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Postgraduate Study


The MPhil in Modern British 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 British history, allowing them to integrate into the research culture of Modern British history at Cambridge.

The MPhil involves three assessed components:

  • a core course (eight two-hour classes) examined through an essay of 3,000-4,000 words (excluding footnotes and bibliography), worth ten per cent of the overall mark
  • two option courses (see representative list below; eight two-hour classes for each option) examined through an essay of 3,000-4,000 words (excluding footnotes and bibliography), each worth ten per cent of the overall mark
  • a dissertation (15,000–20,000 words) worth 70 per cent of the overall mark

All students will also take a Research Challenge skills training session, and complete tasks set by the Course Director. These assignments are not formally assessed, but informal feedback will be provided.

 In addition, students will attend one of the weekly research seminars offered by the Modern British History subject group (including Modern British History, Modern Cultural History, Irish History, British Social and Economic History).

One to one supervision

All students admitted to the MPhil in Modern British History will be assigned a supervisor to work with them throughout the course, but crucially on the dissertation.

Students will meet regularly with their supervisor for one-on-one supervisions throughout the course. 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 module, Debates in Modern British History. The module is run with weekly seminars and key readings throughout Michaelmas term and aims to help students come to a foundational understanding of the key themes in Modern British 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 Michaelmas term and one module in the Lent term. The courses offered each year may vary.

In 2022-23 Modern British History ran the following optional courses:

  • New Times: Britain Since the 1970's (Michaelmas)
  • Interpreting Modern Ireland, 1845 to the present (Michaelmas)
  • Becoming Victorian: transitions to 'modernity' in nineteenth-century Britain (Lent)
  • Modern Britain and the Caribbean (Lent)

Students will attend at least four sessions of skills training associated with the Research Challenge and complete the tasks set by the Course Director. These assignments are not formally graded, but informal feedback will be provided.

Students are also required to attend and participate in the fortnightly research seminar in Modern British History.  Students are encouraged to ask questions and engage with speakers.


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


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;
  • written and oral feedback on dissertation proposal essay to be discussed with their supervisor; and
  • formal written feedback from two examiners after examination of a dissertation.


Thesis / Dissertation

The dissertation is Part II of the MPhil in Modern British 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 on the dissertation and the general field of knowledge within which it falls.


Each of three modules in Michaelmas and Lent (one Compulsory Core, and two Options) will require a 3,000–4,000-word essay (or equivalent). 

Each will count toward ten per cent of the final degree mark, for a total of 30 per cent. Taken together, these are Part I, and students must receive passing marks in order to move to Part II.

Students will also prepare a 2,000-word dissertation proposal essay due in the Lent term. This essay will be unassessed but students will meet with their supervisor to discuss the essay and get feedback in preparation for the dissertation.


All students must take part in their Compulsory Core and Options modules (which may include written work, group work, and class participation). This element is not formally assessed, but satisfactory participation is necessary for progression through the course.

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Key Information

9 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Faculty of History

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2024

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
May 16, 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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