Can anyone please talk to me about applying for a MPhil at Cambridge?

(24 Posts)
NickAngel Tue 29-Dec-15 14:30:51

Can anyone please talk to me about applying for a MPhil at Cambridge? Or alternative Master's? I'm not hugely keen on OU courses as I don't want to study alone all the time, I would love some academic conversation after so long!
I graduated 20 years ago, I have always wanted to continue studying with ultimate aim of PhD. I couldn't financially do it after graduation and instead did ( free) PGCE and then Master's units towards M. Ed so the desire has been there for a long time!
I really want this year to be the one I get I with it.
What could I expect from application process and how could I prepare for application/interview/studying?
Can anyone advise at all? It would be Modern British History. Thanks

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MedSchoolRat Thu 31-Dec-15 18:27:27

I think U need to post in Higher Education topic coz this one is for people who work in Unis. Have you tried The Student Room, too?

NickAngel Fri 01-Jan-16 17:40:44

Ok thanks.

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asilverraindrop Sat 02-Jan-16 20:47:01

I'm getting towards the end of a history MA, elsewhere, and currently applying for a PhD. I had more than 20 years out too. I can't recommend it highly enough, it's been just the right step for me so far. Why Cambridge in particular? Location or Oxbridge-ness?

JeanneDeMontbaston Sat 02-Jan-16 23:20:22

What do you want to know?

The course is slightly unusual in that it takes 9 months, not a full year, as some MPhil courses do. Would you want to apply to start in 2016? I think the AHRC funding deadline is very early January (you may already know this much better than me!), and it is always well before the main application deadline, so if funding is an issue, you need to check that.

NickAngel Sun 03-Jan-16 16:16:42

Thanks. It's a location thing as have also looked at Anglia.
I suppose I was looking for advice about how the course runs. Is it full time ( every day) with lectures and tutorials or is it mainly tutorials with Students presenting papers to each other?
Academically how difficult would it be? I know the MEd units I did were of that level but they were really straightforward and relatively easy. I'm guessing I would need to go back to historiography basics for this course but what else?
My research skills have become rather limited recently, how could I revise them?
What would an average week be like?
Funding not a problem and I know application deadlines may be against me for 2016 entry. Is it ok to call them and ask to speak to someone about course?

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JeanneDeMontbaston Sun 03-Jan-16 19:38:10

I don't think there is a part-time option, but I think MPhils are mostly taught in seminars and individual supervisions, not lectures (though you can attend any relevant lectures). But if you tried to do it part-time, just because you don't have to be 'in' every day, you'd struggle - same as with an undergrad course.

You might email admissions? If what you're wanting is a representative timetable, they could probably send you Notes on Courses (that's the document with the times/titles of seminars and lectures, which varies each year but which would give you an idea). Then, you'd have to check what individual teaching you'd expect, but I'm sure they could tell you that.


asilverraindrop Sun 03-Jan-16 19:52:16

Depending where you are exactly, you could also potentially consider the London universities. I know that both UCL and KCL have part time MAs which might be more flexible and suitable for your circumstances. If it helps, my MA has been 4 to 6 hours of small group seminars a week, for each of which I am typically expected to have properly read between three and five longish academic papers or book articles. This is two modules a semester in the first year and one per semester in the second year (full timers would do three a semester for one year). Each module has been assessed by a 4000 word essay at the end. There is also a 15000 word original research dissertation. With some variation, this seems to be a typical sort of schema for the history MAs I looked at.
However, the workload is hugely variable. Writing the essays, and reading for them, really loads the back end of each term, whereas the beginning of each term has been much easier. Near an essay deadline it has been very full on indeed.
For me, the modules have been scheduled on 2 days per week, the main issue being that the timetable is only finalised at the start of September so short notice to fit around other commitments then. I had never studied history before since the age of 16, and found it a great challenge to start with, as I didn't have any of the vocabulary or historiographical background, but I am now really enjoying it and very pleased I made the move.

asilverraindrop Sun 03-Jan-16 19:53:02

- what I mean is, is the commute to London feasible, as it would only be a couple of days a week? - if that offers a more flexible course structure?

HildaFlorence Sun 03-Jan-16 22:22:31

What about Birkbeck , it has a fabulous history dept and is very geared up for part time

MultishirkingAgain Mon 04-Jan-16 10:42:49

Why Cambridge?

If you're aiming for a PhD, why not pick the university which is best for your PhD topic? This could be Cambridge, but it might not be. Look for the best academics in the area you want to research.

Have a look at Birkbeck: they do part-time & evening courses, and their academic staff are top notch.

NickAngel Mon 04-Jan-16 11:24:02

It's location, I can't get to London twice a week in the evenings.

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JeanneDeMontbaston Mon 04-Jan-16 11:52:51

Can I ask, what will you do about the PhD, then? And what's the plan after?

I know it's not necessarily what you want to be worrying about, and I know it sounds over-cautious, but it's hard doing it all in one place. I'm in a fairly similar department and none of the MPhils from last year continued to PhD in the same place.

If you can't move or travel at all now, I'd think it'd be even harder to sort out in a year's time?

HildaFlorence Mon 04-Jan-16 12:58:47

I live in Suffolk and a doing a Birkbeck courtesy the moment , most of the MAs are one evening a week contact time , which works OK .They are very set up for and accommodating of part time learners so unless impossible I would give it a look . I am geographically closer to Cambridge but found the time requirements too difficult

HildaFlorence Mon 04-Jan-16 13:00:26

Sorry I am doing a course not courtesy ! Birkbeck is close to Kings Cross / Euston so good for the Cambridgd train !!

asilverraindrop Mon 04-Jan-16 13:38:35

With the greatest of respect to JdeM, doing it all in one place is what 1 + 3 scholarship people do anyway, and if it's the right department then surely building up connections is very helpful? Maybe Cambridge is different from elsewhere in this regard, or a stand alone MPhil is different?
I would echo Multishirking Again: if you know what you want to do your PhD on, surely it is best to pick somewhere with the relevant expertise and which will be open minded and supportive? I am doing something very specific with one of only two people in the UK who would have been able to supervise me properly. Luckily it was also geographically convenient, and even more luckily I am fortunate enough to have found a really good and really nice department which is entirely open to taking me seriously in spite of my long time out of the ivory tower and my unconventional background. I would have had a very different experience if the community had not been so inclusive and welcoming. It is a massive commitment: you need to be in the right place.

JeanneDeMontbaston Mon 04-Jan-16 14:05:57

I stand corrected, I didn't realise that 1+3 scholarships still existed.

asilverraindrop Mon 04-Jan-16 14:07:19

they do in history, certainly smile

JeanneDeMontbaston Mon 04-Jan-16 14:10:49


MaudGonneMad Mon 04-Jan-16 14:15:44

(historian here). The AHRC finished 1+3s, I thought? And are insistent that anyone on an AHRC MA funding must reapply for doctoral funding and compete with other students. Perhaps they exist for internal university funding or for ESRC scholarships.

JeanneDeMontbaston Mon 04-Jan-16 14:41:53

Yes, the AHRC moved away from 1+3 some years ago, I think? It must be internal, though I didn't realise, because I thought faculties had also moved to making people reapply.

asilverraindrop Mon 04-Jan-16 16:10:08

Yes, the ones I am talking about are internal and specific to the discipline. I didn't realise they were so niche!

MultishirkingAgain Mon 04-Jan-16 18:42:18

1+3 studentships are coming back into vogue via Doctoral Training Partnerships which is how the AHRC gives out public money for PhDs now. The AHRC has pulled most public funding from Masters programmes/students, but very very recently (like just this current funding round) they are allowing DTPs to offer suitable candidates a 1+3 programme.

Generally, however, most Masters students in the humanities are self-funded nowadays.

The ESRC may do things differently, and they also fund certain types/topics/areas of History, as well as the AHRC,.

But it's usually better in a scholarly respect to go to a different place for BA, MA, and PhD not that I did

NickAngel Mon 04-Jan-16 19:59:01

Thank you all. Very helpful.

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