Guide to Masters study

Find out how you'll learn and be assessed as part of your Masters degree, as well as how to get extra support with your study or English language skills.

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Masters Week

Monday 10 June - Friday 14 June 2024

Join us for Masters Week, a week-long series of 30 minute live online sessions covering the essentials of Masters study.

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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.

You'll study the subject of your first degree at an advanced level, or expand your study by taking a different subject.

Masters degree duration

A Masters is usually one year if you study full time, or two years if you study part time.

Some Masters are only available for full- or part-time study.

Help with English language and academic skills

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

Pre-sessional English for academic purposes course

This course is for you if you:

  • already meet the academic requirements for your 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 Department of Language Studies.

It runs full time (21 hours per week), with entry in September, January, April, June and July.

When you start depends on your English level and the English language entry requirement for your Masters.

As long as you pass the course, you will:

  • not need to retake IELTS
  • receive an unconditional offer of a place on one of our Masters degrees.

Pre-Masters Programmes

Pre-Masters Programmes are preparation courses for international students, provided by the University of Sussex International Study Centre. These courses are for you if you:

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

The Pre-Masters Programmes are based on the Sussex campus and taught by Study Group, specialists in university preparation for international students. Students can choose from either the Pre-Masters Programme in Business, Media and Social Sciences, or the Pre-Masters Programme in Science and Engineering.

You can start in September, January and May, depending on your English language level. If you need to improve your English to meet your Masters entry requirements, you can study an English for Pre-Masters course, starting in September and June.

Upon successful completion, you can receive an unconditional offer for a place on one of our Masters degrees at Sussex.

Masters degree structure

Our academic year starts in September, and includes the autumn, spring and summer terms.

You study modules in each term. A module may include a mix of lecture, seminars or lab sessions, and 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 study them. Others are options, which means you can choose the topics that interest you most.

You'll spend around 50% to 70% of your time on your modules, and the rest of your time on your supervised dissertation or project.

If you are an international student, our English Language for Academic Study service can provide support throughout your studies.


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

Each module carries a multiple of 15 credits (15, 30, 45, 60 or 90), which you get when you successfully pass your assessments.

Teaching methods

Our teaching methods include:

  • lectures: you're taught with a group of students. You’ll build on what you learn from your lectures through your independent study.
  • seminars: you discuss ideas and consider a topic in depth with your tutor and a small group of students.
  • tutorials: you ask questions, check your understanding and discuss assignments, either individually with your tutor or in a small group.
  • laboratory and practical workshops: you test concepts and methods introduced in lectures and tutorials.
  • group work: you work with other students on a project, so that you learn to work as part of a team.
  • independent study: you explore topics in more 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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