If you’re considering postgraduate study, you’ve probably already discovered the wide range of postgraduate qualifications that you can pursue. MSc, PGCert, MRes, MPhil – there’s a lot of abbreviations, and TPG and PGR are another two that you should be aware of. Taught Postgraduate (TPG) and Postgraduate Research (PGR) degrees are the two pathways at the postgraduate level. 

Your decision to enrol on a taught programme or undertake research will be influenced by your career aspirations, research interests, time commitments and financial considerations.

We’ve put together some information outlining the key differences between taught and research postgraduate degrees at Edinburgh Napier to help you plan for your future.

Taught Postgraduate (TPG)

A taught programme will allow you to develop your expertise in your subject of interest through a set curriculum of taught modules. When researching your course options, be sure to review the course modules in detail to understand what you will learn on the course. Often programmes will be made up of mandatory and optional modules, allowing you to specialise further in your degree. Just like at undergraduate level, you will be taught by experienced academics through lectures and tutorials. There will be lots of independent study and you will be expected to undertake coursework, assignments and exams. Specific coursework and assessments will vary depending on the degree, and some programmes will include field work and work placements.   

Most taught postgraduate programmes take just one-year to complete full-time, with part-time and online programmes taking longer to complete.  

A taught postgraduate degree will suit you if you are looking to gain practical skills and knowledge to advance in your career.  

Postgraduate Research (PGR) 

Research degrees will provide training in research and allow you to develop advanced skills and expertise in a specific area of interest. You will be able to explore your subject of interest in-depth through conducting an independent research study, supervised and guided by our world-class academics.  

When thinking about a research degree, your mind might go straight to a PhD. This type of research programme can take three years to complete full-time, but there are shorter research degrees that you can undertake which take one year to complete. These are a MRes and a MPhil, which can bridge the gap between undergraduate and PhD level study. Both options will provide you with a significant grounding in research methods and skills that will equip you for a successful career.  

A research postgraduate degree will suit you if you’re passionate about research and want to make an original contribution to your field, or get started in a career in academia.  

How to apply for a postgraduate degree

The application process is slightly different for taught and research degrees.

A taught postgraduate degree can be applied for online through our application portal. You will need to include a personal statement, academic certificate and transcript, references and a CV. If you are a current ENU undergraduate student or an ENU alumni you can benefit from a fast-track application that removes some of these requirements.

Learn more about the application process for taught postgraduate degrees.

For a research degree, you can apply for one of our advertised degrees or you can submit your own research idea. Whichever research degree you wish to apply for, you will need to develop a research proposal which is a critical part of the application. You will also need to provide two references, and it is good practice to contact the supervisor too.  

Learn more about the application process for research degrees.

Explore postgraduate courses