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Postgraduate applications at Oxbridge

(15 Posts)
mummyofteens Wed 13-Nov-13 10:50:36

so my DS, 3rd year maths student, sent me a one line message last night saying he plans to give applying for a postgrad course at Oxbridge a shot.

This was a bit of surprise, and it is not for advice/information for him that I ask, but I would just like any background information that any knowledgeable mumsnetters know on this subject. I know absolutely nothing about this route of study - I didn't go to university and I just want to be able to nod in the right places, ifykwim smile otherwise I will have to resort to Google smile

funnyvalentine Wed 13-Nov-13 11:33:05

What do you want to know? Is he planning to apply for a masters or PhD?

mummyofteens Wed 13-Nov-13 12:42:39

Hi, a Masters, i think. I am just curious to know what the process is? How competitive to get a place? Even what he will gain from undertaking another period of study? I hope that doesn't sound too simplistic - rather out of my comfort zone here smile

funnyvalentine Wed 13-Nov-13 13:23:36

Both Oxford and Cambridge have detailed 'graduate admissions' sections on their webpages which explain the process. How difficult to get a place depends on what he's applying for and his academic credentials so far. Whether it'll help him depends on what he wants to do after!

Masters courses can be great for some things - specialism after a general degree, extra qualifications for a particular job, stepping stone to PhD, or just for interest!

IMO, a year's extra study straight after an undergrad degree can't really do any harm, but whether it does good depends on many factors smile

dapoxen Wed 13-Nov-13 14:48:38

Is it "Part III" at Cambridge he's considering?

If so this unofficial guide:

and the Student Room maths forum

might be useful.

LondonMother Wed 13-Nov-13 17:25:37

How's he going to fund it, OP? There is no student loan scheme for postgraduate study. A few lucky students get generous bursaries from the Research Councils or the university itself, but most self-fund. This often means taking out a Career Development Loan from a high street bank. For those that have accounts there, of course, the Bank of Mum and Dad is a very handy source of funds! Not so great for those whose families don't have any way to help fund another year of study.

A big plus side of studying at Oxford or Cambridge at undergraduate level is that the terms are short and thus the accommodation costs are lower. I don't know if that applies to postgraduate study too. However, the colleges are very wealthy so there might be some bursary funding to be had there.

Good luck to him, anyway!

neolara Wed 13-Nov-13 17:29:06

He should also be aware that if you do a postgrad course at Cambridge (and I suspect at Oxford), then as well as paying course fees, he will have to pay college fees of about £2,500 a year.

Sleepyhoglet Wed 13-Nov-13 17:56:59

Trinity college gave me a generous grant for my postgrad course. I wasn't Even a member of that college!

MrsBright Thu 14-Nov-13 18:02:14 is a good place to look for funding for postgrad - scroll down to the bottom of the first page to 'Studentships'. These start being advertised around Christmas with deadlines around Easter.

And there is a good Info Thread on the Postgrad section of Student Room - recommended.

Lomaamina Thu 14-Nov-13 20:12:07

have a look too at for studentships (i.e. scholarships) at universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, but not exclusively so (there are a few other decent ones around grin.

UptheChimney Thu 14-Nov-13 23:46:49

PG studentships are generally only for PhDs now. And deadlines are much much earlier than Easter: generally you need to be discussing your application for funding with referees etc in January.

MrsBright Fri 15-Nov-13 09:49:22


Whilst its common in Science/Tech areas to see a combined MRes/PhD studentships (ie. 1 year Masters and straight on to a 3 year doctoral program). in Arts/Humanities/Soc Sci it is essential to do a Masters before applying for a PhD place.There ARE (competitive) studentships available in both areas - from Research Councils and from the Unis themselves.

From December onwards both and the findamasters website will be full of studentships ads (both Masters and PhD) - and it is also worth asking 'what funding might be available' with any application you make as some funding is not well advertised outside relevant Unis.

dapoxen Fri 15-Nov-13 10:56:13

I realise people are trying to be helpful, but a significant amount of the advice on this thread isn't helpful. It doesn't apply to what the OP's son wants to do: maths.

Upthechimney is (in the context of this thread) correct. Studentships for 'stand alone' masters in STEM subjects are now rare.

If it is Part III that he wants to do ("the" maths masters at Cambridge, and arguably in the world), then the document I linked to above is the definitive (albeit unofficial) source of advice. It's written by a mathematician at Cambridge.

mummyofteens Fri 15-Nov-13 11:16:16

Many thanks for all your replies and I will look at the various links that have been suggested as further reading.

I had assumed that his Dad would be funding - didn't realise there was any other way - supplemented by DS working in holidays etc.

UptheChimney Fri 15-Nov-13 14:36:54

MrsBright I've been a director of graduate students in several large universities & am involved with policy in the area. My advice is certainly not "incorrect" -- most funding councils (the overall body is RCUK) are pulling out of Masters funding unless it is in preparation for a PhD (eg an MRes).

And now the deadlines are much much earlier than you stated: where I currently am, the deadline for RCUK or University funding applications is early February. Where I was previously it was the end of January (both RG universities).

So the OP's son needs to start to think in detail NOW about his Masters, and start approaching lecturers as referees etc by the end of this term. It always shocks my Third Years when I tell them how early they have to apply for postgraduate research.

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