What Is a Cambridge MPhil?

Thinking of applying for a Master’s degree? An MPhil (Master of Philosophy) course at Cambridge is a popular choice, and can be a great way of enhancing your knowledge and developing your research skills in preparation for higher-level study. This guide explains what an MPhil Master’s degree is, what the entry requirements are for typical MPhil courses at Cambridge, and how to apply for an MPhil at Cambridge.

The Profs have helped many students get into Cambridge to study MPhil degrees. In fact, more than 90% of students we work with get into their first or second choice university. Speak to a member of our team today to find out how we can help.

What is an MPhil at Cambridge?

A Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree is a type of Master’s programme offered by Cambridge University. MPhil Master’s degrees can be full or part-time degrees (between 9 and 24 months) and include various taught and research-focused content depending on the specific course.

MPhils are academically rigorous programmes and are considered an equivalent qualification to other Master’s qualifications, including MSc (Master of Science) and MA (Master of Art) degrees, among others. However, some MPhils offered by Cambridge (MPhil by Thesis programmes) are often more similar to a PhD in that they require lots of independent, high-level research in a targeted subject area, rather than taught elements. See the section below for more information on the different types of MPhil at Cambridge.

What are the different types of MPhil at Cambridge?

There are two different types of MPhil at Cambridge:

  • MPhil by Advanced Study – these programmes are taught courses that typically range from 9-12 months in length (a small number can also be studied part-time over 24 months). They usually include a range of taught elements, including written coursework, a dissertation, timed written exams, and (in some cases) an oral examination on your coursework, as well as some research elements.
  • MPhil by Thesis – these programmes are research-only courses which lead to a thesis. They are similar to PhDs in style (independent and research-focused) and are often prerequisites for PhD courses at Cambridge. They typically last for one year, however, there are a small number that can also be studied part-time over two years.

Both types of Cambridge’s MPhil courses are designed to provide the necessary knowledge and research skills to transition to PhD research. In some subjects, an MPhil is also a prerequisite for continuing research work, so it’s important to think ahead to what you’d like to pursue academically in the future.

What Cambridge MPhil subjects are there?

Cambridge offers Master of Philosophy degrees in a wide range of subjects, including MPhil Veterinary Science, MPhil Sociology, MPhil Philosophy, MPhil Machine Learning and Machine Intelligence, MPhil Finance, MPhil Engineering, MPhil Geography, MPhil Medical Science, MPhil Biological Science, and many more.

You can explore all of Cambridge’s MPhil degree programmes via its course directory.

What are the entry requirements for Cambridge MPhil courses?

The specific entry requirements for MPhil courses at Cambridge differ depending on the department, subject, content, and competitiveness of the course. The minimum entry requirement for an MPhil is typically a good upper second-class (2:1) degree from a UK university, or an equivalent from an international university. This usually equates to a GPA of around 3.6/4.0.

You will also need to meet any subject-specific requirements; for example, for highly quantitative courses, you may need to demonstrate a high level of mathematical ability through a relevant previous qualification (e.g. a first-class undergraduate degree in Mathematics).

If you are applying from outside the UK and/or have not studied in English before, you will also need to meet the English language requirements for your chosen course. This will require taking a recognised English language proficiency test such as the IELTS or TOEFL. The specific score you need in that test will depend on your chosen course. For example, Cambridge’s MPhil Physics course requires applicants to score 7.0 (with a minimum of 6.5 in Reading and 7.0 in every other individual component) in the IELTS or 100 (with no element below 25) in the TOEFL. Always check the requirements of your course on the relevant course page before applying.

How to apply for an MPhil at Cambridge

The application process for Master of Philosophy (MPhil) courses is largely the same as for other Master’s degree courses. You will need to apply directly to Cambridge via its own applicant portal, and follow the instructions provided. Your application will typically include submitting a CV, a transcript of your previous qualification/s, a statement of purpose, additional written work (such as writing samples), and two referees who can provide academic and/or professional references.

Depending on the specific course you’re applying for, you may be required to submit a research proposal detailing the specific subject area/questions you are interested in researching during your MPhil. Many courses also interview shortlisted candidates as part of the admissions process.

For more information and tips on how to apply for an MPhil course, read our helpful guides via the buttons below:


How long is a Cambridge MPhil?

MPhil by Advanced Study programmes are taught courses that range from 9-12 months in length (a small number can also be studied part-time over 24 months). MPhil by Thesis programmes are research-only courses that typically last for one year, however, there are a small number that can also be studied part-time over two years.

Do Cambridge Uni interview for MPhil?

Cambridge University does hold interviews for many of its MPhil Master’s courses. Most interviews are now held online and will involve discussing elements of your application and your suitability for your chosen course. For tips on how to prepare for a Master’s interview, read our helpful postgraduate interview guide.

Is Cambridge MPhil a research programme?

There are two different types of MPhil at Cambridge: MPhil by Advanced Study courses combine taught and research elements, while MPhil by Thesis courses are research programmes. Cambridge’s MPhil by Thesis programmes are similar to PhDs in that they involve independent research and the development of a thesis.

How to write MPhil thesis Cambridge?

If you take an MPhil by Thesis course at Cambridge, you will need to write and submit a thesis on a relevant research topic. There are many things to consider when writing an MPhil thesis, including the word limit (differs depending on the subject), the format (A4 portrait), the submission deadline (differs depending on the course), and specific content requirements, such as methodology and referencing.

At least two months before you intend to submit your thesis, Cambridge requires you to inform the degree committee of your proposed title, expected submission date, and provide a short summary. Read Cambridge’s guidance on submitting an MPhil thesis for more information.

How long does it take for Cambridge to reply MPhil?

Most departments at Cambridge University aim to get back to all MPhil applicants within 12 weeks. In fact, around 90% of applications are considered within this timeframe and many receive a decision earlier than this. For example, if you submit your application before the general funding deadline in December or January, you should receive a decision on your application before the end of March. The majority of offers are made in February and March.

If you do not hear back from Cambridge regarding your MPhil application within 12 weeks, it is likely that you have been placed on a reserve list. In this case, you can check the status of your application by contacting the relevant university department directly. Note that some departments wait until the final course deadline has passed to consider all applications together, while other departments will consider applications as soon as they are received, so the time you will have to wait for a reply may vary.

How much does an MPhil at Cambridge cost?

There is a wide variety of MPhil courses available at Cambridge and each sets its own fees for UK and international students. For UK students, MPhil fees range from £9,387-£37,200 per year, while for international students, MPhil fees range from £30,339-£41,412 per year. For part-time MPhil programmes (those taken over two years), the fee is 50% per annum of the full-time fee listed.

You will also need to factor in the cost of living while you are studying. Before you are admitted to the university, you will be asked to complete a Financial Undertaking Form. Cambridge will then provide you with an absolute minimum estimate of your likely basic living costs and personal expenses so that you can factor this into your plans.