The term ‘MPhil’ means Master of Philosophy and the qualification is a purely research-based Masters degree. While more common Masters like the MA and MSc involve a range of taught units and assessments, as well as a dissertation, the MPhil instead consists of an extended dissertation (usually around 60,000 words). This dissertation is then defended by the student at a viva voce exam.
Despite the name, you can do an MPhil in any subject – not just Philosophy! An MPhil is generally considered the most advanced Masters degree you can take, while a PhD is the highest academic qualification on offer.
There are two types of MPhil:
- Standalone qualifications
- Those that are part of a PhD programme
A standalone MPhil takes two years to complete but if you’re doing an MPhil within a PhD, you’ll usually ‘upgrade’ to a PhD with an oral examination at the end of your first year.
For integrated MPhil/PhD programmes, you won’t have to work on a specific MPhil dissertation but will instead begin work on what will eventually become your PhD thesis.
For more information on how MPhils work, check out our full guide to the MPhil on our sister site FindAMasters. This page will primarily focuses on the differences between a PhD and an MPhil, and how to choose which one to do.