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Graduate Admissions

5 courses offered in the Department of Politics and International Studies

The Master of Studies (MSt) in International Relations is designed for mature students from, for example, industry, teaching, the civil service or the armed forces, but we also welcome recent graduates wishing to undertake postgraduate study. The course is distinctive in its multidisciplinary approach and breadth. Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminars in theory, politics, history, economics, law, security and various regional and area studies, as well as individual thesis supervision. The taught part of the course aims to familiarize you with the range and variety of disciplines required for a thorough critical understanding of the field in all its complexity and of the means and methods that have been devised to understand it better.

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The MPhil in International Relations and Politics is a ten-month full-time course offered by the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS). It is designed to meet the needs of all those who wish to enhance their understanding of international relations and politics at graduate level. It is appropriate for those who wish to embark upon an academic career, in the first instance through pursuing doctoral research, but also for those looking to embark on careers in the media, politics, law, public administration, the civil service, finance, teaching, and the charity sector.

The programme aims to offer an overview of the academic study of international relations and politics; to provide a critical understanding of the international political system and methods for studying it; and to equip students with an understanding of the particular contributions offered by such diverse approaches as international theory, international politics, international political economy, foreign policy and security studies, international law, and the history of international relations.

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Students come to the Centre of Latin American Studies from Britain, Latin America and across the world, attracted by the reputation of Cambridge as a world-class university, and by the rigour and breadth of the MPhil course. During the preparation of the thesis you will work closely with a supervisor whose own research expertise lies within your chosen field of study. Assessment takes the form of a 30,000-word thesis. Evidence of interest in or commitment to Latin America is expected. The MPhil course by dissertation only is generally taken by students who have already completed a Masters course elsewhere, students who have not yet attained a Masters degree but have clear reasons for taking the course by dissertation only and a very well advanced thesis proposal, and mature students returning to study with relevant experience who wish to use the course as a first step towards writing a book. In most cases, students will also be encouraged to take one or more of the modules offered on the taught course to supplement their knowledge in relevant subjects. The admission process will include a short interview.

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The PhD programme at POLIS offers the opportunity for detailed research on a specific topic, within the broad field of Politics and International Studies, fostered under the supervision of leading experts. The pages here give you further information about the PhD programme, how to apply, and information on obtaining funding for the PhD. If you have questions that are not covered in the material here, please look at the pages on the POLIS website: https://www.polis.cam.ac.uk/study-at-polis/graduates/ProsPhD

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The MPhil in Public Policy (MPP) is a multidisciplinary, practice-oriented course hosted by the Department of Politics and International Studies. MPP students will come to the course with two to five years of work experience and a desire to build careers in public policy, in government or in the private and third sectors. The programme provides students with a thorough intellectual grounding and practical experience in the processes of policy making , as well as an understanding of the range of knowledge and skills they need to be effective in the world of policy.

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9 courses also advertised in the Department of Politics and International Studies

From the Centre of African Studies

The MPhil in African Studies is designed both as a freestanding qualification for students who want to enhance their understanding of the social, cultural, political and economic history and present condition of Africa, and as an excellent introduction for those who want to go on to further primary research. It will introduce students to the latest research topics, methods and debates in African studies at an advanced level and provide intensive research and language training for those who wish to go on to prepare a doctoral dissertation. There are a number of elements to the course: a taught element, intensive language training, seminars and a dissertation. Full details of the content of the course can be found on the Centre's website.

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From the Centre of Development Studies

The MPhil in Development Studies is an incisively interdisciplinary course that gives students a firm grounding in political economics of development, especially including the study of sociology, law, political science, management, economics and anthropology. Our guiding principle is that no important issue in development – poverty and inequality, population growth, the construction of the institutions of a market economy, war and human rights, democratisation – can be properly understood without a reflexive and interdisciplinary perspective.

The MPhil course consists of core papers and a range of option papers. The core papers are the responsibility of the Centre of Development Studies' permanent academic staff; most option papers are offered by affiliated lecturers, postdoctoral researchers and visiting fellows. Some option papers are full papers and some are half papers. Students take four full papers (or their equivalent in half papers) concurrently. At least two papers must be core papers, and one (full) option paper may be replaced by a 12,000-word dissertation.

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From the Centre of Development Studies

The full-time PhD course lasts for a minimum of nine terms (three years), and up to a maximum of 12 terms (four years). Most of our PhD students spend their second year away from Cambridge, conducting their fieldwork for which some limited financial assistance is available.

Development Studies has five academic staff members: Dr Ha-Joon Chang, Dr Graham Denyer Willis,  Dr Maha Abdelrahman, Dr Shailaja Fennell and Professor Emeritus Peter Nolan.  Affiliated lecturers currently include Dr Flavio Comim, Mr Michael Kuczynski, Dr Gay Meeks and Dr Alexandra Winkels.

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From the Centre of Latin American Studies

Students come to the Centre of Latin American Studies from Britain, Latin America and across the world, attracted by the reputation of Cambridge as a world-class university, and by the rigour and breadth of the MPhil course.

The hallmark of the Cambridge MPhil course is the personal attention paid to students' needs: teaching is generally done in small groups and can often accommodate students' own interests. During the preparation of the thesis you will work closely with a supervisor whose own research expertise lies within your chosen field of study.

The MPhil course of study includes lectures, seminars and individual supervision, with teaching provided by University and College Lecturers. The MPhil comprises a Core Course and two taught modules of your choice. Assessment takes the form of three assessed essays of 5,000 words and a 15,000-word thesis. A background in literary or cultural studies, anthropology, modern languages, area studies, history or economics, sociology, politics or development is useful but not essential. Evidence of interest in or commitment to Latin America is expected. 

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From the Centre of Latin American Studies

The Centre of Latin American Studies (CLAS) offers a full-time PhD programme. The Centre currently has approximately 20 PhD students at different stages of the programme, working in a range of areas.

The students form a lively academic and social community, playing a full part in the Centre's activities, meeting regularly to present their latest research to each other and organizing seminars and conferences with the Centre's support. 

Further information, including current and past student profiles, is available on the Centre's website.

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From the Centre of South Asian Studies

This is a postgraduate course with a substantial research component, which runs for nine months covering the three terms (Michaelmas, Lent and Easter). It is designed both for students who want to enhance their understanding of the social, cultural, political and economic history and present condition of South Asia and for those who want to go on to further primary research. It provides intensive research and language training for those who wish to go on to prepare a doctoral dissertation, but it is also a freestanding postgraduate degree course in its own right. Teaching and learning for the course takes place in the Centre of South Asian Studies and the various humanities and social science faculties and departments.

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From the Centre for Gender Studies

The MPhil in Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies provides rigorous advanced training in the multi-disciplinary study of gender. The course is designed for those students who wish to prepare for PhD or further research and also for those who want to enhance their understanding of "gender" by undertaking the MPhil only.

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From the Centre for Gender Studies

The PhD in Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies introduces students from a wide variety of academic backgrounds to the traditions, methods and front-line research that shape gender analyses at an advanced level through a series of seminars and lectures as well as close personal supervision.

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From the Institute of Continuing Education

The Postgraduate Certificate in Public Policy provides a broad overview of the connections between interpretation, science, evidence and innovation in the public policy field. There is a dual focus in the programme, upon understanding scientific principles and methods, and issues of evidence and expertise, on the one hand, and the integral character of politics and political processes to the policy-making arena, on the other.

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Department Members


Professor Jason Sharman
Head of Department

  • 26 Academic Staff
  • 6 Postdoctoral Researchers
  • 283 Graduate Students
  • 300 Undergraduates

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