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Postgraduate Admissions

Research in polar studies embraces both the natural sciences and social sciences and humanities. The PhD in Polar Studies is a full-time three-year research degree (or five years part-time), examined by a thesis. A successful thesis will represent "a substantial contribution to knowledge" and will also represent a realistic amount of work for three years' full-time study (or equivalent part-time). Students are based in the Scott Polar Research Institute, which is a sub-department of the Department of Geography.

In the first year, students attend a comprehensive training programme based around lectures, seminars and workshops, dealing with fundamental ideas in geography, the design of research projects, and empirical methods and techniques. The University of Cambridge also offers a wide range of training courses for personal and professional development. There is no set course material.


Open Days

The Open Day usually takes place at the beginning of November. The event is suitable for those considering applying for postgraduate study at the University. It provides opportunities to meet with academics, explore the Colleges, and find out more about the application process and funding opportunities. Visit the Postgraduate Open Day page for more details.

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Key Information


3-4 years full-time

5-7 years part-time

Doctor of Philosophy

Scott Polar Research Institute

Course – related enquiries

Application – related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2021

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2020
Application deadline
March 31, 2021
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2021

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

Graduate Funding Competition
Jan. 7, 2021
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 14, 2020