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Postgraduate Study


One to one supervision

The Degree Committee for the Faculty appoints a principal supervisor and an adviser for each research student. In some cases, a secondary supervisor may be appointed, especially when the research topic is strongly cross-disciplinary. Research students in CCL will have daily contact with the research group within which they are placed. In addition, they should expect a meeting with their supervisor(s) at least once a month.  

Generally, a full-time student could expect 10-12 hours of supervisions over the course of each academic year.  For part-time students, this is 6-7 hours.

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

Seminars & classes

Research students are expected to attend weekly research seminars and discussion groups in their research group. They may also attend other relevant research seminars offered by Linguistics or other language science departments in Cambridge. Research students must attend training in research skills. These are offered by Sectional PhD training seminars and the Researcher Development Programme of the University.


Attending lectures is optional but students may attend relevant courses offered by language science departments in Cambridge.

Posters and Presentations

Students are expected to contribute actively to relevant seminars, research groups and conferences by presenting posters and oral presentations. These can be explicitly recommended by the supervisor or selected by the student from among the advertised events and discussed with the supervisor. 


Feedback on progress is provided through regular meetings with the supervisor. Termly supervision reports are written and are made available to the student online. Students also obtain feedback through first-year registration interview and 6th and 9th term interviews.  Termly progress interviews take place in the fourth year of the PhD.


Thesis / Dissertation

There is a normal word limit for the thesis of 80,000 words (including footnotes and appendices but excluding bibliography). The thesis should represent a significant contribution to learning through the discovery of new knowledge or through the connection of previously unrelated facts, or the development of new theory, revision of older views or some combination of these. In writing the thesis you are expected to take account of previously published work on the subject and the thesis should be clearly and accurately written, paying due attention to English style and grammar. Candidates for the PhD in Cambridge are guided by a supervisor, though they will normally also discuss their work with a number of other experts in their field.  Following the submission of the thesis, an oral (viva) examination is held.


Regular progress interviews constitute a system for the formal monitoring by the Degree Committee of the progress of all students working towards a PhD. 

Postgraduate students are admitted in the first instance for a probationary period during which they are not registered as a candidate for the PhD degree. The registration interview in the third term (or fifth term for part-time candidates) is the context in which formal registration as a candidate for the PhD is formally considered. Satisfactory progress is a condition for being registered as a doctoral student.

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Key Information

3-4 years full-time

4-7 years part-time

Study Mode : Research

Doctor of Philosophy

Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics This course is advertised in multiple departments. Please see the Overview tab for more details.

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 15, 2022
Application deadline
Oct. 4, 2023
Course Starts
Jan. 5, 2024

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

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.

Lent 2025

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
Oct. 2, 2024
Course Starts
Jan. 5, 2025

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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