What is a research degree?
The main aim of any research programme is to carry out original research that furthers knowledge in your chosen subject field. This will involve working under the direction of one or more supervisors who are experts in your field, and sometimes as part of a team, with other students and staff.
Imperial College London offers the following research degrees:
What is a research degree accordion
MRes – Master of Research
The MRes is a postgraduate qualification, awarded on the results of examinations (usually consisting of both written papers and the submission of a dissertation or report) following a course of advanced study, normally taking one year full-time to complete. It is a research-orientated route that offers greater independence of learning and increased specialisation for those intending to undertake extensive research. It provides a good foundation for doctoral study or a research career in industry or in the public sector. If you are studying for an MRes, visit our Success Guide for Master's students for helpful hints and tips.
PhD – Doctor of Philosophy
This is the most common kind of doctoral programme. Normally it takes at least three years full time to complete, the majority of which is spent carrying out original research. To complete the PhD you will need to submit a thesis of up to 100,000 words. You will also be examined orally (known as a viva voce examination) by two or more examiners, both internal and external to the College. In this assessment you must demonstrate that your work has made a contribution to knowledge in your subject field.
Imperial offers a number of different types of PhD, such as Split PhDs, Joint PhDs, and those within the Partner Research Institution Scheme. Make sure you are fully aware of which degree you are studying for and which requirements apply to you.
MD(Res) – Doctor of Medicine by Research
Only available to clinicians, the MD(Res) normally takes two years full time to complete, the majority of which is spent carrying out original research. To complete the MD(Res) you will need to submit a thesis of up to 50,000 words. You will also be examined orally (known as a viva voce examination) by two or more examiners. In this assessment you must demonstrate that your work has made a contribution to knowledge in your subject field.
EngD – Doctor of Engineering
A four-year research degree of similar standing to a PhD. At Imperial, it is offered in certain EPSRC-funded Centres for Doctoral Training. Most of your time (50–75% depending on the project) is usually spent on an industrial placement, undertaking research on behalf of your host company. You also spend around nine months taking advanced technical and managerial courses. You will be assessed by formally taught elements assessed by examination or coursework. Satisfactory performance in the taught elements is a requirement for transfer to EngD registration.