Types of courses

Master’s level study at Imperial is designed to be challenging. 

It is a progression from undergraduate study and is usually more specialised, interdisciplinary, or orientated to a specific profession.

It often involves learning new technical skills, and requires you to think about concepts and methods more critically and more deeply than at undergraduate level.

Explore the different types of postgraduate taught courses we offer at Imperial.

Master's qualifications

Master of Science (MSc)

What is it?

  • Provides in-depth training in a specialist subject as well as an opportunity to hone your expertise and develop your research and/or technical skills.
  • Combines taught material with an element of independent research, normally assessed in the form of a substantial dissertation or report.

Career path

Very flexible, providing the foundation for specialisation or diversification into a different sector/industry.

Also often the route onto a graduate programme or into a more specialised role.

Imperial MSc alumni include:

  • Formula 1 aerodynamicist
  • Researcher/scientist
  • Antibiotic pharmacist
  • Investment banking analyst
  • Energy sector field engineer
  • Engineering consultant
  • Entrepreneur

Master of Research (MRes)

What is it?

  • A research-orientated route which 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.

Career path

Further research either as a research assistant or PhD student. Many of the courses offered at Imperial are science based and therefore lead to scientific positions.

Imperial MRes alumni include:

  • Development engineer
  • Marine conservationist
  • Biomedical scientist
  • Research technician
  • Medical scientist

Master of Public Health (MPH)

What is it?

  • Combines taught material with a compulsory dissertation and placement as a public health professional.
  • Includes a specialist stream in Global Health for students who want to understand the health, economic, political, social and bio-medical challenges and innovations associated with poor health worldwide.

Career path

Public health practice and related fields.

Imperial MPH alumni include:

  • Medical educator
  • Public health specialist
  • Environmental health officer

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

What is it?

  • For people in a demanding job who want to accelerate or change their careers.
  • Offered within Imperial College Business School as a one year full-time programme, a weekend version, a two-year Executive MBA, and a two-year Global MBA, delivered online.

Career path

Requires prior three years or more work experience.

The Imperial MBA is ideally suited to those with a strong specialised or technical background, now seeking to progress into strategic and leadership roles.

Imperial MBA alumni include:

  • Business development manager
  • Senior consultant
  • Project manager
  • Product strategy
  • Entrepreneur

Master of Education (MEd)

What is it?

Founded in research but also includes taught material and a compulsory dissertation.

At Imperial, the MEd is offered in University Learning and Teaching, aimed primarily at Imperial and associated staff.

Career path

Progression in an established career in the field.

Imperial MEd alumni include:

  • Surgical registrar
  • Consultant anaesthetist
  • Doctor
  • Medical researcher

Postgraduate certificates and diplomas

PG Certificates (PG Certs) and PG Diplomas (PG Dips) are vocational qualifications at the same level as the Master's qualifications listed above.

They offer specialist training in a specific area of medicine or life sciences. They are well suited to professionals by offering you the chance to enhance your professional development without requiring the same time commitment as an MSc.

At Imperial:

  • PG Cert is worth at least 30 credits
  • PG Dip is worth at least 60 credits (when combined with the PG Cert)

Where a PG Cert and PG Dip are offered, it is usually possible to take each qualification as a standalone course (though pre-requisites may apply). 

These courses may also be used as part of progression to an MSc. See our course pages for details.

Research project

We place great emphasis on the integration of our Master’s level courses with our world class research portfolio.

Your course will normally include a significant piece of research that will be submitted as a report or dissertation.

You may also undergo a viva (oral examination) on your work. MRes students may undertake more than one project, with this component accounting for more than 50 per cent of the final degree award.

The quality of your own understanding, thinking and initiative are very important in the research project, demonstrated by posing questions and seeking answers, using and applying techniques and research skills, analysing data, and reviewing literature.

On most courses, there is a period of several months with little scheduled teaching when the bulk of the research project is carried out, requiring you to plan your time effectively. 

Your project will normally be supervised by an academic member of staff. However, they may delegate some of the day-to-day supervision to a member of their team, such as a PhD student, who can give you more practical advice.

Professional development

All Master's students at Imperial have access to a free programme of professional development through the Graduate School.

This covers a range of skills to help you with your studies, from mastering presentations to undertaking research.

There is also a focus on careers development, ensuring you are well equipped to meet your career goals.