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Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

American History is no longer accepting new applications.


The MPhil in American History is a nine-month full-time programme which combines elements of formal teaching with independent research. Students on the MPhil will join a group of researchers of all levels within the field of American history, allowing them to integrate into the research culture of American history at Cambridge.

The MPhil involves four assessed components:

a core course (eight two-hour classes) worth 10 per cent of the overall mark, assessed by a 4,000-word essay (not including footnotes and bibliography)

two optional courses ("options") chosen from a list offered by the Faculty (usually eight two-hour classes for each option); each is worth 10 per cent of the overall mark, and each is assessed by a 4,000-word essay (not including footnotes and bibliography)

a dissertation (15,000–20,000 words) worth 70 per cent of the overall mark

In addition to the above, students will attend the weekly American Research Seminar. With permission, students may also attend the weekly American History Graduate Workshop and undertake optional language training where relevant.

One to one supervision

All students admitted to the MPhil in American History will be assigned a supervisor to work with them on the dissertation.

Students will meet regularly with their supervisor for one-on-one supervisions throughout the course. The frequency of supervisions will vary depending on the time of year, with the regularity of meetings increasing as the year progresses and the student begins to focus more on the dissertation. Students can expect at least one supervision session per term and normally eight across the year.

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

Seminars & classes

All students will take the core course, Debates in American History and Historiography. This module is run with weekly classes throughout the Michaelmas term and is designed to help students come to a foundational understanding of the key themes in American history, historiography, and methods.

Students will also select two modules from a list of options offered by the Faculty's seven MPhil courses. Typically, students will select one module in the Michaelmas term and one module in the Lent term. The courses offered each year may vary.

In 2022-23 the options offered by American History were as follows:

  • War and Society in Modern America (Michaelmas)
  • The African Atlantic World (Michaelmas)
  • Methods and Approaches in US Cultural History (Lent)
  • US Empire in the Americas (Lent)

Students are also required to attend and participate in the weekly American History Research Seminar, which brings in a variety of impressive scholars in American history on a weekly basis. Students are encouraged to ask questions and to engage with speakers.


Although not compulsory, students are welcome to attend relevant undergraduate lectures as indicated by their supervisor.


Students will receive regular constructive feedback throughout the MPhil.

Students can expect to receive:

  • regular oral feedback from their supervisor, as well as termly online feedback reports
  • written feedback on essays and assessments
  • oral feedback from peers during graduate workshops and seminars
  • feedback on the dissertation proposal
  • formal written feedback from two examiners after examination of a dissertation


Thesis / Dissertation

The dissertation is Part II of the MPhil in American History.

All students will submit a dissertation of 15,000–20,000 words, worth 70 per cent of the overall mark. 

At the discretion of the examiners, the examination may include an oral examination (viva voce) on the dissertation and on the general field of knowledge within which it falls. This is unusual and normally only occurs if the dissertation is given failing marks.


Each of the three modules (the core course and two options) require a 3,000–4,000 word essay (not including footnotes and bibliography). Each essay counts towards 10 per cent of the final degree mark, for a total of 30 per cent. Taken together, these essays form Part I of the MPhil.

Students will also prepare a 2,000-word dissertation proposal essay due in the Lent term. This essay is mandatory but is not assessed. Students will meet with their supervisor to discuss the proposal and get feedback in preparation for the dissertation.

Key Information

9 months full-time

Study Mode : Taught

Master of Philosophy

Faculty of History

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Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
April 11, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

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

Course Funding Deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
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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