The essence of a PhD is research, in which knowledge is extended by exploration, investigation, and contemplation. In scientific and engineering disciplines, research often implies experimentation, but research is more than mere experiments: it means interpretation and deep understanding. To be awarded a PhD you must find new abstractions, new approaches, new algorithms, new principles, or new mechanisms.
To complete a PhD, you will present the results of your research in a formal document called a dissertation (more popularly referred to as a thesis) which should contain a substantial original contribution to knowledge or understanding . You will have to defend your work in an oral examination. A full-time PhD is normally completed in three years.
An MPhil is also a research degree which again requires the submission of a dissertation. An MPhil thesis is expected to display a good general knowledge of the field of study, and a comprehensive knowledge of some part or aspect of the field of study and a recognisable original contribution to knowledge or understanding. An MPhil degree does not usually involve an oral examination. A full-time MPhil degree is normally completed in two years.
An MRes is a 12 month full time research degree. This course is provided for Postgraduates considering a career in research either in industry or through a subsequent PhD.
For a more extensive overview, please visit the course page on the University of Nottingham's online prospectus.