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Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

English Studies is no longer accepting new applications.


In Michaelmas Term most students take one set of taught Research Frameworks Seminars and one set of taught Specialist Seminars. In addition, and depending on their research specialisms, some students may take a set of taught Textual Studies seminars, or may take the latter instead of Michaelmas's Research Frameworks Seminars.

In Lent Term all students take one set of taught Research Frameworks Seminars and two sets of taught Specialist Seminars. 

By special arrangement, and subject to certain conditions, a set of Specialist Seminars may be substituted by a course from another MPhil.

In addition to the taught seminars, the Faculty provides Research Training lectures and talks in Michaelmas and Lent. These are complemented by events and training sessions provided by the University Library and Faculty Library, dealing with subjects such as bibliographical and information management skills, the use of electronic resources, and good referencing practices.

A wide range of specialist research seminars (attended by PhD students and academics as well as by MPhil students) are also provided, and MPhil students are expected to attend at least ten of these across the Michaelmas, Lent and Easter Terms.

One to one supervision

Eight hours of one-on-one dissertation supervisions are provided across the course, half of these in the Easter Term when students work exclusively on their dissertations. 

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

Seminars & classes

70-80 hours per year


Each student has a supervisor who gives advice on planning the year's work and the dissertation in particular.  Advice on the choice of Michaelmas coursework essay topic and on the choice of Lent essay topic is given by the convenor of the appropriate seminar in each case, and further supervision is then offered by the dissertation supervisor who reads and comments on a draft of each essay prior to its submission.

Documentation offering specifications and guidance in relation to each element of assessed work is also made available to students online.

Progress is monitored through the discussion with each student of draft sections of their dissertations by their supervisor, and through the provision of feedback on submitted work. The short written exercise, which is submitted in Michaelmas term and is a preparatory essay written in relation to the student's dissertation project, receives feedback from the supervisor. The first coursework essay, which is submitted shortly after the end of Michaelmas Term, is returned with two examiners' reports early in Lent Term. The Lent Term coursework essay is returned with two examiners' reports at the beginning of Easter Term. Supervisors write termly reports online which can be accessed by the student.


Thesis / Dissertation

Students submit a 12,000 to 15,000-word dissertation at the end of Easter Term which contributes 50 per cent to the overall final mark for the degree.


Formative assessment:

Students submit a short written exercise relating to the dissertation, which is marked on a pass/resubmission basis, during Michaelmas Term. Feedback is given on this work but this exercise does not contribute to the final degree result. 

Summative assessment:

Most students submit two 5,000-word coursework essays, one shortly after the end of Michaelmas Term and one after the end of Lent Term. These relate to the work pursued in the Specialist Seminar(s) taken in these terms.

Students who choose to specialise in Medieval literature can, if they wish, substitute the Michaelmas coursework essay with an exercise in Textual and Related Studies. 

The two pieces of coursework submitted contribute 20 and 30 per cent respectively to the overall final mark for the degree (the higher-scoring of the two pieces of work contributing the higher percentage). 

Written examination

Students who choose to specialise in Renaissance literature sit a palaeography exam at the end of Michaelmas Term. This must be passed in order to be certified as a Renaissance specialist but the specific mark awarded for it does not contribute to the final degree result. It is therefore a summative but zero-weighted assessment.

Key Information

9 months full-time

Study Mode : Taught

Master of Philosophy

Faculty of English

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Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
Jan. 3, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

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

Course Funding Deadline
Jan. 4, 2024
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

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