Degree of Master of Letters


The Degree of Master of Letters is governed by Resolution No. 576 of the University Court, the provisions of which are as follows:

1.   The Degree of Master of Letters (MLitt) may be awarded by the Senate of the University of Glasgow in the Colleges of Arts and Social Sciences.

2.   a)   A candidate for the Degree may undertake research in accordance with the provisions of Schedule A[1] as set out in the Regulations. Such research shall be prosecuted in the University of Glasgow or in another institution recognised for the purpose.

b)   Colleges and Graduate Schools may allow the candidate’s research to be conducted in an institution external to the University of Glasgow. The choice of such an institution will be determined ad hoc and only where there exists clear alignment of the candidate’s proposed research with the aims and objectives of the institution proposed, and where the institution can demonstrate ability to provide an appropriate level of supervision of the candidate. A full-time member of staff of a recognised institution may be nominated to Senate either as a supervisor or as an internal examiner although such an individual may not be nominated as an examiner if they have previously supervised the candidate's work. In cases where an employee of the institution acts as supervisor or internal examiner, a member of staff from an appropriate subject area in the University will also be appointed.

3.   Before being admitted, each candidate for the Degree must have:

a)   obtained a degree in any institution of higher education specially recognised for this purpose by the University Court on the recommendation of the Senate, provided always that a diploma or a certificate recognised in like manner as equivalent to a degree may be accepted in place of a degree; and,

b)   satisfied the Senate of their fitness to undertake advanced study.

4.   A candidate who is a full-time student shall follow a programme of research in the University or another institution recognised for the purpose for not less than two years.

The period of study for a candidate who is a part-time student shall be at least one year longer than that prescribed for full-time students. 

The College may on special cause shown:

a)   extend the prescribed period of study for any full-time candidate by not more than one year; or,

b)   reduce the prescribed period of study by up to one year.

Full-time candidates for the Degree are normally required to attend classes in the University and to be avail­able in the relevant School(s) during the summer vacation for both work on, and supervision of, the dissertation.

5.   A member of the teaching staff of the University, or a person who holds an appointment as Research Assistant or Research Fellow of the University of Glasgow and is paid through the Finance Office or directly by a grant-aiding body approved by the University Court, may offer themself for the Degree of Master of Letters if they have prosecuted a course of research on a part-time basis for a period of not less than two years.

6.   Each candidate for the Degree by research shall submit a thesis on a subject falling within their special study. The candidate may also be required to undergo oral and/or practical examination.

7.   The examiners for the Degree shall be such professors and lecturers in the University as the Senate shall designate and such additional examiners as the University Court, on the recommendation of the Senate shall appoint. The College shall designate a professor or lecturer in the University to supervise the study of each candidate for the Degree. The supervisor shall report on the progress of the candidate at appropriate intervals as determined by the College.

8.   The Degree shall in no case be conferred on persons who have not satisfied the requirements of this Resolution, and shall not be conferred as an Honorary Degree except in the conditions contained in Ordinance of the University Court No. 109, Glasgow No. 28.


Schedule A - Master of Letters by Research

1.   Admission to study for the Degree will normally be granted only from the beginning of the academic year.

2.   a)   The following institution is recognised for the purpose of Section 1 of the Resolution:

The Glasgow School of Art.

b)   On the recommendation of the College concerned, and of the Senate, the University Court may recognise, in the case of individual candidates, other institutions for the purpose of Section 2 of the Resolution, where satisfactory arrangements can be made for the supervision of a can­didate.

c)   A full-time member of staff of a recognised institution may be nominated to Senate as a supervisor or as an internal examiner or a member of a Special Committee. In such cases, a member of staff from an appropriate subject area in the University shall be appointed also.

3.   The time limit for submission of theses is two years from first registration for full-time students and three years from first registration for part-time students. Students who have reached the time limit without submitting a thesis may apply annually to the Higher Degrees Committee or equivalent for an extension of one year, giving reasons for the delay and/or evidence of progress. Any such submissions must be supported by the supervisor or Head of School. On completion of the research the candidate shall present a thesis embodying the results of the work for examination for the Degree:

a)  in the College of Arts normally of 40,000-70,000 words in length; and

b)  in the College of Social Sciences normally of 30,000-40,000 words in length.

4.   A candidate must submit the thesis electronically as directed by the Graduate School and this must conform to University Library specifications published at: https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/research/enlighten/theses/formattingyourthesis/. The thesis must include a summary (250-750 words) which must be an adequate and informative abstract of the work.

In Music, candidates may present themselves in Music­ology, Musical Composition or Sonic Arts. In Musical Composition the candidate shall present a portfolio of composed music or work of equivalent creative depth or complexity comprising at least two pieces with a combined duration of at least 80 minutes. The portfolio may comprise instrumental, vocal or electroacoustic works or any combination thereof. It should include a written commentary of 5,000-7,000 words on the works contained. In Sonic Arts the candidate shall present a thesis of 20,000-40,000 words and project (weighted together: 100%). The project may be presented as a portfolio exemplifying and illustrating the thesis. This might involve a software/hardware project with details of its design and specification, and a description of its implementation. A research project would outline the design of experiments and present documen­tation and interpretation of the results. The thesis and the project taken shall be deemed to constitute a ‘thesis which shall embody the results of the candidate’s special study or research’ as required under Section 2 of the Resolution.

5.   Students must also comply with the detailed requirements for research degrees published by the appropriate Graduate School.

6.   a)   In the College of Social Sciences the thesis must be written in English and an oral defence may be required. 

b)   In the College of Arts the thesis must normally be written and defended in English. Exceptionally, however, at the time of application the College Higher Degrees Committee (or equivalent) may approve arrangements whereby the thesis may be written and defended in a language other than English, such as Gaelic. Approval will normally be given only where the use of a language other than English is deemed appropriate by the relevant School and the Higher Degrees Committee and where the School and the Higher Degrees Committee are satisfied that appropriate arrangements can be made for supervision and examination.

7.   The normal standard of admission will be that of First or upper Second Class Honours but another qualification, being a qualification approved by the University Court as provided in §3 of the Resolution may be accepted by the College as being suitable for the programme of study which it is proposed that the applicant should follow.

8.   a)   Candidates on a full-time basis must be available for regular supervision in the University throughout the period of study, except when given permission to prosecute research elsewhere in accordance with §2.

b)   Candidates on a part-time basis must attend the University of Glasgow for a minimum total period prescribed by the College Graduate School and must be available for regular supervision throughout their period of study unless given permission otherwise. Colleges may also prescribe a minimum number of meetings for which candidates must be available to meet their Supervisor.

9.   If the Examiners consider that the thesis, portfolio, or project work has not achieved the standard required for the award of the Degree, the candidate may be permitted to revise the thesis, portfolio or project and resubmit it, on one occasion only, under such conditions as the Examiners may prescribe in each particular case. Normally, resubmission should be no later than six months after the date of the meeting of the Board of Examiners.

10.   If approved for the Degree, one hard-bound copy of the thesis and one electronic copy shall be deposited with the University Library. Where agreed by the Graduate School and the Library, hard bound submission may be waived in favour of solely electronic submission. Any hard copy should normally be produced to the standard defined in BS4821:1990 available from the Library, and the electronic copy must conform to University Library specifications published at https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/research/enlighten/theses/formattingyourthesis/. It is the University's normal practice to make any bound copy available for consultation in the Library, and to permit computer download of the electronic copy through its repository service, Enlighten. Such access may, however, be restricted under provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 or the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

[1] Schedule B, pertaining to the award of the Degree following a prescribed course of study, has been deleted from the Regulations.