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Faculty of Philosophy


Prospective Postgraduates: Applications for 2023 opened on Thursday 15th September 2022.

Application for the MPhil  or PhD Degrees 

The Faculty accepts postgraduate students as candidates for the MPhil or PhD degrees. Many postgraduate students start by doing the MPhil. This provides them with a solid background for doctoral research.

All applications must be made via the applicant portal available on the Postgraduate Admissions Office website please read the instructions on this page and in the Course Information for Prospective Postgraduate Students. The latter document also contains information about our course that may help you decide whether it is suitable for you. In reaching your decision on whether to apply you should bear in mind that competition for places is likely to be fierce. Last year we received over 130 applications for the MPhil and over 70 for the PhD.

If you are seeking funding for your course, there are specific deadlines and eligibility criteria for each funding competition. Please check the Funding Overview section of the Postgraduate Admissions Office website (note the FAQs at the bottom of the overview page) as well as the information on funding specific to philosophy here.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants for the MPhil

Your undergraduate degree must include the equivalent of two years' full-time study in philosophy (10 full courses in the US system). Any offer of a place to a current undergraduate will be conditional on achieving a first class degree. However, you may apply if you have already graduated with a good upper second class degree (at least 67%) or the equivalent (US GPA at least 3.6/4), provided that other
aspects of your application (such as dissertation marks) show a strong aptitude for further work in philosophy.

Applicants for the PhD

Your undergraduate degree must include the equivalent of two years' full-time study in philosophy (10 full courses in the US system). We normally expect a first class degree or the international equivalent, but you may also apply if you have graduated with a good upper second class degree (at least 67%) or the equivalent (US GPA at least 3.6/4), provided that other aspects of your application (such as dissertation marks) show a strong aptitude for further work in philosophy.
You must also have or expect to obtain a Master's degree at or close to Distinction level in philosophy or acognate discipline directly relevant to your proposed philosophical research.

Application Deadlines

The deadlines for receipt of completed applications for admission in October 2023 are as follows:

12th October 2022  United States applicants wishing to apply for Gates funding

1st December 2022  Final deadline for all other applicants wishing to apply for funding (including any applications from UK, EU or Overseas students for AHRC/ Gates/CCT funding)

28th April 2023  Final deadline for MPhil applicants only who are not requesting funding

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure that your referees send their references by the due date. The Faculty considers all applications in each group on a gathered field basis, once the relevant course deadline has passed.  

Application Materials 

Applications should be accompanied by two separate pieces of recent philosophical work in English. We recommend that you submit your best work. 

  • Writing samples submitted should be your best, recent, philosophical work.
  • The word count of 3, 000 – 5, 000 words includes footnotes/references, but excludes bibliography.  (An applicant needs to be able to write concisely as well as clearly, so exceeding this limit will harm an application.)
  • Where applicants have shorter pieces of work, we would suggest expanding on them to bring them up to the word limit. If you submit pieces that are slightly under the word count, but are nonetheless strong pieces of work which you feel clearly demonstrate your ability to write well, this would still be acceptable.
  • If you wish to submit an extract from a longer piece of work as one of your writing samples, this is also acceptable, if you make it clear in your application which section you want the assessors to read, up to the 5, 000 word limit. Applicants should however make sure that the section is comprehensible on its own.
  • The purpose of the samples of work is to allow our assessors to see evidence of your ability to put across philosophical arguments. Assessors will be looking to see that you can write concisely and clearly, and will use the pieces of work to gain an impression of your argumentative abilities. Please submit pieces which you think match these criteria.
  • For PhD applicants, it will in addition be of advantage if one of your writing samples is in the proposed area of study. Applicants for the PhD should also submit a detailed research proposal of approximately 500 words as a separate document.
  • For MPhil applicants, assessors are primarily looking for quality of writing. If you are able to submit a high quality piece of work that is also within the area that you intend to continue to work on at Cambridge, that is good, but it’s more important that you submit a high quality piece of work, even if it isn’t in the exact area that you would hope to come here to work on.You should propose an area of philosophy on which they will concentrate their work and indicate whether they intend to study for the PhD in Cambridge thereafter.

Assessment Process

The Faculty of Philosophy Degree Committee will recommend acceptance (usually conditional) or rejection of applications in the light of applicants' academic records, references, submitted work, proposed research and the availability of suitable supervisors. Every effort is made to accommodate students' preferences about supervisors, but this cannot be guaranteed. Applicants applying in October or December 2022 should receive notification of the outcome of their application by the beginning of March 2023. Those applying for the MPhil in April 2023 should receive notification by early July 2023. The Faculty is unable to give feedback on admissions decisions.


Shortlisted PhD applicants will be asked to attend an interview, usually by Zoom, on 10-13th January 2023. MPhil applicants will not normally be interviewed.

Offer-Holders' Event

Applicants who are offered a place on the MPhil or PhD course by March 2023 will be invited to attend an Offer-Holders’ Event on Monday 20th March 2023 in order to learn more about the Faculty and their programme of study.  Invitations to attend this Open Day will be sent out, by e-mail, in early March 2023.This will either be an in person, or online event, depending on what is deemed most appropriate at the time.

Open Day

The Postgraduate Virtual Open Days will take place this year from 31st October -13th November 2022. There will be a live presentation and Q&A session with the Philosophy Faculty on the 31st October 2022.  During the Open Days applicants will be able to access webinars, videos and resources from departments and Colleges. These sessions and resources help applicants to learn more about the courses on offer, hear from students about life as a postgraduate student at Cambridge, discover funding opportunities and explore the Colleges and other University facilities using the 360 photography and videos on the Virtual Tour. Applicants can find more information here about the Postgraduate Open Day and other events. Offer holders, and prospective applicants may also find the Virtual Tour a useful resource.

More details about our MPhil programme can be found here within the School of Arts and Humanities Master’s brochure.