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Graduate Admissions


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:

  1. a core course (eight two-hour classes) worth ten per cent of the overall mark
  2. two option courses chosen from a list offered by the Faculty (eight two-hour classes for each option) each worth ten per cent of the overall mark
  3. 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, and the onus is on students to organise these sessions, but students can expect at least one supervision session per term.

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 optional modules from a list of courses offered by the Faculty. Typically, students will select one module in Michaelmas term and one module in the Lent term. The courses offered each year may vary.

In 2018–19 the following optional courses ran:

  • Becoming Victorian: transitions to ‘modernity’ in nineteenth-century Britain
  • Sexuality and Gender in Modern British History
  • Social Knowledges and Social Authority in Twentieth-Century Britain

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.



The thesis is Part II of the MPhil in Modern British History.

All students will submit a thesis 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 thesis 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.

Practical assessment

All students will present their work at least once during the academic year and will receive feedback from academics and peers on their work-in-progress. This is not an assessed element of the course but is a valuable feedback tool 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 on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2020

Applications open
Sept. 2, 2019
Application deadline
March 31, 2020
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2020

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

Graduate Funding Competition
Jan. 7, 2020
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 9, 2019

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