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A typical day for an MPhil student

What might a typical day look like for an HPS student? This page will hopefully give you some idea of your daily academic life as an MPhil student.

After breakfast, you could drop by the Department to sit in on an undergraduate lecture about the metaphysics of physics, before heading to a reading group about different Kinds of Intelligence to discuss differences and similarities between animal and human intelligence. Reading groups are informal and often fairly small groups that meet to discuss a piece of material – a book chapter, or paper – that is agreed in advance. Almost everyone in the Department, from students to senior academics, attends a few reading groups each week. Afterwards, you could join the Twentieth Century Reading Group, to discuss the history and historiography of 20th century science, technology and medicine.

Then you'll have one of your supervisions for the essay you're currently writing. You'll have several one-on-one supervisions for each of the three essays and dissertation you'll write as an MPhil student, in order to get feedback about your draft and discuss the ideas you're engaging with. Supervisions form the backbone of teaching for the MPhil, and are an unrivalled opportunity to get feedback and guidance from top scholars in History and Philosophy of Science. Hopefully, you'll leave each supervision with your head buzzing and a clear idea of where you want to take your essay.

After that, you could get ready for the Departmental Seminar by getting tea and catching up with other Department members. This seminar is the centrepiece of the week's departmental activities, and speakers from across the entire range of HPS come to share their latest research and gather feedback. After the speaker's presentation, there's opportunity to ask questions of the speaker, with time specifically set aside for questions from students. Afterwards there's an informal reception with drinks and nibbles, to continue the discussion in a less formal way.

After the seminar, you could even head back to the library quickly before leaving, to take advantage of their late opening hours to borrow the books suggested in your supervision. In term times the library is open until 7pm from Monday to Friday, so you have somewhere quiet to work, or can drop in at the end of the day to borrow a vital book.

The next Cambridge Postgraduate Open Day will be on Friday 1 November 2019. Booking opens in August.

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