Regulations for Professional and Practice-based Master’s Degrees by Examination and Thesis or Portfolio [MProf]

These regulations govern the award of Master’s Degrees in professional practice (Professional Master’s – generically MProf – or a specifically named award) at Aberystwyth University. Professional and Practice-based Master’s will be awarded in recognition of the successful completion of an approved taught programme of study, together with successful completion of a work-based research project.

Research projects in Professional Master’s degrees are normally located within the candidate's profession or practice. In practice-based or practitioner Master’s, the candidate's output involves practice-related materials. For example, in the performing arts, the output involves a written component, which complements the practice-based element and includes both reflection and context, and one or more other artefacts, such as a novel (for creative writing), a portfolio of work (for art and design), or one or more performance pieces (for theatre studies, dance or music).

Professional Master’s are rooted in an academic discipline as well as in a profession (education, law and so on). Candidates whose research arises out of practice alone, who are not working in an academically related professional field and who spend most of their time learning in their work environment rather than with the higher education provider would be more likely to complete a practice-based Master’s. In both practice-based and Professional Master’s settings, the candidate's research may result directly in organisational or policy-related change.

The degree is intended to enable qualified professionals to engage in high level Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and to study at Master’s level while remaining in employment and closely associated with their profession/workplace.

The MProf may be a stand-alone qualification or an exit point within a Professional Doctorate programme. In the latter case, the MProf would constitute Part One of a DProf programme.

Such degrees will be awarded to students who have demonstrated:

  • a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their area of professional practice
  • a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship
  • originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline or professional practice or bring about professional or organisational change in the student’s workplace/profession;
  • conceptual understanding that enables the student to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline and/or to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

  • deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level
  • continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level.

 And holders will have:

 the qualities and transferable skills necessary for entry into, or continuing professional development within, a particular professions or employment setting, including:

  • the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility
  • decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations
  • the ability to learn independently

 Professional Master’s are assessed through completion of taught modules and of research project work which will demonstrate the extent to which the candidate understands current techniques in the subject, for example through demonstrating engagement with, and use of, research methods and how they inform or bring about change in professional practice.

On completion of an MProf, graduates will have attained Level 7, as defined by the QAA’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies October 2014.



1. Candidates must be in relevant employment or engaged in relevant professional practice. To be admitted, they must EITHER hold one of the following prior to commencement:

(a) an initial degree of the University;

(b) an initial degree awarded by another approved degree awarding body;

(c) a non-graduate qualification or successful completion of postgraduate level modules which the University has deemed to be of a satisfactory standard for the purpose of postgraduate admission.

Or they may be admitted on the basis of age and relevant experience as evidenced by publications, reports or a portfolio of other appropriate evidence.

2. Irrespective of a candidate's qualifications, the University must satisfy itself that a candidate is of the required academic standard to complete the scheme of study.

3. A prospective candidate who already holds a doctoral degree shall show that the Master’s Degree scheme to be pursued is in a different field of study from that for which the doctoral degree was awarded.

4. All candidates must register as students of the University at the commencement of the programme and pay the appropriate tuition fees.

Scheme Structure and Awards

5. Candidates shall follow a modular scheme of study, commencing at the appropriate starting date approved for the scheme.

6. Candidates may qualify for the award of a Modular Professional Master’s Degree upon successful completion of 180 credits at CQFW Level 7 (former HE Level M) in an approved modular scheme of study provided either on a full-time, part-time or distance learning basis. Whatever the mode of delivery, the academic content of schemes shall be appropriate to Level 7 study and the assessment must include a work-based research project or approved equivalent.

7. Candidates admitted to a Modular Professional Master’s Degree scheme may not qualify for intermediate awards of the University.

8. The taught modules shall consist of up to 120 credits approved by the University. The project element, or approved equivalent, will be worth at least 60 credits.

Credit Transfer

9. The maximum number of credits which may be transferred into schemes of study shall not exceed 60. The remaining credits to be pursued must be at CQFW Level 7 (former HE Level M).  Transferable credit may not be attributed to the project or approved equivalent of a scheme. Within these limits the University may, at its discretion, deem the performance of a student in any relevant prior experiential learning to count towards the requirements for the award of a modular Master’s Degree.


10. Modules shall be assessed individually, according to the approved methods of assessment.

11.  The project shall be presented in a dissertation or equivalent work not exceeding 15,000 words.

12. Students must pass at least 160 credits and obtain an overall rounded weighted average mark of 50% to qualify for the award of a Master’s degree and/or for progression to Part Two of a DProf.

13. The modular pass-mark shall be 50%. Examining Boards will award overall grades according to the following scale:

                              70% and over   :       Distinction level

                              60 - 69%            :       Merit level

                              50 - 59%            :       Pass

                              0 - 49%              :        Fail


14. In order to gain a Master’s Degree with Distinction, candidates shall achieve an overall rounded weighted average of not less than 70%. Candidates who do not meet the requirements for a Distinction but who achieve an overall rounded average of 60% or above shall gain a Master's degree with Merit. These requirements are set out in the Examination Conventions for taught postgraduate schemes. 

15. Taught modules shall be completed according to the approved study scheme structure. The full degree scheme, including submission of the dissertation in the prescribed form, shall be completed within the following periods from the date of the initial registration:

Full-time candidates:  not more than 1 year

NB for full-time candidates, results will be presented to an Examining Board after the final one year deadline for consideration of the whole cohort, even if individual students submit the dissertation early.

Part-time candidates: not more than 3 years

16. To allow for retrieval of failure and periods of temporary withdrawal, the maximum time period for completion of the award shall be the registration period plus two years, therefore:

Full-time candidates: not more than 3 years

Full-time candidates (2 year Master’s): not more than 4 years

Part-time candidates: not more than 5 years

Distance Learning candidates: not more than 7 years

Extensions to these time limits based on exceptional special circumstances may be granted by the Pro Vice-Chancellor on submission of a request supported by evidence of the special circumstances and a strong and reasoned case showing that completion can reasonably be expected within a further 12 month period.

Failure and Retrieval

17. Candidates may not re-sit any module or unit of assessment for which a pass-mark has been attained previously.

18. Candidates who obtain less than 50% in a module may be re-examined in that module on two subsequent occasions within the overall time-limit prescribed for the scheme. Candidates who are re-examined in a module shall be eligible for the bare pass-mark only (i.e. 50%). Where special circumstances are accepted to have affected performance, additional resits for the full mark may be permitted. Further information on resit policy is contained within the Examination Conventions for taught postgraduate study schemes.

Project Formats and Retrieval of Failure

19. The research project may take the form of a project/dissertation but may also be approved in other formats which satisfy the degree scheme learning outcomes in the view of the Scheme Approval Panel. For example, schemes in Creative and Performing Arts may entail an artefact, score, portfolio of original works, performance or exhibition, accompanied by a written commentary placing it in its academic context together with any other items which may be required (e.g. a catalogue or audio or visual recording).

References in the following paragraphs to ‘dissertation’ should be taken to include any equivalent forms of submission/assessment detailed in this paragraph.

20. Candidates are at liberty to publish the whole or part of the work produced during the candidate’s period of registration at the University prior to its submission as a whole, or as part of a dissertation, provided that in the published work it is nowhere stated that it is in consideration for a higher degree. Such published work may later be incorporated in the dissertation submitted for examination.

21. Candidates may not amend, add to or delete from the dissertation after it has been submitted for examination.

22. Every candidate in submitting a dissertation shall state to what extent it is the result of their independent work or investigation, and shall indicate any portions for which they are indebted to other sources.  Explicit references should be given, and a full bibliography shall be appended to the work.

23. Every candidate in submitting a dissertation shall certify that it has not already been accepted in substance for any academic award and is not being concurrently submitted in candidature for any such award.

24. If the dissertation is not submitted within the registration period (see Regulation 17 above) the dissertation will be deemed to have failed. Two further resit opportunities will be permitted, capped at 50%, unless there is evidence of special circumstances. Further information on resit policy is contained within the Examination Conventions for taught postgraduate study schemes.

25. If a dissertation is failed by the examiners or is deemed to have failed by non-submission, the candidate may re-present it on two further occasions.. The re-submission deadline shall be communicated to the candidate with the result and will require submission in time for presentation of the re-sit mark at the Examining Board 12 months after the initial result was confirmed.  A fee shall be payable for the examination of such a re-presented dissertation.