The Student Room Group
Studying in halls, University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
Cambridge

Applying for MPhil in Modern British History next academic year

Hi,
So as the title says, I'm looking to apply for the MPhil next year. I'm going into my third year of undergraduate History at Durham, and the results that I have received so far (I'm missing the grades for two assignments due to the boycott, so have two incomplete modules currently) put me in the range for doing so.

I have an idea of what I would like to study, and am currently reading around the topic.

Other than that, I have no clue what I should be doing to prepare for this.

I was hoping that someone might have some advice or share some tips? How did people find the experience? Also, how did you go about contacting potential supervisors?
Take a look at the requirements for the MPhil - for example, a writing sample, CV, references from professors, etc. Get those prepared now!

1. I would suggest picking your best and most relevant work for your writing sample, and do some edits/revisions. Also would recommend sending it to a professor or tutor and having them give recommendations on what needs work. Make sure it is relevant to your topic, and least in some capacity (you can always conduct research on your own and make a new writing sample if you don't have something related to your research topic of interest, however this will of course take longer).

2. If you haven't already created an academic CV, make one now. There are tons of helpful templates online, I recommend YouTube as well. Include relevant research projects, internships, and work experience.

3. Prepare your Statement of Purpose / Research Proposal (I can't remember which one Cambridge asks for). I highly recommend watching Katelyn Apple's YouTube videos about writing these. It's important to display that you have a good grasp on the subject matter surrounding the MPhil in addition to what you want to research. Read a lot of literature around your topic of interest!

4. Reach out to potential supervisors and attach your SoP/RP and ask for advice or if they will be interesting in taking students to supervise in these topics (DON'T ask if they will supervise you - it is not up to them and they won't be able to answer, and will probably be turned off by that question). I suggest reading up on their current research interested, published articles and books, and getting familiar with their work.

5. Reach out to potential referees. This would be professors of classes that covered topics similar to what you want to study, professors who advised and read your undergraduate dissertation/thesis, or at the very least, professors who remember you and that you did great work in. Send them your CV, SoP/RP, and the grades/accomplishments you had in their course. Ask them if they would be willing to recommend you for the Cambridge program. I believe the uni requires 2, so ask 3-4 professors in case one says no or one drops the ball and doesn't submit the recommendation in time.

6. Cambridge doesn't require an interview for the MPhil, so you want to stand out in your application. It will ask questions about you - your skills, research methods, work experience, career goals, etc. Map these out so you can write a really strong answer to these short questions. Of course, you'll highlight these in your SoP/RP as well, but they will need to be specific and concise in your application itself.

7. I highly recommend doing deep-dive research of the program, offered seminars and workshops, current research interests, and what current graduate students are working on. I even suggest reaching out to grad students from the program and asking them for advice as well. You will want to name-drop these sorts of things in your application to show that you really are interested in the program and what you can do for the uni as well as what the uni can do for you.

Sorry this was so much info, but I'm also applying to an MPhil at Cambridge this year after I didn't prepare enough last year and didn't get in (no supervisor available for my topic as well as a weak SoP in my opinion) so I'm giving advice based on experience, lol. Feel free to reach out with any questions and best of luck on your application! :smile:
Studying in halls, University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
Cambridge
Reply 2
Original post by juliannetet
Take a look at the requirements for the MPhil - for example, a writing sample, CV, references from professors, etc. Get those prepared now!

1. I would suggest picking your best and most relevant work for your writing sample, and do some edits/revisions. Also would recommend sending it to a professor or tutor and having them give recommendations on what needs work. Make sure it is relevant to your topic, and least in some capacity (you can always conduct research on your own and make a new writing sample if you don't have something related to your research topic of interest, however this will of course take longer).

2. If you haven't already created an academic CV, make one now. There are tons of helpful templates online, I recommend YouTube as well. Include relevant research projects, internships, and work experience.

3. Prepare your Statement of Purpose / Research Proposal (I can't remember which one Cambridge asks for). I highly recommend watching Katelyn Apple's YouTube videos about writing these. It's important to display that you have a good grasp on the subject matter surrounding the MPhil in addition to what you want to research. Read a lot of literature around your topic of interest!

4. Reach out to potential supervisors and attach your SoP/RP and ask for advice or if they will be interesting in taking students to supervise in these topics (DON'T ask if they will supervise you - it is not up to them and they won't be able to answer, and will probably be turned off by that question). I suggest reading up on their current research interested, published articles and books, and getting familiar with their work.

5. Reach out to potential referees. This would be professors of classes that covered topics similar to what you want to study, professors who advised and read your undergraduate dissertation/thesis, or at the very least, professors who remember you and that you did great work in. Send them your CV, SoP/RP, and the grades/accomplishments you had in their course. Ask them if they would be willing to recommend you for the Cambridge program. I believe the uni requires 2, so ask 3-4 professors in case one says no or one drops the ball and doesn't submit the recommendation in time.

6. Cambridge doesn't require an interview for the MPhil, so you want to stand out in your application. It will ask questions about you - your skills, research methods, work experience, career goals, etc. Map these out so you can write a really strong answer to these short questions. Of course, you'll highlight these in your SoP/RP as well, but they will need to be specific and concise in your application itself.

7. I highly recommend doing deep-dive research of the program, offered seminars and workshops, current research interests, and what current graduate students are working on. I even suggest reaching out to grad students from the program and asking them for advice as well. You will want to name-drop these sorts of things in your application to show that you really are interested in the program and what you can do for the uni as well as what the uni can do for you.

Sorry this was so much info, but I'm also applying to an MPhil at Cambridge this year after I didn't prepare enough last year and didn't get in (no supervisor available for my topic as well as a weak SoP in my opinion) so I'm giving advice based on experience, lol. Feel free to reach out with any questions and best of luck on your application! :smile:

Thank you so much! I've been primarily working on the RP, but I'm going to get onto the CV now. I'm worried it's not going to look as impressive as other applicants, but I guess that's a concern for everyone lol.
Reply 3
Original post by juliannetet
Take a look at the requirements for the MPhil - for example, a writing sample, CV, references from professors, etc. Get those prepared now!

1. I would suggest picking your best and most relevant work for your writing sample, and do some edits/revisions. Also would recommend sending it to a professor or tutor and having them give recommendations on what needs work. Make sure it is relevant to your topic, and least in some capacity (you can always conduct research on your own and make a new writing sample if you don't have something related to your research topic of interest, however this will of course take longer).

2. If you haven't already created an academic CV, make one now. There are tons of helpful templates online, I recommend YouTube as well. Include relevant research projects, internships, and work experience.

3. Prepare your Statement of Purpose / Research Proposal (I can't remember which one Cambridge asks for). I highly recommend watching Katelyn Apple's YouTube videos about writing these. It's important to display that you have a good grasp on the subject matter surrounding the MPhil in addition to what you want to research. Read a lot of literature around your topic of interest!

4. Reach out to potential supervisors and attach your SoP/RP and ask for advice or if they will be interesting in taking students to supervise in these topics (DON'T ask if they will supervise you - it is not up to them and they won't be able to answer, and will probably be turned off by that question). I suggest reading up on their current research interested, published articles and books, and getting familiar with their work.

5. Reach out to potential referees. This would be professors of classes that covered topics similar to what you want to study, professors who advised and read your undergraduate dissertation/thesis, or at the very least, professors who remember you and that you did great work in. Send them your CV, SoP/RP, and the grades/accomplishments you had in their course. Ask them if they would be willing to recommend you for the Cambridge program. I believe the uni requires 2, so ask 3-4 professors in case one says no or one drops the ball and doesn't submit the recommendation in time.

6. Cambridge doesn't require an interview for the MPhil, so you want to stand out in your application. It will ask questions about you - your skills, research methods, work experience, career goals, etc. Map these out so you can write a really strong answer to these short questions. Of course, you'll highlight these in your SoP/RP as well, but they will need to be specific and concise in your application itself.

7. I highly recommend doing deep-dive research of the program, offered seminars and workshops, current research interests, and what current graduate students are working on. I even suggest reaching out to grad students from the program and asking them for advice as well. You will want to name-drop these sorts of things in your application to show that you really are interested in the program and what you can do for the uni as well as what the uni can do for you.

Sorry this was so much info, but I'm also applying to an MPhil at Cambridge this year after I didn't prepare enough last year and didn't get in (no supervisor available for my topic as well as a weak SoP in my opinion) so I'm giving advice based on experience, lol. Feel free to reach out with any questions and best of luck on your application! :smile:


Exactly what this person said :smile: Preparation (3-4 hours a day) for the application took about 3 months for me. It might sound excessive, but I did get in on the first try (international applicant) and my research proposal also helped me get external funding, so it’s definitely worth the fight. Regret is worse than stress, I tend to say. Best of luck!
Original post by Pameytilla
Thank you so much! I've been primarily working on the RP, but I'm going to get onto the CV now. I'm worried it's not going to look as impressive as other applicants, but I guess that's a concern for everyone lol.


Definitely! I know for me, I lack internships or related work experience due to Covid and not many available through my university. Instead, I highlighted my research through the university (thesis for example) and any volunteer or work experience and made it related to my interests. For example I worked as a Chemistry office assistant but was able to twist it to be how I grew professionally in a research environment and learning the softwares that I would be able to apply to my MPhil history research. So completely difference fields and professions but I was able to make it sound relevant!
Original post by saara0708
Exactly what this person said :smile: Preparation (3-4 hours a day) for the application took about 3 months for me. It might sound excessive, but I did get in on the first try (international applicant) and my research proposal also helped me get external funding, so it’s definitely worth the fight. Regret is worse than stress, I tend to say. Best of luck!


Congrats on getting in! I definitely agree about the preparation - I almost consider the application itself a part time job / research project, because the program is so competitive and gaining funding is just as difficult. It takes a lot of work just to get in, but so worth it! :smile:
Reply 6
Original post by juliannetet
Congrats on getting in! I definitely agree about the preparation - I almost consider the application itself a part time job / research project, because the program is so competitive and gaining funding is just as difficult. It takes a lot of work just to get in, but so worth it! :smile:

Thank you!
And yeah, it really felt like a job and it was probably one of the most ruthless processes I’ve ever been through. It paid off though. I was bummed not to get funding from Cambridge itself, but seeing the stats, I’m not surprised. Good thing there are also private foundations interested in supporting hard-working students, otherwise I’d not be going, as international students don’t qualify for student loans in the UK.
Reply 7
Original post by saara0708
Exactly what this person said :smile: Preparation (3-4 hours a day) for the application took about 3 months for me. It might sound excessive, but I did get in on the first try (international applicant) and my research proposal also helped me get external funding, so it’s definitely worth the fight. Regret is worse than stress, I tend to say. Best of luck!

Thank you! 3-4 hours a day sounds about what I was expecting to be honest. Congrats on getting in and on getting funding!
Reply 8
Original post by juliannetet
Definitely! I know for me, I lack internships or related work experience due to Covid and not many available through my university. Instead, I highlighted my research through the university (thesis for example) and any volunteer or work experience and made it related to my interests. For example I worked as a Chemistry office assistant but was able to twist it to be how I grew professionally in a research environment and learning the softwares that I would be able to apply to my MPhil history research. So completely difference fields and professions but I was able to make it sound relevant!

My CV is very barren because of Covid too (my only work experience is my retail job because I couldn't do any in sixth form either, and my university/department doesn't like students to work in term time), so I'm hoping they'll be lenient about gaps.

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