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Research Masters

Our Masters by Research degree (MRes) provides an opportunity to develop your research expertise and advanced skills. The MRes is (when taken full-time) a one-year Masters degree that is undertaken as a research project. It emphasises independent but supervised research; our MRes students work closely with at least two supervisors, who provide support through each stage of designing and completing an original piece of research. Many of our students go on to publish their work in leading journals.

The MRes offers a research-intensive alternative to taught masters courses, and provides the opportunity for you to work within a vibrant, world-leading research environment, often on aspects of active research projects. Our MRes can be taken to achieve either an MSc or MA. It provides a further qualification for a career where independent research skills will set you apart, and provides an excellent platform and research experience for subsequent PhD research.

Projects and funding

A list of available research projects is provided below. You can also approach academic and research Staff with your ideas; your supervisor will support you to develop your ideas. We have also provided a summary of some common sources of funding support for MRes projects in the Department of Geography.

Available Research Projects

List of currently available Masters projects proposed by staff

Available Scholarships

A summary of MRes funding Scholarships
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How to apply

Full details of application process can be found on the University How to Apply webpage, with a summary and some additional information provided below. If you need help with your application, please contact Dr. Matthew Brain, Deputy Director of Postgraduate Studies.

  • Firstly, ensure that you meet the entry requirements for the MRes course. The MRes is open to any student with a Bachelor’s degree (2:1 or first-class degree, or equivalent) in a science or social science subject. The MRes is suitable for students with a science, engineering, social science or an arts background.
  • Finding the right supervisor for you is an important step in postgraduate studies. You will meet with your supervisor regularly as they support you through each step of successfully designing and completing independent research. A key stage of applying for an MRes degree is to secure the agreement by at least one member of academic or research staff to supervise your MRes project. To find a fit that is right for you, we encourage you to get in touch with potential supervisors to discuss your research ideas, and how best to match your intellectual interests with their expertise. Details about our academic and research staff and their research interests can be found on Staff pages. Alternatively, contact Dr. Matthew Brain, Deputy Director of Postgraduate Studies, who can help to match you with an appropriate supervisor.
  • The next step is to develop an MRes project proposal. In some cases, supervisors have projects with positions they are looking to fill. A list of available research projects proposed by supervisors can be found on our Available Research Projects webpage. You can also approach potential supervisors with some initial ideas; your supervisor will support you in developing your ideas and refining your proposal. Given the short project duration and likely limitations on funding sources for fieldwork, the scope of MRes project needs careful consideration. MRes projects that focus on use of existing datasets and/or samples collected as part of previous field campaigns are good starting points that limit the need for additional fieldwork.
  • At this stage, you may wish to consider sources of funding to support you and to pay course tuition fees during your MRes degree. We have provided a summary of some common sources of funding support for MRes projects in the Department of Geography on our MRes Scholarships webpage. In addition, we have paid opportunities for research postgraduates to contribute to our teaching program as Graduate Teaching Assistant; this might involve running tutorials, providing laboratory demonstrations, and/or teaching on our domestic and international fieldtrips. Training is provided via the Durham Centre for Academic Development.
  • Next, you will need to apply for the MRes course through Durham’s Applicant Portal. You don’t have to submit your application all in one go.  The application is organised into sections such that once you’ve started it, you can save it and come back to it at any time.  You will need to submit details and evidence (transcripts) of your academic qualifications to date, your agreed research proposal and, if appropriate, certification of a recognised English language qualification. You will also need to provide the details of, or references from, two referees, and a personal statement in which you can explain, for example, your motivation to undertake a research degree and how this might fit with future career plans; why you are solid candidate for the project; and the skills, experience and qualities you bring to the project and Department. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of your documents with you when you apply as you can upload them later through the portal.