doctorate?

Do the four year courses mean that the three year courses aren't as useful for someone interested in academia at this point?

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RandomlyGenerated Sun 25-Jun-17 16:03:56

For engineering, the integrated MEng is the highest level of undergrad degree, and means that you can go for Chartered status more easily. If you decide you don't want to do the final Masters year you can finish a year early with a BEng at many places.

You could still go on and do a specialist MSc for instance afterwards, eg MEng in Civil Engineering and then an MSc in a specialism.

OhYouBadBadKitten Sun 25-Jun-17 22:50:49

cool, thanks! For maths is it a similar thing?

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OhYouBadBadKitten Sun 25-Jun-17 22:52:59

I think I should have put MMath in the title! I've looked at so many courses with her today that I'm going a bit doolally.

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ErrolTheDragon Sun 25-Jun-17 23:07:26

In ye ancient olden days I think most undergrad degrees were 3 year courses. Then if you wanted to go on to do post grad you would do a Masters or a masters that led into a doctorate.

The norm for scientists back in my day was 3yr BSc then either a masters (taught, not research) or straight into a PhD - though the odd one or who'd only got 2:2s had to submit a research masters before continuing with a PhD.

Not particularly relevant to your question though!

user7214743615 Mon 26-Jun-17 08:48:48

To be a strong candidate for a PhD position in a top group, you would need either a 4 year MMath or a 3 year BSc + 1 year MSc. It would be difficult to get a top position without this - although not impossible, as one can get integrated PhD positions where the first year is taught masters level courses.

The choice between MMath and BSc + MSc depends on the subject area. For statistics and financial maths, the latter is more common. For pure maths, applied maths, mathematical physics, entering with an MMath is the norm.

Funding considerations also play a role. Until recently UK students were reluctant to do an MSc because of lack of funding. Now there are loans available the MSc option is likely to prove more popular, as the MSc fees are often lower than undergraduate fees and the project component of the MSc leads naturally into research.

BTW for Maths it was never the case in the distant past that the path was bachelors + masters + PhD in the UK. It used to be bachelors plus PhD in many universities and bachelors plus part III (Cambridge fourth year) or equivalent plus PhD for the most competitive groups.

ErrolTheDragon Mon 26-Jun-17 09:45:32

The MSc fees might be lower, but it's an extra loan, whereas an integrated masters is one loan. My understanding is that once over the 21K earning threshold, for a separate Msc they would be repaying the undergrad 9% plus 6% for the masters loan, whereas for an integrated M it's just the 9% (though obv with a larger debt than for a 3yr course). For many realistic career paths I suspect the person with a separate M loan would be paying 15% rather than 9% 'graduate tax' for 30 years. You might want to do some spreadsheets to work out the implications.

I don't know about maths but in some subjects it seems as though MScs are mostly overseas students.

I've just remembered that in some fields its still definitely still possible to do a 3yr B and then straight into PhD - I've a niece doing this at the moment (very sciency geog).


Needmoresleep Mon 26-Jun-17 10:14:00

user7214743615 is right in that for financial maths, a separate Masters is more common. However fees can then be a problem as they are not capped in the way that UG and intergrated Masters fees are.

One example is Imperial's MSc Maths and Finance where home students pay £29,500 fees for a year. Similarly LSE's Masters in Risk Management is £25,944.

Fine for those who are headed off for well paid jobs in the City, but difficult for anyone interested in a quantitative Masters as a route to further academic study.

So if your DD is potentially interested in using maths for a finance job, they may be better placed looking for somewhere that offers Financial Maths as an option within an integrated Masters.

OhYouBadBadKitten Mon 26-Jun-17 13:36:30

It's quite confusing! Her interests are definitely in pure maths. College have told her that MMath is the way to go, but I wanted to check for myself grin I didn't want her to end up doing an MMath and the M bit not really counting and her having to do another MSc if that's what she fancied down the line. (who knows what will happen in a few years though)

Wish I'd thought to ask this at the college UCAS evening,

I seem to remember some of my fellow STEM students going on to do a masters, I don't remember how my friends who were doing a doctorate got to that point.

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ErrolTheDragon Mon 26-Jun-17 15:33:42

Wish I'd thought to ask this at the college UCAS evening,

Would they necessarily know? The best source of information on university courses is the universities - presumably she's doing open days now and in the autumn, ask! And if she doesn't get clear answers from that, she can email a few admissions tutors. IME they want people to choose the right course for them and are very helpful.

If a course is structured so that they can do a B in 3 or an M in 4, afaik the only downside to applying for the M is that the offer might be a grade or two higher - thats how it seemed to be for Eng, anyway.

RandomlyGenerated Mon 26-Jun-17 16:15:40

Required grades were the same for BEng and MEng courses that we looked at, so may not be a problem - just check the online prospectus.

Plenty of undergrads still seem to do a BSc then either an MSc or PhD - BSc is still an entry route to PhD for many subjects.

user7214743615 Mon 26-Jun-17 16:18:02

She cannot know that her interests lie in pure maths before she starts the degree - pure maths, applied maths etc at A level bear little relation to the same subjects at university.

She can enrol on an MMath and change at any time to a BSc, and vice versa (although continuing to the fourth year is subject to minimum grades) so she is not restricting her options by what she chooses now.

She also really can't know whether she will want to continue into a Masters/PhD before she even starts her degree. Maths at university often doesn't turn out the way people expect it to.

OhYouBadBadKitten Mon 26-Jun-17 16:56:21

That's true User, its always hard to really know and she may well change her mind umpteen times. However, she has a deeper understanding of maths than a typical a level student for reasons I won't go into here. At the moment its about keeping options open for her.

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OhYouBadBadKitten Mon 26-Jun-17 16:58:49

I'm trying not to sound too wanky about things confused

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titchy Mon 26-Jun-17 17:47:00

I'd suggest go for the integrated Masters initially, then once she's been at university actually doing maths and talking to academics she'll have a better idea of suitable trajectory, and it's often easier to drop to BSc from integrated than the other way round.

Regarding loan, the new masters loans are repayable at a lower rate, but are paid back concurrent with UG loans, so 15% as a PP said. However the Masters loan would be paid off much earlier. An extra year of UG loan would be lower repayments but maybe for longer. Integrated gets you maintenance loan as well which might make a difference?

As she's mathsy get her to work out the best solution financially grin

OhYouBadBadKitten Mon 26-Jun-17 17:49:25

grin I'll do that!!

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user7214743615 Mon 26-Jun-17 18:00:47

* it's often easier to drop to BSc from integrated than the other way round.*

This is not true for Maths. It is straightforward to transfer in both directions, provided that the minimum grades required for proceeding to the fourth year are achieved.

Currently a number of UK MSc Maths programmes offer scholarships to top UK students. This may well change with Brexit/immigration policies but at the moment the cost of an MSc could be well below that of the fourth year of a degree.

MSc in financial maths in London are anomalously expensive. Go outside London and you will find plenty of good MSc programmes (more than sufficient for academic purposes) for a fraction of the price.

snidgetowl Mon 26-Jun-17 18:23:46

As user said, transferring in both directions is relatively straightforward, provided you have the grades required to progress to the Masters. DP started on an MMath course, before deciding during his second year to switch to a BSc, followed by an MSc in a more specialized subject. He is currently studying for his doctorate, which is more closely related to the Masters subject. DSil however started on a BSc and the swtiched to an MMath. All they had to do was fill in a form noting their intentions and everything was sorted smoothly. The main difference I believe is that an undergraduate masters such as the MMath would still be eligible for a student loan, whereas your DD would have to apply for scholarships/external funding for the MSc.

BobbinThreadbare123 Mon 26-Jun-17 18:30:52

I did MPhys and went straight on to PhD. That 4th year is so worth it. I really enjoyed the project and, ignoring the PhD, it gives me an edge over BSc holders. If you're at un because you are academic and love your subject, the integrated Masters are a good way forward. You have to have a 2:1 or 1st to move on to doctorate though. If you get a 2:2 you've got to do a post grad Masters and pay the higher fees!

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