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Master's Degrees

Characteristics Statement

Characteristics Statements describe the distinctive features of qualifications at particular levels within the Qualifications Frameworks. They describe the qualifications in terms of their purpose, general characteristics and generic outcomes, but do not include subject level detail.

On this page you will find the Characteristics Statement for Master’s Degrees. A short summary of the Statement is published below.

Master's degree characteristics statement

Publication date: 20 Feb 2020

About this Characteristics Statement


The master's degree is one of the most well-known and well-established postgraduate qualifications in UK higher education. It covers a wide variety of subjects, tailored around the desires and ambitions of students, and the traditions and needs of particular subjects and professions.

Master's degrees tend to be in three forms - 'research', 'specialised/advanced study' and 'professional/practice' - but they are not strict and some may combine characteristics from different categories or fall within more than one. Integrated Master’s, where bachelor’s degrees are combined with Master’s level study during the latter stages, are also available.

Professional, statutory and regulatory bodies (PSRB) often accredit master's degrees that prepare students for entry to a particular field of employment, practice or profession. These courses may enable eligibility for professional status or entry to further study or supervised practice.

The UK master's degree has been confirmed as being in alignment with European-wide guidance, in particular with the Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area (QF-EHEA), which supports the mobility of graduates within Europe.

This Characteristics Statement for Master’s Degrees considers the context and purpose of these courses, the three distinctive forms on offer, as well as the typical content, structure and delivery modes. The Statement also lists the typical titles currently in use.

View more Characteristics Statements

Visit our Characteristics Statements page to find more Statements including Higher Education in Apprenticeships, Doctoral Degrees, Master's Degrees, Foundation Degrees, and Qualifications involving more than one degree-awarding body.