All students follow a self-directed programme and are supported by an annual, residential seminar,  course days throughout the year and one-to-one advice from mentors who are Masters of Wine. The study programme does not therefore demand large periods of time away from employment. However, it does require discipline and motivation to keep up with the level of study required. After passing the stage 1 assessment and both the theory and practical parts of the examination, students then research and write a 6,000-10,000 word research paper, again with the support of a Master of Wine mentor.

When can I apply for the MW study programme?

Applications are now closed. They will be reopening in May 2020. Find out all you need to know about applying here.

What does the programme involve?

It is a guided, self-study programme which lasts a minimum of three years. Its aim is to help candidates prepare themselves for the MW exam, by outlining the syllabus, and highlighting strengths and weaknesses in a student's knowledge, understanding or experience; introducing the concept of critical analysis and evaluation; helping to hone some of the skills and techniques required in the examination, particularly the practical tasting element; and facilitating self-learning and providing regular assessment of the student's development.

Each year on the programme involves a compulsory residential seminar. These seminars, led by Masters of Wine and accompanied by internationally recognised speakers, take place from November to February in Australasia, Europe and North America.

Where can I study?

You can study anywhere in the world - wherever you are based. You will attend residential seminar, course days and the examinations in different locations across Europe, Australasia and North America. Each year, the study programme consists of a residential seminar and course days over the academic year.  

What should I expect in stage 1 of the programme?

The aim of the study programme is not to teach, but to assist students in preparing for the examination. Students are introduced to the breadth of the syllabus and encouraged to identify at the outset any potential areas of weakness in their knowledge, understanding or experience. Working with Masters of Wine, they develop the skills and techniques required in the practical part of the examination and also build their own self-study programme. A course day typically begins with a blind tasting in the morning, led by MWs, and is followed by afternoon lectures from MWs and specialist guest speakers in senior positions across the industry. During the year, you will have several essay assignments. Many students find it useful to form study groups where they can meet and practise blind tasting.

How will I be assessed?

At the end of stage 1 students sit a theory paper and a written tractical tasting paper. This is known as the stage 1 assessment (S1A). Papers are marked by a panel of MWs under the supervision of the Education Committee to assess if students are ready to advance to stage 2 of the programme.

What if English is not my first language?

The teaching is all in English. As with the stage 2 examination, you may write the theory part of the stage 1 assessment in your own language, and the IMW will arrange for the paper to be translated. The tasting portion must be written in English, although you may use a dictionary. 

What should I expect at stage 2?

This stage is designed to help with the intensive build up to the MW examination. The seminar follows a similar format to the stage 1 seminar but it has more emphasis on examination technique, question interpretation and tasting workshops, with feedback given on students’ progress.

What does the RP involve?

The RP is a 6,000-10,000 word study or thesis on a topic of relevance to the wine industry, researched and written after passing the theory and practical parts of the examination. Students choose their own topics.  

Mentor support

Each student is assigned an MW who will act as his or her mentor over the course of the study programme. All mentors give their time voluntarily and receive no remuneration. The mentor will advise students about structuring and monitoring their revision programme, and they may comment on the assignments - the essays and tasting questions - centrally set to the students. Students writing RPs will normally be supported by a different mentor, who will provide guidance principally on the process.

Further information

If you have more questions on the study programme contact Angus Brook, IMW Education Officer