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This page outlines our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding our postgraduate programmes.

The Sociology Postgraduate Office and the Department as a whole are keen to support our prospective students in gathering the information they need to make an informed application.

If you cannot find the answer to your query in our FAQs (below) or on the postgraduate admissions website (including their FAQs), please contact the Sociology Postgraduate Administration team at

FAQs Last Updated 02/11/2021

Please review the information on our application pages [link]

Should I get in contact with a potential supervisor before I submit my application?

If you are applying to the MPhil, we ask that you do not contact a prospective supervisor directly – please see "Choosing a supervisor" on our application pages [link].

If you are applying to the PhD, you are welcome to contact a supervisor to check whether your project is a good fit with their research interests. However, please do not ask for feedback on your research proposal, or for an assessment of your chances of admission to the programme.

How many available places are there on each programme?

We aim to admit approximately 40 MPhil students and 20 PhD students each year.

My applicant self-service isn’t working, what do I do?

Please report any technical issues to the Postgraduate Admissions Office [link] via their contact form.

I have submitted my application but want to change my choice of college?

You cannot change your choice of College after submitting your application (except in cases where you have obtained funding from another College). Before choosing a College please visit the Postgraduate Admissions page on choosing a College [link] for more advice on choosing the right college for you.

Please review the information on our funding pages [link]

When will I hear if I have received funding from the University?

Successful awardees are informed by University funding bodies. Each funding competition has different release dates, please visit their websites to review their funding timetables; Gates Cambridge [link], ESRC [link], Cambridge Trust [link].

I have made my application after the funding deadlines. Can I still be considered for University funding?

No, if you do not apply by the relevant deadlines you cannot be considered for the postgraduate funding competition.

Are there other funding opportunities after the December funding deadlines?

There may be additional funding opportunities available externally [link] or through the Cambridge colleges [link]. Use the Postgraduate Funding Search to check.


Can I defer admission if I can't take up my place in the year that I apply?

No. PhD applicants may request to defer to Easter or Lent term if they have good reasons. If you wish to be considered for admission in a future academic year, you must make a new application and you must upload all supporting documentation again.

Can I start the MPhil in January or April?

No. All students must begin the the MPhil programme in October.

Can I start the PhD in January or April?

Applicants are asked to apply for entry in October. It is possible to delay PhD entry to January or April, but this is not recommended because most research methods courses and our in-house PhD training start in October.

If I am accepted to the MPhil programme am I guaranteed a place on the PhD Programme?

No, all students must reapply for the PhD Programme. Students continuing from a Cambridge MPhil onto the PhD in Sociology need to obtain marks of at least 70% in their MPhil dissertation and 70% overall. This applies specifically to Cambridge, where the MPhil pass mark is 60% and a distinction is awarded for marks of 75% and over.

Are MPhil students allowed to go on fieldwork?

Many of our MPhil students write dissertations that involve fieldwork. Because the MPhil is an intense 9-month program, most students do not make a special trip to a fieldwork location, opting instead to do remote interviews or to do projects in the areas where they live. No departmental funding is available to assist MPhil students with fieldwork expenses, although funding may be available at some Colleges.


Can I submit non-academic references?

We expect applicants to submit two academic references [link]. If you are applying for a Gates studentship and want to submit a reference from a non-academic referee, please email for approval.

My referees have not uploaded their reference in time. What can I do?

You must make sure that your referees can write and upload references in time. Ask your referees whether they are happy to provide a reference well in advance of making an application and discuss whether they have time to provide a reference prior to any deadlines. If your reference is not completed before the funding deadline you will no longer be eligible for the postgraduate funding competition.


Do you offer a conversion course?

No. Applicants must have an academic background in sociology or a related field.

What is a considered a related field?

Related fields include degrees in the social sciences and humanities; appropriate backgrounds would differ according to your chosen course of study, but could include psychology, politics, economics, social anthropology, media and/or communications with a sociology component.

I am an international student, is my GPA good enough to apply? What is the equivalence to a 2:1?

Please visit the International Qualifications page [link] for guidance on minimum academic requirements. While your Grade Point Average is an important part of your application, it is not the only thing the department considers. We look at the whole application, including your research proposal, previous experience and work history.

Do I need to provide Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test results?

No, the GRE is not used in our admissions process.