Master of Philosophy MPhil - University of Sunderland

Course overview

With an MPhil, unlike a taught degree, you decide what areas you want to study, and which questions you want to research. You take the initiative while we support you with advice, guidance and facilities.

For many people, an MPhil is a way of testing whether postgraduate research suits them. If it does, you can often convert your MPhil programme into a PhD and continue your research.

Compared to a PhD, an MPhil requires fewer years of study – as few as two years compared to at least three years for a PhD. The demands for originality are also less than those required for a PhD. Postgraduate research course page images 2

During your MPhil, we will train you in rigorous research methodologies that are transferable to many different careers. Our Postgraduate Research Development programme allows you to learn alongside other candidates, building up a network of potential collaborators in research projects.

There is no doubt that research degrees require persistence and dedication. At the same time, they are excellent opportunities to develop your critical skills and high-level thinking. Most important of all, they allow you to focus on what you find interesting and to follow your personal research interests.

An MPhil thesis is typically 20,000-40,000 words while a PhD thesis is up to 80,0000 words, depending on the subject area.

You have an option to study this programme at our Sunderland campus or via distance learning.

Entry requirements

The normal entry requirement for a research degree is a UK honours degree (first or upper second class) or a UK Masters degree or a qualification which is regarded as equivalent.

We will consider candidates with other qualifications, looking at evidence of academic ability such as published work.

If English is not your first language, you will need a British Council International English Language Testing System (IELTS) overall score of 6.5, with at least 6.0 in each component: reading, writing, listening and speaking (or equivalent).

Research proposal

We ask applicants to write a research proposal which should be 2-3 pages in length and which should specify:

  • Aims of your research
  • Rationale for the research question(s)
  • Proposed methodology and techniques for analysis
  • Provisional time plan for the research

Fees & finance

Annual fees

We charge annual fees while you are studying and researching for your degree. These costs vary depending on whether you are a candidate from the UK/EU or from a country outside the EU. If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or International candidate, please see the International section of this website.

Fees for UK/EU candidates

  • On-campus full-time: £4,330 per year
  • On-campus part-time: £2,600 per year
  • Distance learning full-time: £2,600 per year
  • Distance learning part-time: £2,600 per year
  • Write up fee: £2,600

Fees for International candidates

  • On-campus full-time: £12,000 per year
  • On-campus part-time: £7,430 per year

Please note that this part-time course is not available to international students who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

  • Distance learning full-time: £7,430 per year
  • Distance learning part-time: £7,430 per year
  • Write up fee: £7,430

Write up fee

When you have completed your study and research you will spend additional time writing up your thesis. The write up fee will be charged during this period.

International scholarship

All full-time self-funding international candidates at postgraduate level are awarded a £1,500 scholarship per year of study. You do not have to apply for this scholarship; it is automatically applied to reduce the annual fees specified above.

For more information please contact the Graduate Research Support team:

Elisabeth Knox
Tel: +44 (0)191 515 2073

Lynne Fenwick 
Tel: +44 (0)191 515 2272


Employment & careers

It is common for an MPhil to be the initial stage of a linked MPhil/PhD programme. You can usually continue to PhD level if your research demonstrates potential for a novel contribution to knowledge. If you decide that further research is for you, then this can be an excellent option.

The MPhil is also a valuable qualification for employment in a wide range of areas. By holding a postgraduate research degree you will stand out from the mass of graduates who have a first degree. In 2011/12 in the UK, for every 100 people who gained a first degree, only 6 people gained a postgraduate research qualification.  

Given the scarcity value of postgraduate research degrees, it is no surprise that more people are undertaking them in order to gain an advantage in their future careers. The number of people who completed such degrees rose by nearly a quarter in the four years up to 2011/12, according to the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

HESA has looked at the salary increases of people who gained different levels of qualifications. Among those who gained a first degree in 2006/7, 2.3 per cent were earning over £50,000 within four years. But among those with postgraduate degrees, that percentage was nearly five times higher, at 11.3 per cent.

Of course these figures are based on averages. But it is safe to say that the demanding nature of postgraduate research degrees allows you to develop your high-level thinking and critical skills – and to demonstrate these skills to future employers in the sector of your choice.


Supervisory team

Your supervisory team will keep in regular and frequent contact with you, particularly your Director of Studies (first supervisor). Contact will be via face-to-face meetings as well as email, telephone and Skype. In addition there is an Annual Monitoring Review meeting. This provides a formal opportunity for an in-depth review of your progress and your work plan for the months ahead.

Support staff

Graduate Research support staff will be available to help with admission to the programme and administrative processes. Each Faculty also has a Research Student Manager who will provide a further point of contact for any queries about developing research proposals, funding, facilities and training.

Postgraduate Research Development Programme (PGR)

We provide high-intensity workshops to train you in transferable research skills that will be valuable both during and after your research degree. The workshops also allow you to form a network of peers. This could prove useful in future collaborative research projects.

You will be eligible to attend training courses for postgraduate research students at Newcastle University, Northumbria University and Teesside University. This is through the North East Collaboration Group for Postgraduate Researcher Development.


The University offers modern, purpose-built accommodation within 1.5 miles of the city centre. All postgraduate students are guaranteed a single study-bedroom in one of our accommodation centres. All-male and all-female flats can be made available, depending on application date and availability. Sunderland is one of the best value places in the UK to be a student.

Extracurricular activities

The University supports student-led initiatives that enhance the extracurricular activities available to you. Some of these are related to particular subjects while others allow you to pursue interests and social activities. It’s all part of the vibrant and life-changing atmosphere at the University of Sunderland.


"The MPhil was a way for me to link research in the laboratory with caring for patients at the bedside."

Muhammed Khurram MPhil

Muhammed Khurram

Member of a transplant team at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital

Muhammed Khurram studied for a part-time MPhil while also serving as a member of a transplant team based in Newcastle's Freeman Hospital. He is passionate about making a difference to patients by applying the latest research. He says: "It is an amazing feeling to contribute something new to life-saving care."

"The part-time MPhil took three years, with the option to convert to a PhD with additional part-time study."

Muhammed looked all over the UK to find the right university. He says: "I was ready to go to whatever institution was the best for my type of research. Sunderland ticked all the right boxes and I'm very pleased to have moved hundreds of miles to be here in the North East."

Apply for this course

Apply online for 1st February 2017 (full-time)

Apply online for 1st February 2017 (part-time)

International application deadlines - February intake:

The closing date for applications is 1st December 2016. 

Contact Sunderland

Graduate Research Support team:

Elisabeth Knox
Tel: +44 (0)191 515 2073

Lynne Fenwick 
Tel: +44 (0)191 515 2272


The details

Course Name Master of Philosophy
Classification MPhil
Course Mode Full-time/Part-time
Course Level Postgraduate research
Duration 2 - 4 years
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 1 February 2017
UK/EU Fee £See entry requirements page
Intl Fee £See entry requirements page

Entry requirements

A Masters degree or an honours degree with at least a 2:1 classification

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