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Master of Arts (Scotland)

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Title: Master of Arts (Scotland)  
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Subject: Alexander Bain, Cambuslang clergy, Alan Johnston, Bachelor of Education, Master's degree in Europe
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Master of Arts (Scotland)

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 in England and Trinity College, Dublin, in Ireland (see: Master of Arts (Oxbridge and Dublin)). The Master of Arts degree in Scotland is thus not to be confused with that of Master of Arts from anywhere else in the British Isles or Europe. It is not a postgraduate Master's 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

At these ancient Scottish universities, the degree of Master of Arts (MA) is usually awarded only in the liberal arts, the humanities, the fine arts, the social sciences and theology. For some science subjects, the degree of Bachelor of Science (BSc) is awarded for four years of study and that of Bachelor of Laws (LLB) after a four-year course in law. Both of these can be awarded with honours after four years or as ordinary or designated degrees after three years.

Degrees in some disciplines, such as psychology, can lead either to the degree of MA or that of BSc. For example, those studying psychology or management at the University of St Andrews or the University of Dundee may graduate MA or 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 of the two they register for; while the psychology content is identical for both, the difference lies in the non-psychology constituent courses taken in the first and second years. Those on MA programmes study psychology alongside the liberal arts (such as languages) or social sciences, while those on BSc programmes study 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. This degree is offered at St Mary's College, St Andrews, but as a postgraduate degree for a graduate who is already a Master of Arts, while the undergraduate degree in divinity (theology) is designated Master of Theology (MTheol)).

Newer undergraduate courses lead either to a Bachelor's degree or to a Master's degree in the advanced undergraduate degree scheme as above.


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