Hey guys,I'm an American applying to the MPhil in History and Philosophy of science, and (hopefully, if I'm nominated) the gates Cambridge. Question for you guys, though...I'm wondering if you think it's a bad look that I haven't been in direct contact with anyone in the HPS dept thus far. While browsing the annals of unofficial Cambridge/Gates-Cambridge data on the Internet, I saw a couple threads written by successful applicants/zealous advice-givers about how it was important to do that. Granted, most of these were for prospective phd students (i.e. Who needed to contact potential PI's as part of their applications), but one mentioned that "finding an advisor or contact early on can be the difference between a successful application and one rejected on a technicality."
Do you think that would apply in my situation, given the type of program I'm applying to? It made me think twice because I have yet to contact anyone in the department, having honestly felt no need to throughout the process. The application to HPS itself has been fairly straightforward in that regard, and since it's a taught course, and not just research, I guess I didn't think it was necessary. Supervisors are determined for each essay and the dissertation after students arrive. I asked my (American) advisor from undergrad about it and she said it certainly would have helped, but won't necessarily tank my app.
IF I should contact people, who would I contact? And what would I say/ask? I honestly don't have any serious questions at the time, so I'd have to think pretty hard to make some up (and they might be pretty petty as a result...).
What do you guys think?
As you rightly said contacting supervisors is crucial for PhD students. For a taught program this makes no difference.
I didn't contact my department before applying to Cambridge. I did, however, write to a Professor in the department at Oxford as he had just released a book that was relevant to my topic and I wanted to just let him know. I very much doubt it had any impact on my application.