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Postgraduate Admissions


The teaching for the MPhil in Polar Studies consists of the following elements:

  • Core course: taught in the first (Michaelmas) term;
  • Skills and Research training: taught in the first (Michaelmas) and second (Lent) terms;
  • Dissertation: supervised in all three (Michaelmas, Lent and Easter) terms.

The MPhil in Polar Studies consists of two strands (humanities and social sciences, and physical sciences), each composed of two modules. Lectures and seminar-based teaching takes place in the Michaelmas term. The remaining two terms are devoted to a research-led dissertation.

One to one supervision

Each student is allocated a dissertation supervisor before the course begins. Generally up to ten meetings of up to one hour of one-to-one supervision as well as briefer meetings when needed.

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision.

Seminars & classes

16 hours in the first term.

Students are also expected to participate in internal and external research seminars, and a research forum.


The skills and research training programme comprises up to eight one-hour lectures in the first term and optional lectures in the first and second terms.

Literature Reviews

As part of the dissertation.

Posters and Presentations

Dissertation presentation in the second term.


Written feedback is provided on each submitted essay and the dissertation. Online written progress reports are provided each term.


Thesis / Dissertation

20,000-word dissertation which, at the discretion of the examiners, can include an oral examination on the dissertation and the essays and on the general field of knowledge.


Three essays, each of about 4,000 words in length, the first chosen from a list of topics, and the second and third on topics chosen by the candidate, with the approval of the Degree Committee.

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Key Information

9 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Scott Polar Research Institute

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2023

Applications open
Sept. 15, 2022
Application deadline
March 31, 2023
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2023

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Dec. 1, 2022
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 12, 2022

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2023, Lent 2024 and Easter 2024.

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