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Research Students

POLIS has an exceptionally large and strong research student body, with about 80 one year MPhil students working towards a 25,000 word research dissertation, about 50 two-year part-time M. Studies students (with the same requirement), and around 80 PhD students (20 enter each year). We encourage the best to progress to our PhD programme (on average seven students each year), while other good students pursue doctorates elsewhere. The top graduates from the M.Studies degree (who often have a background in government or business) may also stay on for the PhD.

The entry requirements are First Class Honours or equivalent for the MPhil, and Distinctions in the Masters for PhD entry followed by a first year review/upgrade mechanism conducted by the second supervisor together with an independent assessor. There are also compulsory research methods training courses at both Departmental and School level and a second year review with both the first and second supervisor, and a third year progress review where required. There is the opportunity for students to present their work at a regular Symposium, and at our annual PhD conference. There is also an overall Doctoral Programme Director with general oversight of procedures, supported by a team of academics and administrators. We provide detailed reports and feedback to students even on MPhil dissertations as well as sundry other facilities, such as a writing/publishing workshop, bought-in language training, and the provision of a standing fund to which students can apply for up to £500 towards the cost of their fieldwork.

Students are also encouraged to participate in specialised workshops and seminars, such as those run on foreign policy, the Middle East and North Africa, Rising Powers, and Governance and Human Rights. They run their own well-established scholarly journal, the Cambridge Review of International Affairs (CRIA, published by Taylor and Francis) for which the Department provides office and IT support. The students’ own Cambridge International Studies Association is a focal point for research students.