In most UK universities, the Master of Arts is a degree awarded by examination. At Cambridge, the MA is conferred by right on holders of the BA degree of the University and on certain other senior members and is not available as a postgraduate qualification.
In the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin, the degree of Master of Arts (MA) may be awarded to holders of the degree of Bachelor of Arts, on attaining the required number of terms' academic standing and without further examination. This practice differs from that in most other universities worldwide, for whom the degree reflects further postgraduate study or achievement, and these degrees thus are frequently referred to as the Oxbridge MA and Dublin or Trinity MA to differentiate them. The degree is considered by some to be a graduate degree and by others to be an undergraduate degree; in this regard, see the discussion below in the Purpose section.
A Master of Arts in Scotland is an undergraduate academic degree in humanities and social sciences awarded by the four ancient universities of Scotland, the University of Dundee and also Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Although the degree is named Master of Arts, it is considered generally equivalent to the BA (Bachelor of Arts) awarded elsewhere by most universities. The degree course usually lasts four years, while the Bachelor of Arts course in England usually lasts three years - the Scottish MA generally consists of two years of honours-level courses as opposed to the one year of honours studied as part of the BA, although there exist three-year MA (Pass)/(General) degrees with a different layout.
A Master of Arts is a postgraduate academic master's degree awarded by universities in a large number of countries. The degree is typically studied for in Fine Art, Humanities, Social Science or Theology and can be either fully-taught, research-based, or a combination of the two. At Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin, however, it is awarded without further examination to those who are entitled to the undergraduate degree of Bachelor of Arts after a certain number of years, and in the ancient universities of Scotland it is awarded as a first degree to undergraduates.