INFORMATION FOR PROSPECTIVE RESEARCH
STUDENTS APPLYING FOR ADMISSION IN 2009-10
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 email@example.com.
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 http://www.law.cam.ac.uk/admissions_prospectus.php
where you will also be able to read some general information about
studying law at Cambridge and download a booklet for prospective
NOTE: WE REGRET THAT WE ARE UNABLE TO ACCEPT
APPLICATIONS SUBMITTED BY EMAIL OR BY FAX
ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS /ADMISSIONS
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 Master’s 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.
THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL/REFERENCES
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 (http://www.law.cam.ac.uk).
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.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE TESTS
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.
FEES AND SOURCES OF FUNDING
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
should also refer to the Faculty’s information booklet, “Sources of
Funding for Prospective Graduate Research Students” available on the
Faculty’s website at http://www.law.cam.ac.uk/courses/phd/.
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.
RESEARCH TRAINING COURSE
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 (http://www.law.cam.ac.uk/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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