MS Taught & MS Research Courses: What's the Difference?


Samarpita Goswami
Updated on Apr 26, 2023 02:25 PM IST

MS taught and MS research based courses have their own advantages. Check out the article to find out the main differences between the two and which course will suit your academic and professional goals.

MS Taught & MS Research Courses: What's the Difference?

If you wish to pursue higher education after completing bachelors, you must be aware that there are various formats of postgraduation courses. It can range from vocational diplomas and certificates to masters and doctoral degrees. Holding MS level qualification testifies to your grit to learn and specialisation in a particular field. 

While most undergraduate programmes are delivered through taught courses, masters degree courses can be either postgraduate taught (PGT) or postgraduate research courses (PGR). Therefore, you have to choose between MS taught and MS research courses when it comes to studying masters. Now the question arises which course should you study? While MS taught is delivered through lectures, practical sessions and seminars, MS research emphasises research through expert training and supervision that will help you develop skills for a research-based career. Research-based courses are generally of longer duration. 

There is a big contrast between the two courses and it is necessary to understand both of them in detail and decide which one will suit your career goals. In this article, we will attempt to dissect MS taught and MS research courses and find their differences which help you decide the kind of master's programme that will be the best fit for you. 

Our study abroad experts can help you choose between MS taught and MS research courses.

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What is MS Taught Degree?

An MS taught degree is focused on taught aspects of study which includes tutorials, lectures and seminars. They are usually of one-year length and a maximum of two years if taken part-time. The course comprises a number of modules and is assessed by a combination of coursework, dissertation and examination. In other words, MS taught courses are more like a continuation of an undergraduate degree and has a planned intellectual progression. 

These courses are sometimes referred to as Level 7 qualifications. MS taught programmes include several months of taught classes and a few months of an intensive independent research project. The content of these courses is highly specialised and equips you for a career that requires specialist knowledge. They are often the stepping stones for a more advanced research-based degree. MS taught is specially focused on the advancement in a particular aspect of scientific research across the sciences, engineering, mathematics or fields that include logic, numbers or scientific research. The programmes must include 180 credits and usually takes 1800 hours to complete. 

What is MS Research Degree?

An MS Research degree involves the completion of original academic research. They will also provide research skill training to equip you to become an independent researcher who is capable of advancing knowledge in your field.  They usually have very few taught classes. You will still have a professor to guide you through your studies and provide you with the necessary assistance.

The MS Research is also a Level 7 qualification with a focus on teaching research methods. The research programme regulations govern the curriculum and student experience. The programmes are modular and must include 180 credits with 30 credits of identifiable and transferable skills modules and a 105-150 credit dissertation project. The number of end-to-end year exams is lesser than MS taught courses. A continuous evaluation process goes on and you do not have to wait for the end of the year to know your grades. It is extremely important to be self-motivated enough to drive your research work. A research masters is the best option for you if you want to add original ideas to a research proposal. It also helps in easy progression to PhD. 

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Difference Between MS Taught and MS Research Courses

The main difference between MS taught and MS research courses largely amount to the level of autonomy you have during your studies. Here we will try to do a comparative analysis between the two postgraduate-level courses:


MS Taught

MS Research


12-24 months

18 months to 24 months


Professional and vocational course

Research based course


Lecture, Seminars, Coursework

Research Training and Dissertation 

Degree Offered


MRes, MS by research

Timetabled Units




Frequent assessments

Oral examination 

Level of Independence

Less autonomy

More flexible


At the end of the year

Continous feedback on grades

Should You Choose MS Taught?

An MS taught is predominantly structured around taught courses and lectures, seminars and workshops. You will have a wide variety of choices of courses to choose from. It will also follow a similar schedule to bachelors degree giving you an idea of what you should expect. Taught masters courses are a great option for those who want to gain in-depth knowledge of a subject while boosting their prospects of employment. 

You will get the opportunity to learn the course along with your classmates and can enjoy group work and participation in seminars and workshops. Also, a taught course will help to increase the periphery of your knowledge by helping you to learn about new things. If your career goal is outside academia then an MS taught course is the best option. However, it is not difficult to transition to a research-based MPhil or PhD after MS taught course if you satisfy the eligibility requirements. 

The probable disadvantage of MS taught courses can be that it offers less flexibility to students. They have to abide by the course schedule and function according to the direction of the university. Further, the universities may charge higher tuition fees for MS taught courses. 

Should You Choose MS Research?

MS research courses are more independent than MS taught courses. There will be very few or no timetabled units. Instead of attending lectures, you will have to focus on one or more extended projects. Though you will receive support from your supervisor, the focal point will be your own research work which you will have to carry out with detailed research methods. 

If you are interested in academic research or want to join a profession where research skills will be valued then the MS research course will likely appeal to you. You will be able to concentrate on an independent project that will help you garner research skills enabling an easy transition to a longer research degree. A research proposal has to be submitted where you will have to detail the main questions which you will answer. You will have to prove how these questions are unique and significant to your work and how you are a suitable person for this research project. You will then analyse your findings and publish your research.

Studying MS research can be a lonely experience as there is no peer involvement. Occasionally you will get a chance to interact with your supervisor. It will also provide a lack of variety in subject matter and you will not get a well-rounded skill set. Moreover, it requires self-motivation to carry out such an extensive research project. 

Related Reads:

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MS Taught vs MS Research: Which One is Better?

While choosing between MS taught and MS research, It is extremely difficult to favour one course over the other. Both the courses have their own merits and demerits. Therefore, you should be open-minded in your approach and must analyse which part of the curriculum you enjoy most in your undergraduate programme. Further, you will also have to weigh your own goals and aspirations. 

If you like researching and writing dissertations, then an MS research course is more suitable for you to polish and accelerate your academic and research skills. On the other hand, if you struggle to write essays and are good at assessments and presentations then MS taught course is congruent with your academic goals.

Your final decision must be based on the field of study that interests you most. Keeping the debate aside studying MS at a university is a prized experience in itself. Both courses will help you to achieve your dreams and ambitions. 

If you are still in a dilemma to choose between MS taught and MS research, then you can write to us at

Choose the Best Course to Study MS Abroad!


What is the difference between the coursework of MS taught and MS research?

The main difference between the coursework of MS taught and MS research is that MS taught courses are based on lectures, seminars, workshops, lab works and presentations while MS research courses involves independent research on a topic by collecting data, analysing and drawing conclusions from them. There are no lectures or seminars in MS research based courses.

What is the difference in duration between MS taught and MS research?

The difference in duration between MS taught and MS research is that MS taught can be completed in 12 months if attended full-time. For part-time courses, it may take around 24 months. MS research courses on the other hand take longer time to complete and can take up to 36 months to complete. 

What is the difference in assessment between MS taught and MS research courses?

There are regular assessments and examinations conducted throughout the year in MS taught courses. MS research courses. On the contrary, in MS research based courses students have to appear for an oral examination or viva while defending their research dissertation. There is no scheme for regular examinations. 

What are the advantages of an MS taught course?

The advantages of an MS taught course are several. There is an availability of a variety of subjects and courses to choose from. The course has better chances of employment opportunities. Students get the chance to be in constant touch with their peers and professors. 

What are the advantages of an MS research course?

MS research courses are advantageous as they help in the gradual transition to an MPhil or PhD degree. Instead of several topics, students can focus on a single topic and fare well. It prepares them for a research based career. Finally, it offers great flexibility in studying. 

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