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How I got an MPhil in Development Studies at Cambridge

Hello,

I know how much it helped me to hear from friends how they filled out their applications to get into their master's programmes, so I wanted to just give all the details about what my application was like in case it helps others.

My offer for an MPhil in Development Studies is conditional on me getting a 68 overall for my undergrad. I currently do a BA in European Studies French Pathway at King's College London.

My transcript grades are as follows:
First year: 74, 71, 76, 74, 81
Second year: 80, 71, 70, 71, 70, 71, 66
Year Abroad (counts): 71, 85
Final year: TBC

My work experience includes two years working part-time at an MP's constituency office doing admin work. I have worked 3 months as a research fellow at my university (unpaid besides grant). I have volunteered 3 months at a charity as a Political Communications Officer.

The personal statement I wrote only needed to be 2500 character. I should stress that you should not take phrases directly from this as the university uses turnitin to detect plagiarism. My personal statement was as follows:

As academic literature generates mediated accounts of reality, writing from sites of power can lead to social and epistemic injustices. To eliminate colonial legacies imbedded in development projects, knowledge production about development theory and practice cannot be left to “Northern” or “Western” agency. Centring Southern and subaltern perspectives in development thinking is my motivation for studying an MPhil in Development Studies at the University of Cambridge.
As my upbringing impressed on to me the impact of such exclusion from dominant discourses, Development Studies’ counter-hegemonic focus is the ideal fit for me. I am particularly drawn to papers 2, 3, 290 and 390 as they challenge discursive and cognitive binaries entrenched in notions of development. Furthermore, the University of Cambridge’s reputation of fostering a reflexive and critical pedagogical style will enrich my studies of the ‘Global South’. It is my hope that ____’s research expertise in sex work, gendered labour, and sex trafficking would be an invaluable resource for my dissertation. This will examine ___. It is my aspiration to explore this issue in greater depth as part of a PhD in Development Studies.
I have developed a strong interdisciplinary background in the historical, economical, sociological and anthropological dimensions of global politics at King’s College London (KCL). This prepares me neatly for postgraduate study in Development Studies. I have excelled at KCL, attaining 81% for my third year. Moreover, I have had two essays published in E-International Relations, and another two in KCL’s Political Theory and Political Philosophy journal. One essay explored ___. My findings led me to re-evaluate the transcendental and universalistic perspective adopted by some researchers.
My academic proficiency and my developing intellectual thought make me an excellent candidate for postgraduate taught work and beyond in Development Studies. Pursuing this MPhil will enable me to join practitioners seeking to change the world, not just analyse it.

I hope this helps and I am happy to answer any questions anyone has.
Reply 1
congrats!!
(edited 2 years ago)
Original post by rm2222
congrats!!

Thank you, best of luck with where you're at!
Reply 3
Congrats!! That's amazing!! Would you say it's even possible for a 2.1 to get an offer for this? I'm also applying the program. Thanks !
Original post by Oreooo.
Congrats!! That's amazing!! Would you say it's even possible for a 2.1 to get an offer for this? I'm also applying the program. Thanks !

I applied as well, what is your application status now plz? Thanks!
Reply 5
Original post by Meghanlaulau
I applied as well, what is your application status now plz? Thanks!

Not yet. still refining my application material
Original post by Oreooo.
Congrats!! That's amazing!! Would you say it's even possible for a 2.1 to get an offer for this? I'm also applying the program. Thanks !

Obviously it is hard to judge as I'm not part of the admin who accepts people, but one way of looking at is that they gave me an offer requiring me to get a 2.1, which certainly suggests that they find this to be an acceptable level for continuation into the MPhil. It's also a course which is in relatively low demand compared with other MPhils in subjects like International Relations. I think I remember reading that last year they accepted approx 50 out of 250 applicants or so, which gives you a 1 in 5 odds. At any rate, it's always worth shooting your shot and seeing how it goes. If you have relevant work experience or if you show you're passionate about the subject it may give you that edge which will get you through. At any rate, best of luck with the application (and obviously do let me know if you get an offer so we can look out for each other aha).
Original post by JustAnoth3rN3rd
Hello,

I know how much it helped me to hear from friends how they filled out their applications to get into their master's programmes, so I wanted to just give all the details about what my application was like in case it helps others.

My offer for an MPhil in Development Studies is conditional on me getting a 68 overall for my undergrad. I currently do a BA in European Studies French Pathway at King's College London.

My transcript grades are as follows:
First year: 74, 71, 76, 74, 81
Second year: 80, 71, 70, 71, 70, 71, 66
Year Abroad (counts): 71, 85
Final year: TBC

My work experience includes two years working part-time at an MP's constituency office doing admin work. I have worked 3 months as a research fellow at my university (unpaid besides grant). I have volunteered 3 months at a charity as a Political Communications Officer.

The personal statement I wrote only needed to be 2500 character. I should stress that you should not take phrases directly from this as the university uses turnitin to detect plagiarism. My personal statement was as follows:

As academic literature generates mediated accounts of reality, writing from sites of power can lead to social and epistemic injustices. To eliminate colonial legacies imbedded in development projects, knowledge production about development theory and practice cannot be left to “Northern” or “Western” agency. Centring Southern and subaltern perspectives in development thinking is my motivation for studying an MPhil in Development Studies at the University of Cambridge.
As my upbringing impressed on to me the impact of such exclusion from dominant discourses, Development Studies’ counter-hegemonic focus is the ideal fit for me. I am particularly drawn to papers 2, 3, 290 and 390 as they challenge discursive and cognitive binaries entrenched in notions of development. Furthermore, the University of Cambridge’s reputation of fostering a reflexive and critical pedagogical style will enrich my studies of the ‘Global South’. It is my hope that ____’s research expertise in sex work, gendered labour, and sex trafficking would be an invaluable resource for my dissertation. This will examine ___. It is my aspiration to explore this issue in greater depth as part of a PhD in Development Studies.
I have developed a strong interdisciplinary background in the historical, economical, sociological and anthropological dimensions of global politics at King’s College London (KCL). This prepares me neatly for postgraduate study in Development Studies. I have excelled at KCL, attaining 81% for my third year. Moreover, I have had two essays published in E-International Relations, and another two in KCL’s Political Theory and Political Philosophy journal. One essay explored ___. My findings led me to re-evaluate the transcendental and universalistic perspective adopted by some researchers.
My academic proficiency and my developing intellectual thought make me an excellent candidate for postgraduate taught work and beyond in Development Studies. Pursuing this MPhil will enable me to join practitioners seeking to change the world, not just analyse it.

I hope this helps and I am happy to answer any questions anyone has.

I wonder how long the personal statement for Cambridge University is for an MBA or LLM? :s-smilie:
Original post by thegeek888
I wonder how long the personal statement for Cambridge University is for an MBA or LLM? :s-smilie:

Looks like it's 5000 characters for an LLM on their website:
https://www.postgraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/lwlwllll/apply
Best of luck! :smile:
Reply 9
Original post by JustAnoth3rN3rd
Obviously it is hard to judge as I'm not part of the admin who accepts people, but one way of looking at is that they gave me an offer requiring me to get a 2.1, which certainly suggests that they find this to be an acceptable level for continuation into the MPhil. It's also a course which is in relatively low demand compared with other MPhils in subjects like International Relations. I think I remember reading that last year they accepted approx 50 out of 250 applicants or so, which gives you a 1 in 5 odds. At any rate, it's always worth shooting your shot and seeing how it goes. If you have relevant work experience or if you show you're passionate about the subject it may give you that edge which will get you through. At any rate, best of luck with the application (and obviously do let me know if you get an offer so we can look out for each other aha).

SORRY for the late reply! I applied for it. Still waiting for the result.
Hi! Is anyone applying from Italy? Is it possible to apply to MPhil Development Studies with 107/110? I graduated from Bocconi University. The international qualifications page states that the minimum requirement is 108/110, which I found strange as LSE and Oxford require 106/110 (usually considered 2:1). Plus I have strong work experience in UN, UNIDO...
Reply 11
Original post by JustAnoth3rN3rd
Hello,

I know how much it helped me to hear from friends how they filled out their applications to get into their master's programmes, so I wanted to just give all the details about what my application was like in case it helps others.

My offer for an MPhil in Development Studies is conditional on me getting a 68 overall for my undergrad. I currently do a BA in European Studies French Pathway at King's College London.

My transcript grades are as follows:
First year: 74, 71, 76, 74, 81
Second year: 80, 71, 70, 71, 70, 71, 66
Year Abroad (counts): 71, 85
Final year: TBC

My work experience includes two years working part-time at an MP's constituency office doing admin work. I have worked 3 months as a research fellow at my university (unpaid besides grant). I have volunteered 3 months at a charity as a Political Communications Officer.

The personal statement I wrote only needed to be 2500 character. I should stress that you should not take phrases directly from this as the university uses turnitin to detect plagiarism. My personal statement was as follows:

As academic literature generates mediated accounts of reality, writing from sites of power can lead to social and epistemic injustices. To eliminate colonial legacies imbedded in development projects, knowledge production about development theory and practice cannot be left to “Northern” or “Western” agency. Centring Southern and subaltern perspectives in development thinking is my motivation for studying an MPhil in Development Studies at the University of Cambridge.
As my upbringing impressed on to me the impact of such exclusion from dominant discourses, Development Studies’ counter-hegemonic focus is the ideal fit for me. I am particularly drawn to papers 2, 3, 290 and 390 as they challenge discursive and cognitive binaries entrenched in notions of development. Furthermore, the University of Cambridge’s reputation of fostering a reflexive and critical pedagogical style will enrich my studies of the ‘Global South’. It is my hope that ____’s research expertise in sex work, gendered labour, and sex trafficking would be an invaluable resource for my dissertation. This will examine ___. It is my aspiration to explore this issue in greater depth as part of a PhD in Development Studies.
I have developed a strong interdisciplinary background in the historical, economical, sociological and anthropological dimensions of global politics at King’s College London (KCL). This prepares me neatly for postgraduate study in Development Studies. I have excelled at KCL, attaining 81% for my third year. Moreover, I have had two essays published in E-International Relations, and another two in KCL’s Political Theory and Political Philosophy journal. One essay explored ___. My findings led me to re-evaluate the transcendental and universalistic perspective adopted by some researchers.
My academic proficiency and my developing intellectual thought make me an excellent candidate for postgraduate taught work and beyond in Development Studies. Pursuing this MPhil will enable me to join practitioners seeking to change the world, not just analyse it.

I hope this helps and I am happy to answer any questions anyone has.


Hi, thanks for the post, super helpful! I wanted to ask a quick question regarding the research proposal required for applying did you have a template that you used and did you write the proposal based on a dissertation?
Original post by Lika01
Hi, thanks for the post, super helpful! I wanted to ask a quick question regarding the research proposal required for applying did you have a template that you used and did you write the proposal based on a dissertation?


Hello, glad that it was helpful. Unfortunately, the application procedure appears to have changed if they are requiring a research proposal from you, as I only had to submit a personal statement. I also did not do a dissertation as part of my undergrad as it was only optional.

That said, it is generally good to structure your research proposal in the following order:
Background (make a catchy introduction on the subject area you are looking at. What is the puzzle or the gap in the academic literature which you are going to resolve? What are the main literatures currently saying on the topic, put succinctly)
Research Question(s)
Literature Review and Theoretical Framework
(expand upon what the existing camps in the literature are arguing. Explain that they have offered invaluable insights, but that they have overlooked something which you are going to address. Explain the lens/optic through which you will be addressing this topic).
Methods/Methodology (is your research approach quantitative or qualitative? Which methods are you adopting? What theoretical underpinnings justify the source of knowledge which your research deems to be legitimate -this is the methodology part and is distinct from methods-?)
Impact (Only if there's space, and there probably isn't for a master's application)
Conclusion

I would recommend "The Professor is in The Essential Guide to Turning your PhD Into a Job" as a text which expands upon the structure of research proposals. There's a freely available extract of the research proposal guide section of the book somewhere on the internet.

Best of luck!
Reply 13
Hi! Thank you for your quick reply, I'll definitely check out the essay on writing a proposal. I am currently writing up one for my undergrad diss based on a development project so I think I will probably use that as a starting point! Thank you for the advice on structure, do you recommend a way of formatting it other than the subheadings you outlined above? I also wanted to ask if you recommend reaching out to anyone on the faculty for a potential supervisor in the application? I don't seem to have PM activated but if you have time would you mind me sending a message to you when I have more of my application filled in? Would love to hear about how you found the programme! :smile:
Reply 14
Hi
I’ve applied for the BA European studies with French at Kings for 2024. I can’t find anyone else on here who’s applied so just wondered how you found/are finding it?
Thanks
Original post by Lika01
Hi! Thank you for your quick reply, I'll definitely check out the essay on writing a proposal. I am currently writing up one for my undergrad diss based on a development project so I think I will probably use that as a starting point! Thank you for the advice on structure, do you recommend a way of formatting it other than the subheadings you outlined above? I also wanted to ask if you recommend reaching out to anyone on the faculty for a potential supervisor in the application? I don't seem to have PM activated but if you have time would you mind me sending a message to you when I have more of my application filled in? Would love to hear about how you found the programme! :smile:

Heya,

They recommend reaching out to prospective supervisors for PhD applications, but I didn't for my MPhil and didn't have any problems so I assume it isn't necessary. It could be a good way to mould your diss proposal to the MPhil much better. From what I've heard from professors, it is unlikely that the person in the faculty you reach out to will review applications so I doubt it will increase your odds of getting accepted in terms of them recognising your proposal
Original post by erin11
Hi
I’ve applied for the BA European studies with French at Kings for 2024. I can’t find anyone else on here who’s applied so just wondered how you found/are finding it?
Thanks

Heya Erin, happy to have a phone call to discuss this if you'd prefer as I have lots of thoughts and I'm sure you have lots of questions. DM me if you'd like this.

To summarise my thoughts, I actually ended up on the course somewhat accidentally after rejecting the unis I got accepted in and re-applying before clearing became available. It was a great decision for me and I absolutely loved the course. Because it is more or less a joint honours degree, it is incredibly flexible in terms of the courses you get to choose between, so you can make the BA into what you want from it with a few compulsory modules (some of which were a proper drag). The BA suited me really well because I love the critical theory and philosophy side of the French department, but I know that other students found those topics rather dull so they were quite disappointed.

When I arrived I expected the French side of the course to be more language-focussed, but this isn't really the case in my experience. Each year you do have French language modules, but after first year they don't really teach you grammar anymore and it is mostly applying the language skills in the context of analysing newspaper articles etc. Loads of people on French pathway are just native French speakers, which can be super daunting. The only classes taught in French are the ones specifically centred on teaching French language, whereas the other French modules (e.g. literature, philosophy, etc.) are taught in English with French readings assigned (for which many people just read the English translation). So I didn't feel like my French progressed much and that I was thrown into the deep end during the year abroad at Sciences Po, which was very intimidating (some people do placements or go to other unis, but European Studies students get accepted into Sciences Po without having to do any entry tests). You progress a surprising amount during the year abroad, so it works out overall, but it is good to emotionally prepare yourself for that leap. There also isn't a lot of support with finding accommodation etc. in France for the year abroad - be wary of scams.

Another caveat is that because you are in two departments it can be harder to consolidate friendships because you are unlikely to see the same people in more than two or so classes a week and everyone is super spread out. If you have lots of friends in European Studies they are unlikely to do a year abroad so you end up graduating a year after them because of your year abroad, so final year can be quite lonely. Likewise, some people in the French department do their year abroad the year before you, so it is hard to hold onto those friendships.

Overall, I enjoyed almost all of the modules I took for the BA and in most cases the lecturers were really helpful with providing feedback and clarifying my understanding when I went to see them during office hours - but you have to take this initiative. The workload is manageable, especially if you learn the strategy for it. That is to say, the exams often have a question corresponding to each weekly topic, so as long as you do the readings and revise for about 5 topics, you can kinda chill for the rest of it. That said, the seminars can be a bit underwhelming if you're nerdy like me because it feels like most people are doing a degree for the sake of it and don't really care about the modules, so they don't do the reading and you're sat in awkward silence whenever the seminar teacher asks any questions. Most students in the pathway do substantially better during the year abroad than they do at KCL because (in my opinion) Sciences Po grades more generously. Because the grades counted, most people got a massive bump in their overall grade for the undergrad as a result.

Hope that's helpful. Best of luck getting in, and hope that you like it as much as I did if you do!
Heyyy do we put the title personal statement on the document or also both documents and inside the document?
Original post by Princess_Kabyle
Heyyy do we put the title personal statement on the document or also both documents and inside the document?

I titled mine '[name] Personal Statement [course]', but this was back in 2021 so it is worth checking the website
Original post by JustAnoth3rN3rd

I titled mine '[name] Personal Statement [course]', but this was back in 2021 so it is worth checking the website


So we save the file as my name personal statement ? And then do we also write this title in within the document as well ?

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