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Postgraduate Admissions

4 courses offered in the Department of Politics and International Studies

The Master of Studies (MSt) in International Relations is a part-time programme designed for professionals from, for example, industry, teaching, the civil service or the armed forces.  We also welcome recent graduates wishing to undertake postgraduate studies alongside their professional commitments.  The course is distinctive in its multidisciplinary approach and breadth. Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminars, in theory, politics, history, economics, law, security and various regional and area studies, as well as individual thesis supervision. The taught part of the course aims to familiarize you with the range and variety of disciplines required for a thorough critical understanding of the field in all its complexity and of the means and methods that have been devised to understand it better.

All teaching takes place in Cambridge during the six residential sessions which are scheduled as follows:

18 September 2023 - 29 September 2023

04 December 2023 - 15 December 2023

08 April 2024 - 19 April 2024

24 June 2024 - 05 July 2024

30 September 2024 - 04 October 2024

13 January 2025 - 17 January 2025

Attendance at all the residential sessions is compulsory and applicants must ensure they can meet this attendance requirement before applying for the course.

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The MPhil in Politics and International Studies is a nine-month full-time course offered by the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS). It is designed to meet the needs of all those who wish to enhance their understanding of international relations and politics at a graduate level. It is appropriate for those who wish to embark upon an academic career, in the first instance through pursuing doctoral research, but also for those looking to embark on careers in the media, politics, law, public administration, the civil service, finance, teaching, and the charity sector.

The programme aims to offer advanced engagement with various aspects of the academic study of Politics and International Studies. It will provide you with a critical understanding of a range of issues involved in the study of these disciplines, primarily through a mixture of lectures and research-driven seminars.

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The PhD programme at POLIS offers the opportunity for detailed research on a specific topic, within the broad field of Politics and International Studies, fostered under the supervision of leading experts. The pages here give you further information about the PhD programme, how to apply, and information on obtaining funding for the PhD. If you have questions that are not covered in the material here, please look at the pages on the POLIS website.

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The MPhil in Public Policy (MPP) is a multidisciplinary, practice-oriented course hosted by the Department of Politics and International Studies. MPP students will come to the course with two to five years of work experience and a desire to build careers in public policy, in government or in the private and third sectors. The programme provides students with a thorough intellectual grounding and practical experience in the processes of policymaking, as well as an understanding of the range of knowledge and skills they need to be effective in the world of policy.

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8 courses also advertised in the Department of Politics and International Studies

From the Centre of African Studies

The MPhil in African Studies is designed both as a freestanding qualification for students who want to enhance their understanding of the social, cultural, political and economic history and present condition of Africa, and as an excellent introduction for those who want to go on to further primary research. It will introduce students to the latest research topics, methods and debates in African studies at an advanced level and provide intensive research and language training for those who wish to go on to prepare a doctoral dissertation. There are a number of elements to the course: a taught element, intensive language training, seminars and a dissertation. Full details of the content of the course can be found on the Centre's website.

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From the Centre of Development Studies

The MPhil in Development Studies is an incisively interdisciplinary course that gives students a firm grounding in the political economy of development while drawing on theories and methodologies from political science, sociology, economics and anthropology. Our guiding principle is that no important issue in development – such as poverty and inequality,  the role of institutions, gender relations, technology, war and human rights, colonial histories and decolonisation projects – can be properly understood without a reflexive and interdisciplinary perspective.

The MPhil course consists of one core paper  ‘Intellectual Traditions of Development’ taught in Michaelmas term and a range of option papers (6 to 8) from which students must choose two, offered in Lent Term. The course also consists of a 20,000-word supervised dissertation.

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From the Centre of Development Studies

The Development Studies PhD course is largely a full-time course which lasts for a minimum of nine terms (three years), and up to a maximum of 12 terms (four years). First-year students are known as NOTAFs (not at first registered). All first-year students (both full-time and part-time) must complete a mandatory methods course. All students are required to submit a First Year Report and pass a first-year assessment viva before holding PhD student status.

Following the completion of the first-year assessment (or second-year in case of part-time students), the majority of PhDs will commence fieldwork to conduct research for their thesis. This may include research at archives and libraries, conducting interviews, etc. Ethical approval is required prior to commencing research.

Research material is collated, often in the third year, with drafts of a thesis discussed with the student's supervisor. Students are required to submit their thesis by the submission deadline. A viva is then conducted between the student and two examiners, and upon successful completion, or completion of corrections, the student is then required to submit a final hardbound thesis to finalise the programme.

A part-time PhD route is available and proceeds in a similar sequence but over a longer duration, with a maximum allowed length of seven years.

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From the Centre of Latin American Studies

The Centre of Latin American Studies (CLAS) offers a full-time and a part-time PhD programme. The Centre currently has approximately 15 PhD students at different stages of the programme, working in a range of areas. Both full-time and part-time PhD students are required to be resident in Cambridge for the duration of their degrees, with the exception of extended fieldwork trips.

The students form a lively academic and social community, playing a full part in the Centre's activities, meeting regularly to present their latest research to each other and organizing seminars and conferences with the Centre's support. 

Further information, including current and past student profiles, is available on the Centre's website.

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From the Centre of South Asian Studies

This is a postgraduate course with a substantial research component, which runs for nine months covering the three terms (Michaelmas, Lent and Easter). It is designed to enhance the understanding of social, cultural, political and economic history; and the present geopolitical and policy environment in South Asia. It provides intensive research and language training for those who wish to go on to prepare a doctoral dissertation, but it is also a freestanding postgraduate degree course in its own right. Teaching and learning for the course take place in the Centre of South Asian Studies and the various humanities and social science faculties and departments.

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From the Centre for Gender Studies

The PhD in Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies introduces students from a wide variety of academic backgrounds to the traditions, methods and front-line research that shape gender analyses at an advanced level through a series of seminars and lectures as well as close personal supervision.

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From the Centre for Gender Studies

The MPhil in Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies provides rigorous advanced training in the multi-disciplinary study of gender. The course is designed for those students who wish to prepare for PhD or further research and also, for those who want to enhance their understanding of 'gender' by undertaking a 9-month MPhil only.

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From the Institute of Continuing Education

Awaiting Approval

Department Members


Professor Jason Sharman
Head of Department

  • 26 Academic Staff
  • 6 Postdoctoral Researchers
  • 283 Graduate Students
  • 300 Undergraduates

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