Research degrees

Research degrees in the Faculties of Arts and Divinity are usually offered to students who have already obtained a good Masters degree in their chosen area of research.

In the Faculty of Science, research degrees are usually undertaken by students already holding a good undergraduate degree.


The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) research degree is usually three and a half years full time. At St Andrews, 98% of research students are studying for a PhD. The qualification is completed upon submission of a substantial thesis of original research. You will be supported by a supervisor and second supervisor throughout your time with us. You may also have the opportunity to teach undergraduate-level work. This pattern of research allows you to focus on your doctoral thesis from the very start.

MRes, MSc (Res), MSt (Res)

The Master of Research (MRes), the Master of Science by Research (MSc (Res)) and the Master of Studies by Research (MSt (Res)) are research-based Masters degrees. You will engage in a full-time research project and write a dissertation. It is an excellent opportunity to spend a shorter time in a research environment either for a standalone degree or as preparation for a PhD.


The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing is a postgraduate degree offered by the School of English, and allows students to complete a substantial piece of creative work. It is also the standard qualification for those who wish to teach Creative Writing. It consists of two distinct years of study in either prose or poetry; both years include careers skills modules. The first year is taught through technical seminars, workshops and individual tuition. In the second year, students will receive individual supervision and submit creative work in the form of a short thesis.


The Engineering Doctorate (EngD) is a four-year research degree with a strong industry focus. A substantial amount of time is dedicated to research work, usually based at the premises of the sponsor company, with the remaining time being spent on taught coursework at the University.


A Master of Philosophy (MPhil) is a stepping-stone between the Masters-level degree and a doctoral degree. The first year comprises taught modules which may be undergraduate or postgraduate level depending on the subject area, while the second year is dedicated to a thesis of up to 40,000 words. Some well-qualified candidates with a good postgraduate degree in a relevant discipline or a suitable research background may be admitted directly into the second year to begin the research thesis.


The Doctor in Medicine (MD) degree is offered by the School of Medicine to candidates holding a recognised medical qualification.

Joint PhDs (co-tutelles)

Tailored opportunities for joint PhDs, allowing students to conduct doctoral research at two institutions and to obtain to a jointly awarded degree are also available. For further information see postgraduate research collaborations.

Before applying to study a research degree at the University of St Andrews, please make sure that you have found a suitable supervisor first. As a prospective research student, you will apply to work with an individual supervisor or a supervisory team within a School or Institute.

It is your own responsibility to find a supervisor who may be interested in working with you before you apply for a research degree. You can search for a researcher or academic by keywords using the St Andrews research portal, and you should contact a researcher directly by email explaining your background and what you would like to research.