A Master’s by coursework is a degree where the course consists primarily of a series of compulsory and elective subjects. It usually involves attendance at lectures, tutorials or laboratory classes, depending on the course and university. A Master’s by coursework may also contain a minor thesis or research subject in one semester.
A Master’s by research is awarded following the completion of a major thesis, involving original research, under the supervision of a senior academic (called a supervisor). Normally there are no lectures or classes, although some Master’s by research degrees may also include one or two compulsory subjects.