In 1999 Europe started the Bologna Process, named after the university where it was proposed. The aim of this process was, and still is, to create an European Higher Education Area (EHEA) based on international cooperation and academic exchange that is attractive to students and staff from all over the world. It facilitates mobility of students, graduates and higher education staff. The EHEA prepares students for their future careers and most importantly, it offers broad access to high-quality higher education all over Europe.
Studying in Europe opens up all sorts of opportunities to see more of the world. Not just because you would have the opportunity to travel, also because since the Bologna Process it is easier to go to another country to follow a semester at a different university, without wasting time to transcribe your grades. There is a wide range of different study options, and one of them can be your dream programme.
The number of English-taught study programmes in continental Europe have increased explosively in the last couple of years. The ten mainland European countries with the most English-taught study programmes are: Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, France, Spain, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands. But higher education is often delivered in English in the rest of the European countries as well. The choice is endless, from highly ranked research universities to smaller, specialised universities.
Master's programmes in Europe may be course-based, research-based or are a mixture of the two. The primary goal of master's programmes is to provide you with the necessary knowledge and analytical skills at graduate level, so that you can carry out independent research either in a specific field or in a multidisciplinary field.
There is a variety of master's programmes to choose from: academic master's or taught master's provide advanced training in preparation for employment, research master's in which you are engaged in scientific research and teacher training master's programmes, that prepare you to teach at all levels of secondary education.
In the recent standardised European System of higher education (Bologna process), a master degree programme in Europe normally carries 90-120 ECTS credits (one ECTS credit is equivalent to 28 hours of study). The minimum requirement is at least 60 ECTS credits at master level, which can be a one- or two-year full-time postgraduate program.
The structure of a taught master's programme varies from course to course, and from institution to institution. Examples are: Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MSc), Master of Law (LLM). Other master's degrees are more specifically named (for example Master of Business Administration). Most MA or MSc courses include a significant taught element and include some form of research project and dissertation. Teaching can be delivered through seminars, classes, tutorials and supervised laboratory work (where applicable). Assessment can range from examinations, assessed projects, group work or course work. Usually a taught master's course is studied for one to two years full time. Some courses are offered as part-time or by distance learning options and may be longer.
In addition to the more familiar MA and MSc titles, there are more subject specific titles. It is however more important to focus on the content of the course itself whilst looking for a master's. Each master's has its own set amount of courses that one is required to do to fulfil the requirement.
The MRes is an advanced postgraduate degree in a specific academic discipline. The courses that are part of this master's are preliminary courses to give the student foundation, for example in research methodology. This master's is designed to prepare students for doctoral research, because its particular emphasis lies on the large dissertation in addition to fewer taught modules. This master's is of interest for students who are thinking of doing a PhD but are not sure. Research is the key focus, but it will still contain the taught element.
An MPhil is a research-only master's degree and the precursor to a PhD. Many PhD students are registered for this degree in the first 12-18 months of study and have to produce a transfer report at the end of this period to change to the registration of PhD student. For entry to the MPhil you normally have already completed a taught master's degree (or equivalent). When applying, you are expected to provide a detailed research proposal.
There is a difference between the taught master's in education, which is a professional MA or MEd and ideal for those who would like to work in both formal and informal educational settings, and certificates such as Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). The master of education is a year –long, full-time, intensive programme for students who wish to study a particular field in education. Students acquire a general theoretical background for understanding past and future field experiences, or develop skills for use in professional work in education. Master's level teacher education is delivered in partnership between universities, schools and other partners.