Postgraduate research programs in the UK and Ireland

Postgraduate research programs in the UK and Ireland

What makes research degrees stand out in postgraduate studies?

As laid out by the University of Birmingham, postgraduate research courses “involve the completion of original academic research. They also include research skills training that will equip [one] to become an independent researcher, capable of advancing knowledge in [their specific] field.”

There are two types of research degrees: research master’s degrees and doctoral degrees. Under the former, we have the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and the Master of Research (MRes). The MPhil degree is a strictly philosophical field which is a shorter version of the PhD. MPhil students need to complete a thesis which presents the results of their study and research, and be a maximum of 60,000 words. The MRes is very similar to a MPhil, except that it is entirely research-focused. It is a relatively new and advanced postgraduate research degree that is mainly popular in the UK. The degree structure involves a large dissertation, usually about 40,000 words, based on independent research or a practice-led research project.

For doctoral degrees, there are Doctor in Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Medicine (MD), and other Professional Doctorates. The PhD can be thought of as the “classic” doctoral research degree and the highest level of academic qualification one can achieve. PhD degrees normally take between three to four years of full-time work to complete since one must have proven their thorough understanding of their field of study through the ability to conceptualise, design, and implement a research project that generates new knowledge and applications. The MD on the other hand is a doctoral degree open to medical practitioners and can be found within a wide range of medical practice settings.


Postgraduate research programs in the UK and Ireland

Universities in the UK and Ireland are some of the most prestigious around the globe, and some of the world’s most highly regarded research have taken place in British universities. According to the International Facts and Figures 2022 report of the Universities UK (UUK), “[t]he UK produced the third-largest research output in the world …. [and] boasts the largest share of internationally co-authored publications. 60.4% of the UK’s research output was internationally co-authored in 2021 (SciVal, 2021).” In terms of numbers, based on the same report, the UK achieved the following in 2021: produced 6.4% of the world’s publications, received 10.4% of the world’s citations, and 9.3% of the UK’s publications were in the top five percent of the world’s most-cited publications (SciVal, 2021).

Given the UK’s globally trusted and recognised education, top ranking universities, and its reputation as a sought after study destination, gaining a postgraduate degree from a university in the UK can open doors worldwide. Whether students wish to carry on with the Graduate Route to find employment within the UK, return to their home countries, or venture elsewhere for their next career move, having a postgraduate research degree from the UK in their arsenal is like having an ace up their sleeve – its globally recognised value is sure to help them land meaningful jobs in their respective fields.


GSP partners offering research programs

We’ve prepared a list of our partner institutions in the UK and Ireland that offer excellent research programs that are sure to benefit individuals looking to expand their education and upskill their industry knowledge.


The UK

Birmingham City University (BCU)

At BCU, students receive first-class education with a focus on practical skills and professional relevance. As one of the oldest universities, BCU has kept up with the times with its state-of-the-art campuses and facilities, and even specialist laboratories for the newer courses.

Some research programs offered:

  • Master of Research (MRes) Sport and Exercise
  • Master of Research (MRes) Life Science
  • Master of Research (MRes) Health


Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU)

Research at GCU focuses on finding solutions to three of society’s biggest challenges; living Healthy lives, building Inclusive societies and creating Sustainable environments. Pursuing a research program at GCU means part of world-class research centred on excellence and quality. 

Some research programs offered:

  • Master of Research Health and Life Sciences
  • Master of Research (MRes) Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment


University of the West of Scotland (UWS)

The University of the West Scotland is officially ranked by Times Higher Education in the top 150 of universities worldwide under 50 years old (2022 Young University Rankings). In the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 90 per cent of research at the University of the West of Scotland was classed as world-leading, internationally excellent, or recognised internationally. UWS was also crowned Higher Educational Institution of the Year 2022 (The Herald Higher Education Awards).

Some research programs offered:

  • Master of Research (MRes) – Education and Social Sciences
  • Master of Research (MRes) – Life Science
  • Master of Research (MRes) – Business and Creative Industries
  • Master of Research (MRes) – Health



Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Galway
formerly Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT)

ATU, a college with teaching and research at its core, aims to enhance its investment in excellent applied learning, teaching and research environments. It strives to reflect the real needs of business, enterprise and the professions in our region, as well as be a preferred partner for research and an enterprise innovator that attracts, supports and encourages students and staff from all over the world, enabling them to reach their full potential.

Some research programs offered:

  • Master of Arts in Artificial Intelligence Research
  • Master of Arts in Cloud Technologies Research


University of Limerick (UL)

A vibrant and entrepreneurial place to learn, UL offers over 200 postgraduate programs across four faculties, including Graduate Diplomas, taught and research Masters programs, structured PhD programs and Professional Doctorates. With internationally-renowned programs, world-leading research collaborations, and an unrivalled graduate employment rate, UL has everything graduates need to get ahead in their chosen disciplines. 

Some research programs offered:

  • Structured Masters by Research
  • Masters in Sociology
  • Masters in Languages, Literature, Culture, and Communications


To learn more about the programs, admission requirements and tuition fees, visit the GSP platform for more details.

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