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Frequently asked questions


When should I apply?

We will accept applications from 2 September 2019 for admission in October 2020.

The final deadline for applications is 2 June 2020 for the MPhil and 30 June 2020 for the PhD. It is not possible to apply after these dates.

However, it is likely that we will allocate all our places on the MPhil course before 2 June. If this happens we will close the admissions round early and it will not be possible to submit a new application. We therefore strongly recommend that MPhil applicants apply no later than 15 February 2020 to ensure that their application can be considered.

You will need to apply earlier than these dates if you wish to be considered for funding from certain schemes. See the table below:

2 September 2019 Graduate admissions open
9 October 2019 Gates Cambridge deadline (USA)
3 December 2019 Gates Cambridge deadline (other countries)
Cambridge Trust deadline
AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership deadline
15 February 2020 Recommended deadline for all other MPhil applicants
2 June 2020 Final deadline for MPhil applicants
30 June 2020 Final deadline for PhD applicants

All deadlines are 12noon UK time on the date stated.

We receive a large number of applications each year, so early submission is advisable.

Is there an interview?

Yes, admission is subject to an interview. The interview, with one or two senior members of the Department, can be conducted by phone or online if it is not practical for you to travel to Cambridge (unless the interview is for the part-time PhD, in which case it must be in person).

Should I submit three academic references?

No, we will not accept more than two academic references.


Can you tell me if I am sufficiently qualified to be admitted to the MPhil course?

The best way for us to assess your suitability is for you to submit a complete application. We are unable to give you a preliminary assessment of the chances of your application being successful.

Our normal requirement is a first class honours degree from a university in the UK, or a degree of an equivalent standard from an overseas university.

Graduate Admissions: International qualifications

Can I be admitted straight to PhD studies or do I have to complete the MPhil first?

Applicants are not normally admitted as a PhD student unless they have completed either the MPhil or Part III course in the Department or a similar course at another university. If you apply for the PhD we may offer you a place on the MPhil course instead if we judge that it would be more appropriate for you.

Do I need to take a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test?

No, this is not a requirement; we are unable to accept GRE test results.

Study mode

Can I study HPS as a part-time student?

We offer a part-time PhD, but the MPhil can only be taken as a full-time course.

Should I apply to start the PhD in Lent Term?

Although it is possible to start the PhD in Lent Term (January), we strongly recommend that all PhD students should start in Michaelmas Term (October). Please note that you will not be eligible for any University funding if you start in Lent Term.

Can I study by distance learning or online learning?

No, we do not offer any distance learning or online learning courses.

Further information

Where can I find information about the number of applicants?

Graduate Admissions: Admissions statistics

Who should I contact if I have any other questions?

Please contact the Department.

The next Cambridge Postgraduate Open Day will be on Friday 1 November 2019. Booking now open.


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