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Graduate Admissions


The MPhil by Thesis is for students whose knowledge of linguistics is already substantial, and who already know the area they wish to research for their thesis. To be eligible for consideration for the MPhil by Thesis, a student will need (a) a broad foundation in linguistics, with depth in at least some subfields, and (b) a clear idea of the area in which the thesis will be written. The majority of students follow the MPhil by Advanced Study (MLM5). Students taking the MPhil by Thesis will follow some elements of the MPhil by Advanced Study as agreed with their supervisor, but the formal assessment is by a 30,000-word thesis alone. Progress will be monitored through the year by work submitted according to a schedule specified in the Guidelines for the course.

Applicants may find it useful to look at the staff research interests, and at those of others in the Faculty with interests in linguistics, to find out more about potential supervisors in their fields of interest.

Michaelmas Term

All students are required to follow a course in 'Research Methods' and a statistics course to acquire skills needed for research and 'transferable' skills. Beyond that, each student will follow his or her own 'Training Plan', which allows the individual interests, needs, and strengths of the student to be met. At the start of the course the student, with advice, if needed, from the Director of the MPhil and subject specialists, draws up a Training Plan for the Michaelmas and Lent Terms (October to March).

Lent Term

In the Lent Term students research forums, which might be PhD seminars, MPhil option seminars, or other appropriate research seminars or courses in Linguistics or elsewhere in the university, as agreed with their supervisor.  

A proposed title and summary for the 30,000-word thesis, formulated in discussion with the supervisor, must be submitted in mid-February, and this will be subject to approval by the Linguistics Section, the supervisor, and the Faculty's Degree Committee. The thesis demands independent study under the guidance of the supervisor and will involve a substantial piece of original research. 

Easter Term

The thesis is submitted on the fourth Thursday of Easter Full Term, and about two to three weeks later there is an oral examination on the thesis.

One to one supervision

Students will normally have discussed their proposed research in advance with a staff member in Linguistics specialising in the relevant subject area, and this person or an equivalent will be appointed as a supervisor throughout the year. For equity, there are norms for the amount of supervision each student can expect to receive. It is expected that a student will be capable of largely independent work.


The following supervision is provided:

•   Seven hours of supervision throughout the course

Supervision for the thesis can be taken in half-hour units, as appropriate and as agreed with the supervisor.

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


Seminars & classes

Michaelmas term

32–44 hours of research training

Lent term

Sixteen to 24 hours of research training



In Michaelmas, Lent and Easter terms reports are written by the supervisor and made available to the student online. Feedback on the thesis is provided after it has been examined in the form of written assessors' reports.



Students submit a thesis of no more than 30,000 words. Two to three weeks later there is an oral examination on the thesis.

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Key Information

9 Months full-time

Master of Philosophy

This course is advertised in multiple departments. Please see the Overview tab for more details.


Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2020

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

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

Graduate Funding Competition
Dec. 3, 2019
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 9, 2019

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