skip to content

Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

overview edited

Main Enquries Address -

Please contact the above address if your query is not addressed below.






When can I apply for the 2023/24 programme?

  • The applications period for 2023-24 runs from 15th September 2022 to 2nd March 2023.
    • The final deadline for receipt of applications for admission in October 2023 is 2nd March 2023, no applications will be considered after this date.
    • If you wish to be considered for Kanders Churchill or Gates funding the deadline is 13th October for US citizens.
    • For all other funding, the deadline is 1st December 2022.

What are the academic requirements for entry?

Prospective applicants should have a high 2:1 undergraduate degree from a UK university, Minimum GPA of 3.7 from students who have studied at a university that uses the US grading system or international equivalent (please see the guide to overseas qualifications). 

As this course is aimed at career profressionals, we are looking for candidates with at least two years professional experience. For exceptional applicants, we will consider less than this but are very unlikely to admit applicants who have not yet completed their Undergraduate degrees.

What are the language requirements?

A fluent command of written and spoken English is essential. Adherence to this requirement is strict, especially for candidates on one-year courses. Students must be able to demonstrate that they are able to communicate in English at a level and in an idiom suitable to the subject.

Accepted English Language Tests and minimum levels

  • IELTS score of 7.5 (with a minimum of 7.0 in each individual component)
  • TOEFL score of 110 (with a minimum of 25 in each individual component)

Please note: the Department of Politics and International Studies does not refer applicants to the University’s Language Centre.

What supporting documents are required?

In addition to a completed application form:

  • Two academic references or one academic and one professional reference
  • Transcripts of previous higher education degree results
  • A current CV
  • 800 word statement of interest
  • 1000 word essay on a policy issue of your choice

Please note: There are no specific requirements for the essay, it can be a national or international policy issue to demonstrate your style of writing and how you construct your ideas on policy.

I do not meet the academic requirement, can I still apply?

This course is very popular and a high volume of applications are received every year. If you have not or are not predicted to achieve the required academic grades it is very unlikely you will be offered a place on the course. If you do not achieve the required English Language scores you will not be admitted.

I don’t have 2-5 years’ work experience, can I still apply?

As this course is aimed at career profressionals, we are looking for candidates with at least two years professional experience. For exceptional applicants, we will consider less than this but are very unlikely to admit applicants who have not yet completed their Undergraduate degrees.

How do I upload my supporting documents?

Supporting documents should be uploaded via the Graduate Applications Portal, please follow the instructions for uploading documents given in the Portal when you complete and submit your application form.

Which college should I apply to?

The University of Cambridge is a collegiate university, and each college offers an extra dimension to student life. All students are required to be members of a college.

Cambridge colleges are not associated with particular academic disciplines. All teaching for graduate students is provided by the department or faculty, not by the college. You are therefore free to apply to any college you choose. When you are choosing your college, you may like to think about the following questions:

  • Would I prefer an all-graduate college or an undergraduate college with graduate students?
  • How likely is it that the colleges I am considering will be able to provide me with living accommodation?
  • Do the colleges I am considering have large international communities?
  • Are these colleges able to offer travel or other grants?
  • (For women applicants) Would I prefer a women-only college or a mixed college?

When completing the application form for admission, you can indicate two college preferences for college membership or you can make an open application which will allow a computer program to make college choices for you.

The academic decision on whether to recommend you for a place on your chosen course is made by the Department to which you apply, not the college. Your application papers will be sent to the colleges only after a formal academic offer of admission has been made by the Graduate Admissions Office (Board of Graduate Studies).

Can I choose when I start my studies?

All courses start in Michaelmas Term (beginning of October), unfortunately it is not possible to start mid-year.

Is it possible to visit the department?

Whilst we welcome applicants to visit the University, we hope to have provided all necessary information on the website. Therefore we do not encourage applicants to visit the department as we do not want to prejudice the application process.

The department does not conduct interviews for any of the courses. Your application will be considered solely on the materials which you have supplied.

Is it possible to apply for more than one MPhil course?

It is possible to apply for more than one of the MPhil courses that the University offers. However, you will need to submit a separate set of application materials for each programme that you apply for.

Are decisions regarding applications made on a rolling basis?

Decisions on applications are made on a rolling basis, however all applications received prior to the deadline will be given equal consideration.

When will I find out your decision?

Although applications will be considered on a rolling basis, it may be several months before the department makes a decision on your application.


How much will it cost?

You can find full information about course fees on the Graduate Admissions website.

As a graduate student at the University you are liable to pay a University Composition Fee (UCF) and you are also expected to have 'maintenance' funds to support your living costs whilst you are studying.

If you are made a conditional offer of admission to Cambridge, you will need to obtain sufficient funding for the full duration of your course. Evidence of funding is required before your admission to the University can be confirmed. This is known as a financial undertaking. 

Am I eligible for funding?

All successful applicants to the MPhil Public Policy will be considered for financial support from the dedicated MPhil Public Policy bursaries which provide full coverage of tuition.

The funding bodies are separate to the department, your eligibility will be subject to your own circumstances and by the terms of which each body award their scholarships.

The University holds two main funding rounds for all graduate applicants for admittance the following academic year. Please apply by 1st December to be considered for these.

Further details can be found at the Funding section of the Graduate Admissions website.

Please note: if you have missed the deadlines for the main funding opportunities, but would still like to be considered for any departmental bursaries, please ensure that you still tick the appropriate box indicating that you would like to be considered for funding.

EU Applicants after Brexit

  • EU/EEA/Swiss nationals starting a course in England from August 2021 will no longer be eligible for Home Fee status.
  • EEA and Swiss nationals moving to the UK for studies from 1 January 2021 will require a student visa, except Irish citizens who will continue to be able to enter and live in the UK as they do now.
  • What used to be the ‘Tier 4’ immigration route has become the ‘Student’ route. Non-EEA nationals will continue to be issued a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) as evidence of their student immigration permission. EEA and Swiss nationals will be issued a digital status which can be verified online. 

Am I eligible to work during my studies?

The University does not allow Masters students to undertake paid work while they are studying full-time, and you should not expect to accrue additional income in this way.

It is a requirement of the University that all full-time postgraduate students have their funding fully in place before they start their course. Students on one-year courses are not normally allowed to undertake any type of paid work during their period of study.

I have missed the funding deadlines, are there any other opportunities available?

There may be other external funding opportunities, please consult the Cambridge Funding Search for further details.


Who will be my supervisor?

If your application is successful we will search for an appropriate Supervisor, please do not approach potential supervisors yourself.

How many people are accepted onto the course each year?

We aim for 30-40 students each year. 

Can I bring my family?

If you have a dependent partner, or children, you can bring them with you to Cambridge but you should think through the implications before you do so. There will be financial considerations (see below) and you will also have to plan your time very carefully so that no aspect of your life suffers.

Further details please click here.

Do I need to reside in Cambridge for the duration of my course?

If you are accepted for full-time graduate study at the University, you will be required to live in or close to Cambridge for at least the minimum period of study.

This means living within ten miles of the city centre for research students and those taking most other graduate courses.

Can I leave Cambridge during the academic year?

The University year consists of three terms. Term dates are published on the University's website. No full-time student can be a candidate for a Cambridge degree unless he or she has spent at least three terms resident in Cambridge; for a term to be 'kept' a student has to reside in Cambridge for a minimum number of nights (59 for the Michaelmas and Lent Terms and 56 for the Easter Term).

Please click here for Cambridge term dates.

How do I organise my accommodation?

The colleges are able to house many of their full-time graduate students, either in the colleges themselves or in graduate hostels or purpose-built flats. However, few colleges can house all their student members. You may prefer to find your own living accommodation independently of the college, or may have to do so; this can be the case if you come to Cambridge with a partner or children as there is only limited college accommodation for couples and families. If your college is unable to provide accommodation for you, you can get help from the Accommodation Service and the Graduate Union. The Accommodation Service is responsible for letting 360 University-owned properties. These are a mixture of furnished and unfurnished one-, two- and three- bedroom flats and houses located at different sites across the city. Demand for these is high and priority is given to those who are new to Cambridge.

Accommodation Service