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    Insofar as I can tell, this is not a duplication of an existing thread, if it is, my apologies. Anyway, I was wondering if anyone has experience with Cambridge's MSt in International Relations taught via ICE? Specifically, a few questions:

    - What is the age range of students? It’s been about ten years since I received my undergraduate degree, would that make me relatively old?
    - During the two-week residential sessions, about how many hours per day are devoted to class-work (i.e. lectures and seminars)?
    - I haven’t been able to get an entirely clear answer to this question elsewhere, but does anyone know if applications are reviewed after the deadline or on a rolling basis? That is, are my chances improved by applying early?
    - What are relative undergraduate grades of successful applicants? I’m in the United States and my final grade point average was 3.74 which, I believe, is equivalent to a UK 2i honors, though I think just at the cut-off point. (In applying to U.S. schools my chances have been improved as I had a Graduate Record Exam [GRE] score in the 95th percentile, unfortunately for me, no one outside the U.S. cares about that, ha.) Also, does Cambridge evaluate heavily the relative prestige of your undergraduate institution? My undergraduate degree is from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, would this make me less competitive than someone with a lower undergraduate grade, but from, say, Harvard or Yale?

    Thanks very much in advance for any help.
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    (Original post by carmex)
    .......
    The MSt IR has one graduate and one current second year, active in here, so you should be able to get some pretty direct feedback (I'm the graduate).

    You'd be in the middle to young end at graduation plus 10, most people are 35-45 but 25 - 75 some years.

    It's roughly 9-5 with several evenings socialising/chatting/debating/sharing stories etc.

    The absolute No's and Yes's may hear early, but by and large they need to get a feel for the diversity of the cohort each year, so decisions tend to be at the later end of the cycle, March onwards.

    Grades are all over the place (though getting higher I believe). Professional experience counts for a lot, there are many more practitioners on the MSt so some academic backgrounds are non existent (there was one non-degree holder on my cohort) and some are stupendous.

    Hopefully the current student will be along shortly, if she can burrow out from the mound of reading she should be doing!
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    Fabulous - thank you very much, this was incredibly helpful!

    One other question if I could bother you - what is the intensity of coursework between residential sessions? That is, how much time is generally required to reading and so forth before and after the two-week blocks? Are all activities condensed into the two weeks or are assignments given for completion during the interregnum?
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    I'm the current student

    The current age range is very wide, ranging from around 25 to a couple of people in their 60s, but the bulk seem to be in the 30-45 bracket, so 10 years out of undergrad will probabky have you squarely in that.

    That's a decent grade from a public Ivy, and in the UK grades trump alma mater, so I can't see that aspect being a problem, borderline equal to a first. We have been told that for most applicants, the grades of students are at the same level as the full time MPhils. What will swing it for you then is likely to be the strength of your research proposal, and - possibly - any particularly interesting or insightful work experience you may bring to bear. One major advantage of this course is how much participants learn from each other about real world IR! Not everyone has this kind of experience of course - but a good number have been working in very interesting jobs.

    As for the workload, it's intense. Lectures/seminars will be pretty much 9-5 on the days you have them - which won't be every single day, depending on the options you choose, but will be for much of the sessions. You will need to have a lot of time between sessions to do assignments, prepare for exams, and read in advance of the following session. Many people have done things like take extra leave, sabbaticals, and negotiate 4-day weeks for the duration of the course to handle the workload - a few have even given up work entirely for the duration! It's not an easy ride at all. That said, I have found it intensely interesting and rewarding, and have met some fantastic people.

    One thing that is different is that the price of the course has increased drastically for the next intake. I suspect there will be fewer applicants as a result, particularly from developing countries, which I think given the subject of the course is a pity.
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    Oh also, re your sentence "taught via ICE" - it's not. ICE does the admin,but all teaching is in the politics and international studies department.
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    sj27 - Thank you so much, this is very helpful!

    If I might further inquire of either of you ...

    (a) What exactly are colleges? What if you are accepted by the MSt programme but not a college? Does that happen? Also, on application where it requests you choose a college, should I just automatically default to Wolfson College since that seems to be the one for "mature" students? If I don't get Wolfson College would I end up around 18 year olds all the time? (Not that I have anything against 18 year olds, I'd just feel uncomfortable being 32.)

    (b) On the application it asks what non-academic activities at Cambridge you'd like to participate in ... how did you two answer that question? I can't imagine what conceivable extracurricular activities one could possibly participate in when one is on-campus for two weeks every four months. All the other application questions seem fairly rote but that one has me absolutely befuddled as to the best way to respond. Perhaps I don't understand what is being asked.
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    Um, I'm going to direct you to the graduate admissions page and some googling about the colleges. It's almost unique to Oxford and Cambridge - I think durham also has colleges and that's it in the UK. As a postgrad, the colleges have nothing to do with your academics, but will pretty much be your university experience re accommodation, pastoral care as well as matriculation and graduation.

    There is no need to default to Wolfson because (a) in UK college parlance, "mature" just means 21 or older but anyway (b) the MSt sessions are outside of term time - which is really just an undergrad thing - so there will generally only be postgrads around when you are in session anyway. The reason it is outside termtime is so that the relevant academic staff are available fulltime for the MSts when they are there, and it also means colleges can provide accommodation (empty undergrad rooms). Not all colleges take part timers but of the ones that do, the more traditional ones popular with MSts are Selwyn,
    Sidney Sussex and Queens. Selwyn is my college, and they seem to take about 10-15 MSts of each intake. It's a beautiful college right next to the department and very experienced with MSts. I'd be happy to chat more about advantags and disadvantages of the various colleges in PMs if you want. By the way, at postgrad, you are guaranteed a college, but not necessarily the one you put down as first choice.

    I don't remember any question about non-academic activities...maybe because I too would not have put anything. There are people who live in or near Cambridge anyway and some that have moved there for the course, so that would apply more to them. You're not obliged or expected to do anything non-academic, but if you want to you have all the options a fulltime student would. One of our classmates has been very involved with her college's rowing team for example.

    By the way, just an anecdote going back to the intensity' plus the relevant merits of academics fulltime vs part time: there was actually one student who started out on the MSt and moved to the MPhil because it was easier (and this person was able to study fulltime as an option)... So that gives you an indication both about the workload, and the academic credentials as there was no issue with her changing 'streams' at all.
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    (Original post by sj27)
    Um, I'm going to direct you to the graduate admissions page and some googling about the colleges. It's almost unique to Oxford and Cambridge - I think durham also has colleges and that's it in the UK. As a postgrad, the colleges have nothing to do with your academics, but will pretty much be your university experience re accommodation, pastoral care as well as matriculation and graduation.

    There is no need to default to Wolfson because (a) in UK college parlance, "mature" just means 21 or older but anyway (b) the MSt sessions are outside of term time - which is really just an undergrad thing - so there will generally only be postgrads around when you are in session anyway. The reason it is outside termtime is so that the relevant academic staff are available fulltime for the MSts when they are there, and it also means colleges can provide accommodation (empty undergrad rooms). Not all colleges take part timers but of the ones that do, the more traditional ones popular with MSts are Selwyn,
    Sidney Sussex and Queens. Selwyn is my college, and they seem to take about 10-15 MSts of each intake. It's a beautiful college right next to the department and very experienced with MSts. I'd be happy to chat more about advantags and disadvantages of the various colleges in PMs if you want. By the way, at postgrad, you are guaranteed a college, but not necessarily the one you put down as first choice.

    I don't remember any question about non-academic activities...maybe because I too would not have put anything. There are people who live in or near Cambridge anyway and some that have moved there for the course, so that would apply more to them. You're not obliged or expected to do anything non-academic, but if you want to you have all the options a fulltime student would. One of our classmates has been very involved with her college's rowing team for example.

    By the way, just an anecdote going back to the intensity' plus the relevant merits of academics fulltime vs part time: there was actually one student who started out on the MSt and moved to the MPhil because it was easier (and this person was able to study fulltime as an option)... So that gives you an indication both about the workload, and the academic credentials as there was no issue with her changing 'streams' at all.
    SJ27 - thank you again, both of you have been incredibly helpful.
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    I am also interested in applying to the MSt. May I know when did you submit an application and when did you receive your offer (i.e. around how long after you submitted your application)?
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    (Original post by stang213)
    I am also interested in applying to the MSt. May I know when did you submit an application and when did you receive your offer (i.e. around how long after you submitted your application)?
    Most people submit their application in Dec of Jan. i'm not sure if a deadline has been introduced. The bulk of offers come out around the second half of March and early April. It tends to be a more than usually complex course to assess applications because there are many diverse strands (how do you compare an application for The impact of Waterloo on EU Foreign Policy versus A Constructivist Analysis of ....?) and students with very diverse backgrounds.
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    (Original post by carmex)
    ............
    You can pick whichever College you like, usually for no better reason than you like the architecture (which wouldn't make Wolfson very high on anyone's list!), but it might be food, gardens, funny name, location, whim. A few Colleges don't take MSts, so you can discount them. A few are very used to MSts, notably Selwyn (which is the best College) and Wolfson. Your College choice has no impact on your academic application, and if you get an offer you are guaranteed a College offer (but only one). A large number of postgrads don't get their first choice of College anyway (because so many go for the 'big names') so there is no point it falling in love too much beforehand and 99% of people fall in love with wherever they go (see above re Selwyn!).

    You can participate in College and University activities just as much as you like to, though that primarily depends on your location. I lived locally (not actually true in UK terms, about 120 miles away) and attended one day for an interesting lecture series (only 3x9 week terms remember) and I played sport for a university team, so training and a match one each per week. If you live in Hong Kong or similar, you won't be doing any of that! Remember the residential sessions are in vacation time so the full-time student lecture programme isn't running. But if you are there in term time, you can go to anything you want (except practicals etc)
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    (Original post by stang213)
    I am also interested in applying to the MSt. May I know when did you submit an application and when did you receive your offer (i.e. around how long after you submitted your application)?

    (Original post by threeportdrift)
    Most people submit their application in Dec of Jan. i'm not sure if a deadline has been introduced. The bulk of offers come out around the second half of March and early April. It tends to be a more than usually complex course to assess applications because there are many diverse strands (how do you compare an application for The impact of Waterloo on EU Foreign Policy versus A Constructivist Analysis of ....?) and students with very diverse backgrounds.
    There is now a deadline, I think early april? (it will be on the website) and most offers get made after that.
    The year I applied, I was an eager beaver getting the application in in ..I think..October (about a month after applications opened); I was told I was in the first batch of offers and (memory again a bit fuzzy but) I think I got it in late Feb or early March. I do know that a lot of people only got offers around May/June and a few even later than that. I'm not sure when the 'bulk' were but it sounds like it may be later than it was in threeportdrift's day?
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    (Original post by threeportdrift)
    so there is no point it falling in love too much beforehand and 99% of people fall in love with wherever they go (see above re Selwyn!).
    Um, if that was aimed at me, I fell in love with Selwyn (on a visit to Cam to check out the colleges) before I applied and that was why I put it down as first choice over some of the older ones, which on paper I had been leaning towards before I actually went there!
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    (Original post by sj27)
    ..........
    Aimed at my own demonstrable bias in my reply - but it is a 100% result so far - just saying
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    Threeport and SJ - another question, if I could bother you. How "tied down" is one to the thesis proposal submitted at the point of application? Are you able to adjust, or even completely change, your topic after admission to the programme?
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    (Original post by carmex)
    Threeport and SJ - another question, if I could bother you. How "tied down" is one to the thesis proposal submitted at the point of application? Are you able to adjust, or even completely change, your topic after admission to the programme?
    You are certainly able to adjust, many/most people do to some degree. Changing completely is a bit more difficult because thesis subjects are tied to the Supervisors, if you change too radically you might need to find a new Supervisor, and that may not be possible. But changes like starting off with a proposal that considers Europe, and then deciding you are just going to focus on a single country in Europe is very common.
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    Yeah, on the current course I am aware of a couple of people who have changed supervisors, but most have changed their topic to some extent. Indeed, a comment was made by the course director that he would be more concerned about those who, after a year of coursework, found nothing to change in their proposals!
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    Strategically, would I be better off proposing a thesis whose research is primarily quantitative, or primarily qualitative? I know U.S. universities seem to like quantitative and - my vague understanding is - UK universities like qualitative research. Is that an accurate perception or will it matter ?
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    (Original post by carmex)
    Strategically, would I be better off proposing a thesis whose research is primarily quantitative, or primarily qualitative? I know U.S. universities seem to like quantitative and - my vague understanding is - UK universities like qualitative research. Is that an accurate perception or will it matter ?
    Neither, if you want to make a 'strategic' application instead of 'your favourite option that you would be happy slogging your guts out to complete' then pick a subject that closely fits the research interests (considering a forward trajectory) of a less popular member of the academic team (popularity being measured in professional recognition, rather than personality etc). Fro that, you can hopefully tell there's no real 'strategic' solution.

    Broadly speaking, each application is sent to a subject specialist academic who grades it against pre-agreed criteria, and then sends it back to the degree committee. The degree committee tends to look for likelihood of completion, diversity of subject, and numbers fit with academics, ie if there are 20 excellent applications for one Supervisor, they have to decide if they can use other Supervisors, or not make offers to all. The former being preferable to the latter.

    Quant or qual doesn't matter, so long as you make the right choice for the research question you are proposing and you make a convincing case that it can be done in the time and word count.
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    I have submitted my application and all supporting documents last week (except ones that do not apply to me such as English language test result). But the status on the system is still "awaiting consideration by department". I read elsewhere that the status will change to "under consideration by department" after all supporting documents have been submitted. Is this true? This makes me worried that I have missed something...
 
 
 
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