Guide to Masters study

Learn to think independently, to question assumptions and get ready to explore the world around you. At Sussex, the latest research – on topics ranging from corruption to dark energy – informs our teaching.

What is a Masters degree?

Masters degrees are taught postgraduate courses, for example:

  • MBA – Masters in Business Administration
  • MA – Master of Arts
  • MSc – Master of Science
  • MRes – Master of Research
  • LLM – Master of Laws
  • PGDip – Postgraduate Diploma
  • PGCert – Postgraduate Certificate
  • PGCE – Postgraduate Certificate in Education
  • GDL/CPE – Graduate Diploma in Law/Common Professional Examination.

These courses enable you to study the subject of your first degree at an advanced level, or expand your study by taking a different subject.

Find out more about our Masters courses

How long does a Masters degree take?

The duration of a Masters degree is usually one year if you choose to study full time or two years if you choose to study part time. Some Masters are only available for full-time or part-time study.

Can I get help to improve my English language or academic skills?

If you don’t have the qualifications to study for a Masters degree, you may be interested in our English language and academic preparation:

Pre-sessional English for academic purposes

This course is for you if you:

  • already meet the academic requirements for your chosen degree (except for September and January start dates)
  • need to improve your English to meet the language requirements
  • need help adjusting to the UK academic environment.

Pre-sessional English for academic purposes is based in the on-campus Sussex Centre for Language Studies. It runs full time (21 hours per week), with entry in September, January, April, June and July, depending on your level of English on entry and the English language entry requirement for your Masters. As long as you pass the course, you will not need to retake IELTS and will receive an unconditional offer of a place on one of our Masters degrees.


This course is for you if you:

  • need to enhance your academic and study skills
  • require additional English-language training
  • need help adjusting to the UK academic environment
  • want to refresh your knowledge in your academic subject area.

Pre-Masters are based on the Sussex campus and taught by Study Group, specialists in university preparation for international students. They offer flexible start dates in September, January and May, depending on your level of English language.

If you need to improve your English to meet the entry requirements for the course, you can also take an English for Pre-Masters course, starting in September and June. As long as you pass the course and meet the required grades, you receive an unconditional offer of a place on one of our Masters degrees at Sussex.

How is a Masters degree structured?

At Sussex, the academic year starts in September. There are three terms in each academic year: autumn, spring and summer.

In each term, you’ll take modules. A module may consist, for example, of a combination of lecture, seminars or laboratory sessions. You’ll have a timetable with the modules for each week of your course.

Some modules are core, which means all students on the course take them. Others are options, which means you can choose the topics that interest you most.

About 50% to 70% of your time is spent on taught modules, with the rest of your time spent on your supervised dissertation or project.

What’s a credit?

To successfully complete a Masters course, for example, you’ll need 180 credits.

Each module carries a multiple of 15 credits (that is, 15, 30, 45, 60 or 90), which you gain when successfully passing your assessments.

Find out more about our Masters courses

Teaching methods

Here’s a quick introduction to our teaching methods:

  • Lectures enable a whole group to be taught together. You’ll be expected to build on the information you gain from your lectures through your independent study.
  • Seminars allow smaller groups of students and their tutor to discuss ideas and consider a topic in depth.
  • Tutorials give you the chance to ask questions, check your understanding and discuss assignments, either individually with your tutor or in a small group.
  • Laboratory and practical workshops provide the opportunity to test concepts and methods introduced in lectures and tutorials.
  • Group work enables you to collaborate with other students on a project, so that you learn to work as part of a team.
  • Independent study allows you to explore topics in greater depth, developing your own opinions on problems, their causes and solutions.

Find out more about how you’ll learn on your Masters course

Assessment methods

You’re assessed using methods including:

  • exams – this could include unseen, seen, oral and computer-based exams
  • coursework – this could include essays, reports, portfolios, presentations, professional logs and take-away papers
  • practical – this could include portfolios, presentations, observations and practical assessments
  • group work – this could include group presentations and group written submissions
  • written assessment – this could include essays, dissertations, reports and projects.

Find out more about assessment on your Masters course

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