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How to Apply for MPhil or PhD in Classics at Cambridge

Key dates for application and funding deadlines can be found on the University Course Directory webpages

* In accordance with the funding deadline of the course you are applying to.

Note for MPhils: Even if you are not seeking funding from Cambridge sources, you are strongly urged to apply by the early January postgraduate funding competition deadline on the course directory. The number of offers we make is capped centrally and we review applications as a gathered field. Later applicants may find that places are already committed.

Note for PhDs: New PhD students can begin their course at the start of any term throughout the year. However, the funding timetable is structured around an autumn start, and the same applies to postgraduate seminars, Freshers events, etc.

The Application Procedure

All applications are made electronically with an online Applicant Portal through the University's Postgraduate Admissions Office

The Faculty itself has extra requirements, further to the standard application form. These are uploaded to your application as supporting documents.


If you are seeking funding for your course, there are specific deadlines and eligibility criteria for each distinct funding competition. Please check the Postgraduate Admissions web pages for full details. You can use the Cambridge Funding Search to see which competitions you are automatically considered for. The Faculty also has information on its own funding competitions, here.

For funding purposes, the deadline refers to the date on which you submit your online application with supporting documents.  It is vital that you submit your application by the earliest relevant deadline for any funding that you wish to be considered for.

Application Checklist

Your application needs to include:

  1. Two academic references
  2. Transcripts from your previous degree(s)
  3. Research proposal (up to 500 words) - see note 1
  4. Summary of Attainments in Classics - see note 2
  5. Samples of academic written work - see note 3

Additionally, you may need:

  • a personal reference (if applying for Gates Trust funding)
  • proof of your English Language qualification (if English is not your first language)

After the Application - What Next?

  1. Once you press submit, your application is forwarded to the Faculty.
  2. Two academics (with relevant expertise) will read your application, and decide whether or not to invite you to interview.
  3. If you are invited to interview this will be via Zoom. 
  4. Afterward, your interviewers will write a joint report that is sent to the Faculty's Degree Committee.
  5. The Faculty carefully examines both the application and the joint report, and then makes its own recommendation to the central University.
  6. The University then sends out a notification to the applicant, either of an offer being made, or of rejection.
  7. The Faculty sets a higher academic requirement for entry above the general requirement for the University. Our standard offer of a place requires getting a First in your undergraduate degree or a Distinction in your masters degree.

Due to the unusual structure of Cambridge University, these decisions can take a little while to filter through the various committees and departments that must consider them. As a result it may take several weeks for a decision to come through after your interview. We thank you in advance for your patience!

Applications are usually considered in gathered fields, grouped around the funding stages. For example, those applying for Gates Funding are considered together, interviewed and then shortlisted for funding, before moving on to the next group.

Please be aware that this process may take several months. You can check the status of your application at any time via your applicant portal but if you have any particular queries or concerns please .


[1] Research Proposals: While there is a box on the application form for a research proposal, the space is limited and formatting is very sparse. It is recommended that you upload a research proposal (of no more than 500 words excluding bibliography) as a separate document.

Also note:-

MPhil Applicants - As the MPhil is primarily a research course, your chances of acceptance will be greatly improved if you submit a brief research proposal, outlining some of the areas, themes and questions that you might wish to examine. It is also worth considering how these ideas might fit into the framework of the MPhil course (i.e. two essays and a thesis). This does not need to be detailed, as we are well aware that interests change and projects develop.

PhD Applicants - You should give as much information as possible about your likely subject of specialization. This should outline the basis for your interest in the proposed subject (including some bibliography), detail your sense of the principal issues of current debate and where you stand with respect to them, and inform us of what exactly you hope to be able to achieve or contribute to our understanding of the field through your own research.

This does not prevent you from negotiating a change in your topic later, but it does help us to decide how well we can cater for your needs, whether you are qualified to undertake the research, and who your initial main Supervisor should be. You are free, if you wish, to say on your application form who your preferred Supervisor would be, and you may find it helpful to contact possible Supervisors to discuss possible projects before applying.  (You can find on this site a list of Faculty members and their research interests).

[2] Attainments in Classics:

MPhil Applicants - Please give us an idea of your experience with the classical world to date. A list of texts that you have read in the original Greek or Latin would be ideal. If you have not previously had an opportunity to read much Latin or Greek, then an idea of the modules you have studied and a list of texts you have studied in translation. This is particularly important if your undergraduate qualification is not entirely in Classical subjects.

PhD Applicants - So that we have an idea of the extent of your experience of Greek and Latin where that is relevant to your research proposal, please list all the Latin and Greek texts that you have read at any point in the original language (e.g. Homer Odyssey 11–13; Thucydides 1; Plato Crito, Meno, Laws 10; Lucretius 3, Vergil EcloguesGeorgics 4, Aeneid 1, 4, 8, 12, Juvenal Satires (all); Tacitus Annals15).

[3] Samples of Academic Written Work: The Faculty has no rigid requirements for samples of work. We typically receive two essays of up to 5,000 words each, or a single piece of up to 10,000 words. Ideally, we want to see recent academic writing (on a relevant subject) in which the applicant examines a question with some degree of depth. That said, we are aware that many degree courses only ask students to write shorter pieces than this, and that is also acceptable. If you wish to submit two essays of up to 5,000 words, please upload your two essays as a single document in the applicant portal.

It is obviously a great help if the work is written in (or translated into) English, but our academics are used to reading work in the major languages of classical scholarship (English, French, German and Italian).

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