Information for Prospective Research Students

By Teresa Hawkins,2014-07-10 16:51
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Information for Prospective Research Students ...



    F R E Q U E N T L Y A S K E D Q U E S T I O N S

Prospective applicants who have any questions that are not answered

    below may submit their enquiry to


    Q1 How do I obtain the application form?

    A We are delighted that you are considering applying for a research

    course in Law at Cambridge. The University’s Board of Graduate

    Studies co-ordinates postgraduate admissions for all the Faculties and

    Departments across the University.

    Please note that the Board of Graduate Studies accepts applications

    13 months before the starting date of a course, so, for October 2009

    entry, the applications process commences on 2 September 2008.

    We suggest you visit the Board’s website

    where, by following the instructions, you will be able to apply for

    graduate study online (there is an application fee of ?25) or by using

    the paper forms. You may also view the Graduate Studies Prospectus

    or order a paper copy; see

    Prospective applicants without Internet access may telephone, fax,

    email or write to the Board of Graduate Studies’ Admissions Office

    (contact details below) to request a copy of the application form and

    Graduate Studies’ Prospectus:

     The Board of Graduate Studies, 4 Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RZ

    Tel: +44 (1) 1223 760606

     Fax: +44 (1) 1223 338723


    Before applying, you may find it useful to take a look at the Faculty’s

    website at

    where you will also be able to read some general information about

    studying law at Cambridge and download a booklet for prospective

    graduate students.




    Q2 What are your current minimum entrance requirements?

    A The minimum entry requirements for admission to a research course in

    Law (ie. the Diploma in Legal Studies, the Diploma in International Law,

    the MLitt, or the PhD) are:

    ? a First Class degree in Law from a British University, or its

    equivalent from a University overseas, or a very good upper

    second class honours degree in Law with, in addition, an overall

    First or Distinction in a Masters Degree in Law

    ? competence in the English language (see Q26 below)

    ? suitability of proposed research to Cambridge

    ? availability of suitable supervisor at Cambridge

    Q3 As my degree in not graded in the English way, what grades do I

    have to achieve?

    A We are unable to give advice as to the exact numerical grades that an

    application should achieve to be considered the equivalent of a First

    Class. Once your results are received by the University’s Board of

    Graduate Studies, in consultation with the Faculty’s Degree Committee,

    will consider whether your overall academic achievement is such as to

    enable you to cope with a Cambridge postgraduate course. If you are

    unsure how your degree compares with those of the UK universities a

    useful source of information and advice can be found on the web at

    Q4 I am currently studying for an LLM at the University of X and am

    applying for admission to the PhD programme. I have a double

    first class honours degree in Law and Arts from the University of

    Y. Could you please let me know if these qualifications exempt me

    from the usual conditions attached to an offer of a place in the

    PhD programme at the University of Cambridge.

    A Although you have a first-class record from the University of Y, the

    Degree Committee for the Faculty of Law at the University of

    Cambridge is likely to follow its usual practice of requiring a First in

    your LLM at the University of X. This is because, in the past, the

    Degree Committee has taken the view that a candidate’s most recent

    result is the most reliable indicator of current research interest/aptitude.

    For good reason and in truly extraordinary circumstances, eg. serious

    and unavoidable disruption in the taking of your LLM exams, our

    condition of a First might be waived. Then, your excellent record from

    the University of Y may be decisive notwithstanding an understandably

    poor result in your LLM. In view of your record at the University of Y,

    you have every reason to approach the LLM exams with the

    confidence that continued application and hard work will be similarly


Q5 My undergraduate degree was not in Law. I am currently

    registered for a Masters Degree in Law at a British University.

    Am I eligible to apply?

    A Provided you obtain an overall First or Distinction in your LLM, we

    would be willing to consider an application from you.

Q6 I have a First Class degree in Law but did not obtain a

    First/Distinction in my Master’s Degree in Law. Would the lack of

    a First/Distinction in my Master’s prejudice my application to the

    PhD at Cambridge?

    A All deliberations regarding admission to the PhD programme are made

    by the Faculty’s Degree Committee and no indications can be made as

    to acceptability without a complete application. Your existing results

    will not, of themselves, disqualify you from acceptance but rather may

    result in increased scrutiny of other aspects of your application (such

    as your research proposal and references).

Q7 Is someone without a legal background eligible to apply for a

    research course in Law?

    A Save in very special circumstances, we require a First Class degree in

    Law from a British University, or its equivalent from a University

    overseas, or a very good upper second class honours degree in Law

    with, in addition, a First or Distinction in a Master’s Degree in law, for

    admission to the PhD Degree. If you still wish to apply for admission,

    we would request that you include in your application, an explanation of

    why your proposed research is best done at a Law Faculty by someone

    without the legal background we usually require.

Q8 Although I do not meet your minimum entrance requirements, I

    have X years experience in legal practice.

    A Although your work experience would strengthen your application, it

    would only exceptionally be sufficient to compensate for a failure to

    meet our minimum entrance requirements.

Q9 Do you admit part-time PhD students?

    A The Faculty does not currently admit part-time PhD students in Law

    and is not likely to do so in the near future. Faculties and Departments

    throughout the University that do offer part-time research degrees are

    listed on the Board of Graduate Studies’ website at

Q10 I obtained a 2(ii) in my undergraduate law degree. I am currently

    studying for an LLM at the University of X. Is it worth my while to


A The Degree Committee will give the greatest weight to your most

    recent results. Therefore, it would be worth your while to apply if you

    receive your LLM at the University of X with the equivalent of a good


Q11 I wish to apply for a research degree and have obtained both my

    undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Law with good results from

    Japan. I am concerned that, because neither of my degrees are

    from an English-speaking country, my application will be rejected. A It is not as such a disqualification, provided you have excellent results

    from a reputable University. However, the Faculty’s Degree Committee

    is likely to be particularly rigorous with regard to your English language

    test results so as to ensure your English is of a sufficient standard for

    the purpose of study and research at doctoral level in the UK.

Q12 Will my Doctor of Law from the University of X contribute towards

    the likelihood of my acceptance into your PhD programme? A In the past, the Degree Committee has not regarded one doctorate in

    Law as strengthening an application for a second doctorate. Rather,

    members of the Degree Committee would doubt the usefulness of a

    second doctorate in the place of independent research and typically

    reject applications on this basis.

Q13 Is it possible to begin a PhD at the University of X and continue it

    at the University of Cambridge.

    A Yes, it is, but only in exceptional circumstances, for example, if your

    supervisor moves to Cambridge. In such cases, the University may

    agree to grant up to three terms’ exemption from the nine required for

    the PhD on the strength of the work already completed.

Q14 Do you offer specific PhD Programmes eg. in Maritime Law.

    A No, we do not offer specific PhD programmes. The research interests

    of our Faculty members span most areas of Law but are not channelled

    into specific programmes. Please refer to our website


Q15 Will I be registered for the PhD Degree from the outset?

     No, students are registered, in the first instance, for the Certificate of

    Postgraduate Study in Legal Studies which provides training in legal

    research. It is a requirement of the Certificate programme that

    candidates attend the weekly classes provided by the Faculty’s

    Research Training and Development Programme which offers

    instruction on research techniques and advice on matters such as

    getting work published and obtaining academic jobs. Towards the end

    of the first year of research, candidates are required to submit three

    items for a progress review: a personal progress log, a 15-000 word

    dissertation, and a short explanation of the proposed topic of the PhD.

    The work is formally assessed (normally by the supervisor and another

    member of the Faculty) and candidates must attend an oral

    examination. After the oral examination, the Assessors submit their

    reports to the Faculty’s Degree Committee whose members then

    consider whether or not to recommend to the Board of Graduate

    Studies that candidates be upgraded to doctoral status. The date of

    registration to PhD status is normally backdated so as to include the

    year spent working on the Certificate.


    Q16 What is the closing date for applications for the MLitt or the PhD?

    A The closing date for applications for the MLitt and the PhD is 2

    January 2009 for admission in October 2009. Online application

    deadlines are two weeks earlier. IMPORTANT: Please be

    aware, however, that in order to be considered for awards

    administered by the Cambridge Trusts, different deadlines apply

    according to the nationality of the applicant (please see


Q17 What is the closing date for applications for the Diploma in Legal

    Studies and the Diploma in International Law? A The closing date for applications for the Diploma in Legal Studies and

    the Diploma in International Law is 31 March 2009 for admission in

    October 2009, 31 May 2009 for admission in January 2010 and 30

    September 2009 for admission in April 2010. Online applications are

    two weeks earlier. Please be aware, however, that in order to be

    considered for awards administered by the Cambridge Trusts, different

    deadlines apply according to the nationality of the applicant (please



Q18 Is it possible to start a PhD in either January or April?

    A Only in exceptional circumstances would the Faculty admit a student

    for the PhD commencing in January or April. The Faculty’s reluctance

    is as a result of our Faculty’s Research Training and Development

    Programme, which starts in October and which all first-year prospective

    PhD students must attend.


    Q19 What should the research proposal consist of?

    The Research Proposal should consist of the following:

    i) A general statement of the thesis

    ii) An indication of the viability of the proposed research and its

    suitability to be undertaken at Cambridge

    iii) Method to be followed

    iv) Sources to be consulted

    v) Outline of anticipated lines of argument to be


    vi) Concluding summary, with reference to the suitability of

    Cambridge as a place for your research (eg. whether Cambridge

    is likely to have the library resources that you require).

Q20 How long should the research proposal be?

    A The Research Proposal should be between 2,000 and 3,000 words in


Q21 Is it possible for you to send me a sample of a research proposal?

    A No, any particular research proposal is unlikely to be a reliable model

    for PhD proposals in general. For guidance, see the answer to Q19.

Q22 I am a current LLM student at Cambridge and intend to apply for

    the PhD Degree at Cambridge after my LLM. Can I submit the

    same references that I submitted with my LLM application in

    support of my PhD application?

    A It would be advisable to submit up-to-date references that comment on

    your suitability for doctoral research. It is unlikely that your LLM

    references will have focussed upon this.


    Q23 I am interested in applying for the PhD and attach a draft proposal

    in the hope that you will forward it to the relevant person who

    could advise me if they might be interested in supervising it. A In Cambridge, the task of finding a supervisor is not that of the

    applicant, but that of the Degree Committee of the relevant Faculty.

    The Committee considers the question of supervision only once an

    application is actually received. The Degree Committee is not in a

    position to assess research topics reliably before they have been

    chosen by the candidate and rigorously formulated in an application for

    doctoral research. If you wish to determine whether your topic falls

    within the interests/expertise of our Faculty, we suggest that you refer

    to our website (

Q24 I would like to do a PhD in Law at Cambridge and was wondering

    whether you could recommend any Professors in the Cambridge

    Law Faculty whom I could contact prior to submitting my

    application to ask if they would be willing to supervise my


    A Supervisors for PhD candidates who are accepted by the Faculty of

    Law are allocated by the Faculty’s Degree Committee and are not

    nominated by candidates. If you submit a strong application, and the

    Committee are inclined to accept you, it will arrange appropriate

    supervision in consultation with possible supervisors.

Q25 Would you be able to advise me of any topics that you think would

    constitute an interesting research topic for a PhD.

    A The Faculty does not provide prospective students with research topics.

    Your research proposal should be one that you yourself have thought

    up, although you may wish to discuss it with others. It is important that

    you feel very enthusiastic about your proposal so as to be able to

    devote to it the enormous amount of time, thought, and intellectual and

    emotional energy that is required.


    Q26 Do I need to take an English language test before I submit my


    A If your first language is not English, then you should also take a

    language proficiency test. You do not need to take the test before you

    apply, but, if you are made an offer, one of the conditions of admission

    will be that you pass a test at the required level. The Faculty of Law’s

    current requirements are as follows:

     TOEFL: Candidates should obtain a minimum score of 637 in the

    paper-based test with a score of 5.5 in the Test of Written English or

    267 in the computer-based test with 5.5 in the essay writing test, or a

    minimum of 110 in the internet-based test.

     IELTS: Candidates should obtain an overall grade of 7.5 with a grade

    of 7.0 in each other element of the test.


    Q27 Please could you send me details about fees and sources of


    A The most comprehensive information about fees and sources of

    funding can be found in the Graduate Studies Prospectus or online at Applicants

    should also refer to the Faculty’s information booklet, “Sources of

    Funding for Prospective Graduate Research Students” available on the

    Faculty’s website at

     Applicants from every country of the world (except the UK) are eligible

    to be considered for awards offered by the Cambridge Trusts.

    Applicants who wish to be considered for all sources of financial aid

    offered by the Cambridge Trusts will automatically be considered for

    awards for which they are eligible provided they complete the Graduate

    Application Form (GRADSAF Form) and submit two academic

    references and one personal reference.


     Q28 I note that all first year PhD students must attend the Faculty’s

    Research Training and Development Programme in their first year.

    I have already attended a research training course. Is it therefore

    necessary for me to attend the Faculty’s research training

    programme if I am accepted for the PhD?

    A Exemption is only granted when a specialist research methods course

    (and one of comparable quality) has been completed at the University

    of Cambridge or at another University.


    Q29 I am currently doing a PhD at the University of X and would like to

    spend some time in Cambridge as a visiting student. Is this


    A The Faculty of Law is keen to welcome scholars from a wide range of

    jurisdictions. Due to its limited supervision resources, however, the

    Degree Committee for the Faculty of Law is unable to consider

    applications from students who wish to be formally supervised but who

    do not wish to become registered for a Cambridge qualification. If your

    proposed research falls within the remits of one of the Faculty’s

    Centres ( we suggest you contact

    the Administrator of the appropriate Centre to enquire how you might

    be able to visit that Centre on an informal basis. It is also possible to

    apply for temporary permission to use the Library by writing to Mr

    David Wills, Squire Law Librarian, Squire Law Library, 10 West Road,

    Cambridge, CB3 9DZ.

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