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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 20/10/2021

Please review the information on our application pages [link]

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

You do not usually need to contact your supervisor before making your application. For more information, read the section on "Choosing a supervisor" on our application pages [link].

How many available places are there on each programme?

We aim to admit roughly 30 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?

When you have submitted the application you cannot change your choice of college. Before deciding on a college please visit the Graduate Admission page on choosing a College [link] for more advice on choosing the right college for you.

Please note that the information provided in this section is only for guidance and will be updated as the coronavirus pandemic develops. For more details, please check the University Guidance for postgraduate applicants [link].

How is the programme going to be delivered?

In the academic year 2021-22, the department is pursuing a ‘blended learning’ model that will consist of combinations of online and in-person teaching. For more information, please consult the links below.

Will students be able to access the libraries?

The Cambridge Libraries have developed new zero-contact services [link] to enable students safe access to the texts they need for their studies during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes a carefully controlled collection point at which they will be able to pick up books ordered online, return books to an external drop box, and request digital scans. The University Library [link] and the College libraries are increasingly open for in-person study, although there are some restrictions on numbers and opening hours.

If I receive an offer to study Sociology, will I need to come to Cambridge?

At present, the University’s registration guidance [link] is that students should take up residence in Cambridge and register in person at their college before they can begin their studies. 

However, during the coronavirus pandemic, some exceptions may be made on the grounds of travel restrictions, susceptibility to infectious diseases and health issues. These exceptional circumstances are outlined in the University statement [link]

If you receive an offer to study with us but anticipate that travel to or residency in Cambridge will put you at significant risk, please approach your College in the first instance, which will be able to advise on further steps, including deferral, intermission, or permission to study remotely. 

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].


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

No. 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?

Since the MPhil program is an intense 9-month research/taught program, it is not typical for student to go away on fieldwork. However, you are able to apply, but there is no departmental funding for MPhils to work away.


Can I submit non-academic references?

We expect applicants to submit two academic references [link]. If you have a third reference (for Gates), you must contact the department at for approval of a third non-academic reference.

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, these differ depending on your course of study but include; psychology, politics, economics, 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?

Grade Point Average is an important part of your application, but is not the only aspect the department looks at. We look at the whole application GPA, research proposal, previous experience and work. Please visit the international requirements page [link] for guidance on minimum academic requirements.

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

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

I need to book an English language test, but the test centre in my country is closed - what do I do?

Due to the test centre closures we are now also accepting the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition Test which may be taken at home, subject to eligibility [link]. The online test is the same format and level as the one you would take at a test centre. If you take this test, please upload your certificate in the normal way. If you successfully pass the test at the required level for your course, you will then be assessed remotely by the Language Centre (free of charge) before we complete the English Language offer condition. 

Sociology of Reproduction (MPhil Pathway)

We are no longer offering the MPhil Sociology of Reproduction pathway [link] due to changes in staffing. Applications to this pathway received before 04 Nov 2020 will still be processed and successful applicants will be offered a place on any of the other three pathways [link]. Applications made after 04 Nov 2020 should be made to one of the other three pathways, and students should identify a suitable supervisor who can advise on their research interests as usual.