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free_books[5].jpgIndividually supervised research is the main educational thrust of the MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History, to which students will devote most of their time.It aims to introduce students to advanced study of a more specialised and intensive kind, preferably in areas relevant to the student's future PhD topic.

Each student is assigned to an overall Supervisor for the entire MPhil year. Graduate students in Cambridge are expected to have the capacity, and enthusiasm, for organising their own research and to work largely on their own initiative. The Supervisor will be an expert in the student's area of research interest and will guide the student’s entire programme of study. For more information see the Faculty's pages on Supervision.

The Supervisor’s role is to help students to clarify their own ideas and formulate their research strategy, not to impose his or her own interests on the student or act as an undergraduate teacher. The general norm for supervisory assistance is one supervision every two weeks during the eight weeks of each full term.

Students are expected to produce written work in advance for their Supervisor’s comment at most meetings and not to meet only for general discussion. Supervisors on the other hand are obliged to offer constructive comments on these written submissions and guide students towards the timely completion of their examination work.

MPhil Essays

Students will produce two 5,000-6,000 word essays, one in Michaelmas Term and another in Lent Term.

Each will count toward 25% of the final degree, for a total of 50%.  The two essays together constitute Part I of the MPhil, and students must receive passing marks in order to move to Part II.

Students will also prepare a 2,000-word dissertation proposal essay due in the Lent Term. This essay will be unassessed but students will meet with their Supervisor to discuss the essay and get feedback in preparation for the dissertation.

For these essays Students may choose to work with a different essay supervisor from their overall supervisor for one or both of these essays (subject to availability of the desired supervisor). Such sub-contracting can be a useful way for students to benefit from the wide range of expertise available in Cambridge, but should be arranged in consultation with the overall Supervisor in order to plan a coherent course of research for the year.


The thesis is Part II of the MPhil in Political Thought and History.

All students will submit a thesis of 15,000-20,000 words, worth 50% toward the final degree. 

At the discretion of the Examiners the examination may include an oral examination on the thesis and on the general field of knowledge within which it falls.

Practical assessment

All students will present their work at least once during the academic year and will receive feedback from academics and peers on their work-in-progress. This is not an assessed element of the course but is a valuable feedback tool for the dissertation.