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How To Apply

The Money (Fees and Maintenance)

Information on fees for our courses can be accessed via the search facility on the Graduate Admissions pages. 

Graduate Admissions also provide information on maintenance and costs can be calculated with their maintenance calculator

What you need to bring (Eligibility - minimum requirements)

Academic requirements

To study either the MPhil or the PhD in Sociology applicants should have achieved the equivalent of at least a high 2.1 (A-, 3.7/4 GPA) grade in their relevant bachelor or master degree.

To be eligible for PhD studies in the Department of Sociology applicants must have a master degree. Please note that neither the MPhil nor the PhD are conversion courses. You need to have studied sociology or a closely related subject such as political science or economics. Exceptions can be made if sociology and research methods modules were taken during undergraduate studies or master studies respectively.

Students continuing from a Cambridge MPhil onto the PhD in Sociology need to gain at least 70% in their MPhil dissertation and 70% overall.

English proficiency

You will have to fulfill the requirements set by Graduate Admissions.

How to get here (How to apply)

Applications are made via the Graduate Admissions only. Informal applications to the Department cannot be considered.

We recommend that potential applicants take the time to familiarise themselves with the material on the Graduate Admissions web pages in the first instance. This page does only provide additional advice particular to Sociology graduate courses.

The application is done online via the Applicant Portal. Supporting documents are uploaded to this. Please do not send supporting documents to the Department.

Supporting documentation

Research proposal

The research proposal should be around:

  • 1,000 words long for the MPhil application.
  • 2,000 words long for the PhD application.

Special formatting is not required.

The research proposal should contain
•    A clear research question. Give a clear idea of the viability and importance of the research you propose.
•    Methodology by suggesting appropriate research methods.
•    Relevant academic literature (literature review) that describes the viability and importance of the research you propose. The literature review is not included in the word limit.

You may also want to mention your ability and interest in doing the work.



Applications should contain transcripts of ALL previous university studies. It is not sufficient to upload only degree certificates.


Two academic references are required, one of them preferably by the supervisor of the last course studied. For Gates Scholarship funding a third, personal reference is required.

Written work

Applicants may submit written work.


Nominating a supervisor

To speed up the review process it is preferable, for both PhD and MPhil, to name a supervisor on the Applicant Portal. Applicants are welcome to consult the staff pages to find a good fit of supervisor.



Course application deadlines apply as given by Graduate Admissions.

Applicants who want to be considered for University funding must apply by 6 December 2018 to be eligible to be nominated by the Department. US applicants who would like to be considered for Gates US funding must apply by 11 October 2018.


The funding process

Securing funding to support graduate study is a separate (though related) procedure to the academic application. There are a number of funding opportunities available at the University, but all are very competitive. It is not unusual for applicants who are made a conditional offer of a place to find themselves without the necessary funds to actually start their study. Therefore applicants should research funding opportunities outside the University and apply to all funds they are eligible.

The application process is streamlined, so that you are automatically considered for funding if you

  • apply in time for the University funding deadlines given above.
  • ask a referee for one extra reference if applying for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship.
  • tick the boxes on the Applicant Portal relating to the funding for which you would like to be considered/are eligible.

The Department of Sociology is pleased to participate in a new ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership at the University of Cambridge.  A range of studentships are available across the social sciences at Cambridge; if applicants are interested in how society works and how it can handle global challenges, a DTP studentship will give students a world-class training programme, with access to leading international scholars both at Cambridge and other DTPs, and a wide community of fellow social scientists.

If you wish to be considered for ESRC funding you do not need to inform the Department that you wish to do so. You only need to tick the appropriate box on the Applicant Portal. You can find out more about ESRC DTP studentships here:

Alternative sources of funding for Sociology PhD students within the University are the Cambridge Political Economy Society Trust.

Students who tick the funding boxes on the Applicant Portal and whose potential supervisor works at the Woolf Institute are eligible to be considered for funding by the Woolf Institute.



The Department of Sociology has implemented a policy of interviewing candidates before final acceptance by the Department into our MPhil and PhD programmes. These interviews, usually conducted by the prospective supervisor, are intended to further assess the information from the written application to ensure that candidates are indeed well suited to flourish in our graduate programmes. Topics to be covered in interviews will vary depending on such things as the nature of particular candidates’ proposed research projects and their particular academic backgrounds. Candidates need not prepare for these interviews but should anticipate a discussion pertaining to their research proposal and preparation for graduate study in the Department. These interviews also give candidates an opportunity to ask any questions they may have about the University, Department or course.

For more information on the application process please also read our FAQ page.