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How to apply

MPhil Admission Process and Funding Deadlines

Prospective applicants are welcome to contact the MPhil Office in the Centre of African Studies. It can be found on the 3rd floor of the Alison Richard Building, which is located at 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DT. For a map, click here. The administrator of the MPhil is Ms Victoria Jones, who can be reached by email at The MPhil Office telephone number is +44 (0) 1223 334396.  Applicants wishing to visit the Centre, please contact us in advance. More advice on visiting Cambridge is offered by the Cambridge-Africa programme.

In addition to the guidance provided here, applicants are strongly advised to consult the How to Apply information on the Graduate Admissions website:  

Students are admitted to the MPhil in African Studies via application to the Graduate Admissions office of the University of Cambridge. This office is part of the Board of Graduate Studies, and all prospective MPhil students are subject to the general admissions procedures of the Board. For guidance on these procedures, please visit the Prospective Graduate Students homepage, which contains a wealth of information on all aspects of the Cambridge graduate admissions process.

The Centre of African Studies and the Graduate Admissions office work in tandem to process applications. While Graduate Admissions scrutinises each application to ensure that applicants meet the University’s entrance requirements, the Centre assesses each applicant to ensure that they are academically suited to the MPhil in African Studies course and also confirms that appropriate supervision expertise is available. The two processes are then combined and a decision is made about whether the applicant will be offered admission to the University of Cambridge.

To expedite this process, it is essential that applicants upload relevant supporting documents (including transcripts, writing samples and the research proposal), immediately upon completing their application form on the online applicant portal and definitely within 7 days of submitting the application. Applicants can request references before the submission of their application and should do so as early as possible. Also please note that it can take up to 12 weeks (or even longer) for a complete application to be processed for admission to the MPhil African Studies. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that their application for admission to the MPhil African Studies is complete.

When a complete application is received, the Centre of African Studies considers the case for admission on academic grounds. Its decision is communicated to the Graduate Admissions office, which subsequently formally notifies applicants about the outcome of their application. Although we strive to process all applications as quickly as possible, applicants should be aware that the Cambridge admissions system is complex, and a significant period of time may elapse before learning the outcome of their application. Nonetheless, all applicants will be sent an email from the Academic Secretary of the MPhil in African Studies, which provides an informal indication of the academic decision. At this time, applicants will be told the name of the person appointed as their dissertation supervisor, whose task it is to guide students through their studies.

Applicants are encouraged to follow progress via their Applicant Portal. When an applicant is accepted, she or he will be informed by the Graduate Admissions office of the conditions (usually academic and financial) attached to their offer. Admission is only confirmed when the requested documentary evidence is received, and all specified conditions have been met. Applicants are advised to submit all required evidence as soon as possible, in order to avoid delays and to secure their place on the MPhil in African Studies course. Once endorsed by the Graduate Admissions office, applications are considered for College admission. When the evidence concerning the fulfilment of entrance requirements is received, and a College place has been secured, the offer of a place at the University of Cambridge is finally confirmed.

Places on the MPhil in African Studies are limited and the course may be full before the advertised application deadline. Note that most application deadlines for funding opportunities close by January in the academic year preceding entry. For assistance with the application process, please contact the MPhil Administrator: Telephone: +44 (0) 1223 334396
, Email:

Completing the Online Application Form via the Applicant Portal

The online application form is for the most part self-explanatory, but some guidance notes are below:

  • The ‘Course Code’ for the MPhil in African Studies is HUASM1
  • The ‘Programme of study or research area’ is MPhil in African Studies
  • The ‘Department’ is Faculty of Human, Social, and Political Science
  • The ‘Final Award’ is MPhil
  • The ‘Duration’ is nine months

Please enter ‘MPhil in African Studies’ even if the intention is to proceed to PhD study. These details can also be found in the Qualifications Directory.

  • Summary details of research proposal or reason for applying for the course

Provide a concise provisional title for the research project and write a brief summary (about 100 words) of the preferred topic of study.

Applicants are required to submit the following supporting documents as part of their application to the MPhil in African Studies: a research proposal; a writing sample; degree certificates and detailed academic transcripts; English language test results (if applicable); and two academic references.

Start an on-line graduate application

Supporting Documentation

See also guidance from the Graduate Admissions office.

(i) Research Proposal

The application form provides relatively little space for applicants to explain their proposed research project. Consequently, all applicants for the MPhil African Studies are required to provide a longer and more carefully argued statement of intended research on a separate page. This statement is effectively a preliminary research proposal for the dissertation that the applicant intends to write. It should be a detailed statement of 600-1,000 words (2-5 pages) in length, which outlines the area and parameters of the proposed dissertation topic. Applicants should take care that the scope and/or chronological range of their proposal is not too broad, and thus unviable for a nine-month course of study. In addition, applicants should submit a clear, short title for the proposed research topic. Applicants can, if they wish, indicate a particular member of the University by whom they would like to be supervised, although there is no guarantee that this supervisor will be available.

It must be emphasised that the detailed research proposal is an essential part of the application. Applicants are urged to consult their lecturers and advisors at their own university, or work colleagues if appropriate, during the process of preparing it.

(ii) Writing Sample

In order for us to judge the ability of applicants, a sample of written work must be included with all MPhil applications. The writing sample should be no longer than 4,000 words in length. The piece can be an undergraduate essay, or part of an undergraduate or graduate (MA or MPhil) dissertation. If no suitable written work is available from the applicant’s previous university study, an essay written specially for the Cambridge application is acceptable, but this should be clearly indicated. All work must be submitted in English and applicants must declare that the writing sample submitted with their application is substantially their own work.

(iii) Degree Certificates and Academic Transcripts

Copies of degree certificates and transcripts of marks/grades must be supplied with the MPhil application. Applicants are reminded to request a copy of their transcript from their University as early as possible, especially since it can take time to produce transcripts. An official explanation of the mark scheme is also required.

(iv) Evidence of Competence in English

Most non-UK nationals are normally required to upload evidence of their competence in English as a supporting document at the point of application. Details of the requirements are available from Graduate Admissions.

(v) References

Applicants must arrange for two academic references in support of their application to be submitted to the Graduate Admissions office.

Withdrawing an Application

Applicants who decide to withdraw their application, or who cannot meet the conditions of their offer of admission, are requested to indicate this via their online application portal and also to notify the Centre of African Studies.

Please note that should an applicant be unable to take up their offer of admission, they are not permitted to defer or to resubmit their application for admission in the next academic year. Rather, they must reapply for the course and submit their supporting documents again. Be aware that a previous offer does not guarantee that a second offer of admission will be made, nor should applicants assume that the same supervisor will be available, due to patterns of academic leave.

MPhil Office

Centre of African Studies
Alison Richard Building
7 West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DT
For a map, click here
MPhil administrator: Ms Victoria Jones
Tel: +44 (0) 1223 334396