The MPhil Office
Your main point of contact in the Centre of African Studies (CAS) is the MPhil Office. It can be found within CAS on the 3rd floor of the Alison Richard Building (ARB), which is located on the ‘Sidgwick Site’, an important cluster of University Faculty buildings in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. The street address for the Centre is 7 West Road. The administrator of the MPhil is Ms Victoria Jones, who can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The MPhil Office telephone number is 01223 334396 (or just 34396 if calling from a University network phone).
The Graduate Education Committee
The CAS Graduate Education Committee (GEC) is the body that oversees the running of the MPhil in African Studies, under the ultimate authority of the Degree Committee of the Faculty of Human, Social, and Political Science (HSPS). All members of the GEC are supervisors and/or lecturers on the MPhil programme. In addition, early in Michaelmas term, MPhil students nominate a representative to attend and participate in the GEC meetings (unreserved business only), which occur once a term. The current Chair of the GEC and Academic Secretary of the MPhil in African Studies is Professor Harri Englund, who is a member of the Division of Social Anthropology, Director of the Centre of African Studies and a Fellow of Churchill College. Most GEC members do not have offices at CAS, but are based in their Colleges and Faculties. Professor Englund has his own office within CAS.
The academic year and residence requirement
The academic year in Cambridge is divided into three terms -Michaelmas, Lent and Easter. Term dates can be viewed here.
Please note the residence requirement, which stipulates that most students on full-time graduate courses must live within the University’s precincts for all three academic terms. MPhil in African Studies students are additionally expected to remain in Cambridge for about three weeks after submitting their dissertations, in case an oral examination (viva voce) is required in early July.
Queries? Whom to contact, and when
Normally, you are expected to approach your dissertation supervisor about matters relating to your academic work at Cambridge. You should contact your supervisor to arrange a meeting at the start of the academic year. The MPhil Administrator and MPhil Course Director can also offer general advice on most aspects of the MPhil programme, and you can direct queries about your option course to the relevant lecturer/s. Questions about language training can initially be directed to the MPhil Course Director or, if appropriate, to the Swahili teaching team. We welcome student feedback, and encourage you to let us know your views on the MPhil course via our Student Feedback Form at any point in the academic year.
If you are interested in pursuing doctoral study in Cambridge, you are welcome to discuss your plans with your dissertation supervisor or the MPhil Course Director, and obtain advice about who to approach as a potential PhD supervisor. The Centre of African Studies does not currently offer a PhD programme, but it is certainly possible to pursue doctoral research on Africa-related topics in other faculties and departments across the University, and you are encouraged to explore the PhD opportunities available.
Some administrative matters are dealt with formally, and students may be required to process requests by applying via their CamSIS self-service account (for example, applying to defer submitting your dissertation). Other matters, such as the approval of essay and dissertation titles, and requests for short extensions, are processed directly by the CAS Graduate Education Committee via the MPhil Office. Since this Committee meets only once each term, it is important that you deal with administrative issues in a timely manner and contact the MPhil Office as soon as a query arises. For specific guidance on sources of academic and pastoral support, please read below:
Dissertation supervisor: Your supervisor’s role is to oversee the preparation of your dissertation and to report on your academic progress. He or she also usually acts as your course advisor for the MPhil programme. If you wish to change your dissertation topic this can be permitted, but only if an appropriate supervisor is available and it is not too late in the academic year. In the unlikely event of serious concerns about your MPhil studies or dissertation supervision, please consult our complaints procedure.
Your College: Every student on the MPhil course is also a member of a College. The College is a very important part of life at Cambridge. It allows you to mix with students and academics from many different disciplines; it helps you with accommodation, it provides pastoral support, and makes available additional study facilities (especially libraries and IT services). Colleges also offer their members subsidised meals, as well as sports and social facilities. Your College or Graduate Tutor can offer assistance most non-academic difficulties, whether emotional or practical (everything from accommodation to visas). If you are ill or experience other problems, which might affect the timely submission of your assessed work, you should immediately contact your Tutor, as well as the MPhil Office. Your Tutor and/or medical practitioner may need to write to the CAS Graduate Education Committee for special allowance to be given in such cases.
The Graduate Union: The Graduate Union (GU) is the University-wide representative body for graduate students at the University of Cambridge. Located at 17 Mill Lane, it offers a variety of services, including document binding and gown-hire, as well as a lounge, café, bar, and a shop. A computer and printing room is available too, which offers photocopying, scanning and laminating services. Should you require independent advice about a concern related to your studies in Cambridge, feel free to contact the Student Advice Service, which is based at the GU. You will find further information about the GU on their website.
Counselling services: The University provides numerous points of contact in case you should experience any kind of difficulties. These include your College Tutor, your supervisor, and academic and administrative staff at CAS. However, there may be circumstances in which you prefer to consult someone independent of your daily environment. To meet this need, the University provides a Counselling Service, which is located at 2-3 Benet’s Place, Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1EL. The service is generally available during normal office hours and there may be a waiting period for an appointment, so it is often helpful to consult the self-help resources on their website. Their contact details are: Telephone: (01223) 332 865; Email: email@example.com; Website: www.counselling.cam.ac.uk.
Another service available is Linkline, which is a confidential, anonymous listening support and information service run by students from 7pm to 7am every night during term-time. Linkline can be contacted by telephone (01223 744444), skype (cambridge.linkline), or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Be aware that Linkline is not available during the day or outside of term time. Samaritans run a 24hr, 365 days-a-year service (not connected to the University); they can be contacted on 08457 90 90 90 or emailed at email@example.com.