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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 Postgraduate Virtual Open Day usually takes place at the beginning of November. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions to admissions staff and academics, explore the Colleges virtually, and to find out more about courses, 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 2022

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2021
Application deadline
March 31, 2022
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2022

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

Graduate Funding Competition
Dec. 2, 2021
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 13, 2021

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2022, Lent 2023 and Easter 2023.