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Graduate Admissions

Course closed:

International Relations and Politics is no longer accepting new applications.

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.

Among graduate courses in international relations and politics at British universities, the Cambridge MPhil in International Relations and Politics 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 familiarise 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.

The programme is suitable both for students who have just completed their first degree and for mature students from, for example, industry, teaching, the civil service or the armed forces.

The department is looking to attract between 50 and 60 highly qualified candidates for the MPhil programme each academic year.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course participants will have:

  • developed a critical view of the contribution made by the subject of international relations, and its related disciplines, to social science more broadly conceived and to practice;
  • an in-depth knowledge of specific subjects and themes in politics;
  • have become familiar with some of the main themes of the contemporary analysis of international relations and politics; and
  • have tested their ability to produce a piece of advanced scholarship in conformity with the scientific methods, research techniques, standards of argument and accepted style of presentation of an academic discipline. They will thus be prepared to continue, if necessary, with research at the doctoral level.

Teaching and learning methods

Such knowledge and understanding are developed through the lectures and seminars associated with the various course options, of which students study three; and by writing three mandatory practice essays, one for each of their chosen taught course options, in preparation for the examinations or course essays. Research skills are developed through a research methods course offered by POLIS and quantitative methods modules taught through the Social Sciences Research Methods Course (SSRMC). These research skills are assessed through an essay in which students reflect on specific methods relevant to their dissertation research .


Those who hope to read for a PhD at Cambridge immediately after the MPhil will need to obtain support from a potential supervisor. This need not be the same person who supervises your MPhil thesis. However, in view of the early deadlines, you will need to work extra hard to let the potential PhD supervisor see substantial work that you have written, in addition to your draft thesis proposal, at an early stage in the academic year.

Once you have applied for the PhD a definite decision will only be taken once your performance in the MPhil can be fully assessed. That is to say, the Committee will set conditions for you related to the entry requirements of the PhD, one of which is a distinction in the MPhil. If you do not achieve these targets, it is unlikely that you can continue to read towards a PhD at POLIS.

Key Information

10 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Department of Politics and International Studies


Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 3, 2018
Application deadline
Jan. 15, 2019
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2019

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

Graduate Funding Competition
Jan. 3, 2019
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 10, 2018

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