A student examines a growing plant

Masters by Research


A Masters by Research degree is for those who would enjoy the chance to carry out an in-depth research project. This can offer an excellent grounding for continuing to PhD study and provide preparation for research careers in the public and private sectors.

Enrolling for a Masters by Research allows you to immerse yourself in a subject and benefit from the kind of specific skills training you need to be able to investigate it. You will be expected to conduct innovative, original research and then to write up a thesis and be examined by a viva, with a view to submitting the thesis for publication.

If you are interested in pursuing this route, we will work with you to help design the most appropriate research project for you, whether in the natural or social sciences, making sure that you get the very most out of all the Graduate School has to offer in that area.

As a Masters by Research student, you may also be co-supervised with an external research, policy or business partner.

How to Apply

To begin the process you will need to find a Masters by Research Supervisor whose research interests align with your own. You can find lists of academics in our Research Groups. You will need to contact them, with an outline of your research interests and a copy of your CV, to discuss your application.

As part of your discussions with potential supervisors and the application process we will require a research proposal on the area(s) you are interested in joining us to study. This will be used to help us determine who will be the most suitable potential academic supervisor(s) for your research.

It is recommended that a research proposal includes the following:

  • a section that defines and characterises your selected research area
  • a section that briefly surveys and sums up the state of the research in this area
  • a section that identifies deficiencies in the research area which you would like to address in your Masters by Research
  • a section that outlines some possible research directions that you might pursue
  • a section detailing the methods you envisage using in your studies
  • who within LEC appears best qualified to supervise you
  • a list of references that you cite in the above sections

See here for more information on writing a research proposal. Please note that your proposal is open to negotiation with the supervisor(s) and may change before and during your Masters by Research.

To submit an application, simply create an account on the My Applications website and then select 'Create a new application' from your homepage once you are logged-in.

Using your account on the My Applications website, you are able to submit applications for the programme(s), which you wish to study, upload supporting documentation and provide us with information about referees. You may apply for all our postgraduate programmes using this method. The Masters by Research programmes available in LEC are MSc by Research in Ecology, Environmental Science or Plant Sciences.

Current Lancaster Students

If you are a current Lancaster student, or you have recently graduated from Lancaster, we can reduce the amount of information that you will need to provide as part of your application. You will need to provide only one reference and will not need to supply your Lancaster degree transcript. We will also pre-fill your personal details, ready for you to check.

If you use the My Applications website then you will be advised which documentation you need to upload or send to us. We can automatically contact your referees once you have submitted your application if you ask us to.

The supporting documentation screen will provide you with a list of required documents. These will usually include:

  • a personal statement to help us understand why you wish to study your chosen degree
  • a CV
  • a research proposal with named potential supervisors
  • degree certificates and transcripts of previous higher education (college/university) degrees or other courses that you have completed/are currently studying
  • for transcripts in languages other than English, a certified English translation will be required
  • two references
  • copies of English language test results, if English is not your first language. Lancaster University accepts these English language tests

Applications will be considered once complete. As part of the application process, applicants will require an interview with the potential supervisors, which will be either in person or by phone/skype.

You can apply at any time of the year for Masters by Research study, but you have to start at one of the predefined start dates of October, January or April. In some circumstances, a July start date will be considered. If you are applying for funding, are applying from overseas or require on-campus accommodation, we recommend that you apply as early as possible.

Information on the funding available, tuition fees and living costs in Lancaster is at Postgraduate Fees and Funding.

Study Areas

Research Groups

In each of the research groups, you can find a list of academics which may match your area of interest.