Quality Manual

Regulations for the Degree of Master of Arts by Research (MA by Research) and Master of Science by Research (MSc by Research) from September 2018

This page contains the regulations for the Degree of Master of Arts by Research (MA by Research) and Master of Science by Research (MSc by Research) from September 2018. Its content is relevant to staff and students across all of the UK, China and Malaysia campuses.

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Please be aware that during academic year 2019/20, the University introduced exceptional regulations in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This page was previously affected by these arrangements and has been documented accordingly. 

Further details can be found in the "Exceptional regulations applied in response to Covid-19" section below.


For students commencing their programmes before this date, the MA/MSc by Research Regulations (pre-September 2018) will apply. For more information, please consult the following:

Regulations for the Degree of Master of Arts by Research (MA by Research) and Master of Science by Research (MSc by Research) before September 2018


Admissions requirements

1.   Requirements for admission to a research degree are set out in the Entry requirements section, which can be found here:

Entry requirements


Programme of study

2.   Students will be admitted to a one year, full-time (two years, part-time).

Taught and thesis elements

3.   Students are required to study modules worth 180 credits, of which a maximum of 60 credits may be obtained from taught modules at Level 4. The remaining credits (between 120 and 180) must be obtained from a thesis module at Level 4. Any taught modules taken must be clearly cognate with the student’s research topic. Supervision while undertaking the thesis module will be as set out in the module specification and in line with the requirements for supervision as set out in the regulations for research degrees.


Transfer to PhD

Includes: period of research for the degrees of PhD and MRes

4.   A candidate shall not be permitted to count the same period of research for both the degree of MA or MSc by Research and the degree of PhD. However a candidate for the MA or MSc by Research degree may, after a period of not less than nine months study for the MA or MSc by Research and prior to the submission of the thesis, with the approval of the supervisor and Head of School (or equivalent), submit an application to the University for permission to be registered as a candidate for the degree of PhD instead of a Master by Research. The period of registration for the degree of PhD should normally be three years (and not less than two years) full-time from the initial date of registration for the MA or MSc by Research.


Includes: module specifications; submission of thesis before end of registered study

5.   The assessment of all modules is as set out in the specifications for those modules. In regard to the thesis module, the maximum word length of the thesis is as follows:

  • Thesis worth 120 credits: Maximum 25,000 words
  • Thesis worth over 120 credits but less than 180 credits: Maximum 30,000 words
  • Thesis worth 180 credits: Maximum 40,000 words 

The maximum word limits are all inclusive of appendices, footnotes, tables and bibliography.  The Thesis should embody the result of the candidate’s advanced study and research.

6.   Students are required to submit their thesis prior to the end of the period of registered study. Two copies of the thesis should be submitted to Student Services or equivalent (in a form prescribed by the University), who will forward the thesis to the Examiners. The thesis should not, whether in the same or a different form, have been submitted to this or any other University for the award of any degree.

7.   The thesis must be the result of the student’s own work. The requirement does not preclude a student obtaining limited assistance with proof-reading and with the routine collection and/or processing of data under guidelines and instructions clearly devised by the student. When such help is obtained it should be with the prior approval of the supervisor who must be satisfied that the spirit of the 'own work' requirement is not breached.

8.   The thesis is examined by both an External Examiner and an Internal Examiner appointed under the regulations governing the assessment of research degrees, who should provide independent reports on the thesis, indicating whether the thesis module has been passed; and also whether a viva voce examination is necessary. Where a viva voce examination is required, this should be conducted in line with the relevant regulations for MPhil degrees.


Outcomes of examination

Includes: award of degree; where a student obtains a fail mark or fails the thesis module; nottingham etheses service

9.   The degree is awarded where all taught modules (if any taken) and the thesis module have been passed. The pass mark for the taught modules is 50%, but marks of 40%-49% can be compensated in up to 20 credits if the overall average for the taught modules taken is 50% or over.

10.   Where a student obtains a fail mark in a taught module that is not compensated, or fails the thesis module, the student has one further opportunity to pass those modules. All reassessments must be completed within one year of the end of the student's period of registered study.

11.   The qualification awarded to the student will include the subject of study undertaken as notified to the student at the time of admission.

12.   Successful candidates will be eligible to graduate once their thesis has been uploaded to the University’s etheses service and approved by the Internal Examiner or, in cases where there are two external examiners, the lead External Examiner.

Nottingham eTheses service


Exceptional regulations applied in response to Covid-19   Flag of United Kingdom   Flag of China   Flag of Malaysia

Please be aware that the following Exceptional Regulations were developed and applied during academic year 2019/20 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These records are campus specific and should be read in conjunction with all other content on this page.

The active application of these arrangements then ceased at the beginning of academic year 2020/21. Any outcomes from their application during academic year 2019/20 will, however, continue to be honoured and used in all decisions regarding those affected.

For more information about the Exceptional Regulations as a whole, please consult the following:

Exceptional Regulations: Covid-19 - 2019/20 - 2020/21

If you have any problems or queries relating to this page, please contact:

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Student Services

This content was last modified on 06 April 2022

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