Master of Arts (Scotland)

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For other uses, see Master of Arts (disambiguation).

The degree of Master of Arts in Scotland refers to an undergraduate academic degree (equivalent to an English BA) in the arts, liberal arts, humanities or social sciences awarded by one of the ancient universities of Scotland – the University of St Andrews, the University of Glasgow, the University of Aberdeen, the University of Edinburgh and also by the University of Dundee (as a result of its history as a constituent college of the University of St Andrews). Heriot-Watt University also offers undergraduate MA programmes in certain subjects. MAs are also awarded, with several material differences, by the other ancient universities in the British Isles: Namely Oxford and Cambridge (see: Master of Arts) in England. The Master of Arts in Scotland is not to be confused with a Master of Arts from anywhere else in the British Isles or Europe. It is not a Masters degree but the equivalent to a Bachelor of Arts degree in the countries named above. The degree can either be completed as a Master of Arts with Honours in four years, or as a Master of Arts "ordinary" or "designated" degree (without honours) in three years. For the postgraduate degree referred to in other places as "Master of Arts", Scottish universities usually award the degree of Master of Letters (MLitt). At non-ancient universities in Scotland (e.g. University of Strathclyde, The Robert Gordon University, University of the Highlands and Islands, etc.), arts degrees are awarded as Bachelor of Arts (BA).

Subjects awarded[edit]

The MA is usually awarded only in fine art, the liberal arts, humanities, social sciences and theology at these universities. For science, the degree of Bachelor of Science (BSc) is awarded for four years of study in the field of science and the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) is the four year degree in law. Both of these area can be awarded with honours (four years) or as ordinary or designated degrees (three years).

Degrees in some disciplines lead to the award of either an MA or BSc. A prominent example is psychology. For example, students studying psychology or management at the University of St Andrews or the University of Dundee may be awarded an MA or a BSc depending on whether they are a member of the Faculty of Arts or the Faculty of Sciences (respectively). At the University of Aberdeen, students studying psychology are awarded an MA or a BSc depending on which they register for; while the psychology content is identical for both, the difference lies in the non-psychology constituent courses taken in first and second years. Those on MA programmes study psychology alongside the liberal arts (e.g. languages) or social sciences, while those on BSc programmes study other pure sciences such as biology.

The Universities of Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh also offer the degree of Bachelor of Divinity (BD) as a four-year course. The Bachelor of Divinity is offered at St Mary's College, University of St Andrews, but as a postgraduate degree for a student who has already completed a Master of Arts - the undergraduate degree in divinity/theology is designated Master of Theology (MTheol)).

Newer undergraduate degrees are either undergraduate Bachelors or undergraduate Masters in the advanced undergraduate degree scheme as above.