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Department of Geography


How to apply for a PhD at Geography or Scott Polar Research Institute

How to apply for a PhD at Geography or Scott Polar Research Institute

The Department has a large community of around 80 PhD students working on their own projects. The PhD students at Geography and the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) study a broad range of topics that reflect the diverse interests of the academic staff in the Department.

Read about the work of current PhD students.

Read about the research groups in the Department

Additional project information for: Physical Geography/Environmental Science PhD opportunities

1. Before making an application

Before making an application, you should satisfy yourself that advanced study in your chosen research topic can be supervised by an academic at Geography or SPRI. Acceptance of any applicant will be dependent on specialist supervision being available. Please check the research groups then look through the online staff list.

Identification of a potential supervisor does not imply a guarantee of admission and the full admissions procedure must be followed in all cases. If your potential supervisor's details are available from our website, you may e-mail the person with a draft research proposal (approx. 2,000 words). If contact details are not available, kindly e-mail the Graduate Office Administrator with your research proposal and the name(s) of whom you are trying to contact.

Unfortunately if we cannot supervise your topic, we will decline your application regardless of its academic merit. Therefore, please do make sure there is someone able to supervise you before you apply.

2. Go to the University's Graduate Admissions Prospectus

Go to the University's Graduate Admissions Office Prospectus for Geography and Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) which has all the information you need to make a formal application. Applicants should plan well in advance to ensure their papers can be processed in time.

Formal deadline for PhD in Geography and PhD in Polar Studies:
30th June 2018

Suggested deadline: 30th March 2018 - the Department of Geography strongly encourages early application to the programme with this suggested earlier deadline, to enable you to engage with any potential supervisors.

Cambridge Funding Competitions deadline: 4th January 2018 - to be considered for these, note this earlier deadline. (Some Gates Cambridge Scholarship funding applications are even earlier than this.) Please also note this includes all references which must have been submitted in advance of this funding deadline.

When making the formal application PhD applicants will need to provide a statement (approx. 2,000 words) of your research proposal, including aims and methods, sources and the location of the proposed research. Your proposal should include a list of specific resource needs for your research such as travel budget, fieldwork, laboratory equipment, chemical and IT needs.

Please state in your application which academic in the Department your believe has interests that are closest to your own and therefore might supervise your research.

Physical Geography applicants choosing from the list of topics, do not need to include a research proposal but should include information about why you have chosen a topic and the relevant experience you have for the chosen topic.

3. Funding

There is no major funding available through the department to support your research, although there are limited numbers of modest supports available for fieldwork.

  • All fieldwork, laboratory work, access to data, archives and travel will have to be supported for the length of your study. You should ensure that your funding body provides sufficient support.
  • Overseas applicants should look at the scholarships available at Cambridge. The major scholarships available at Cambridge are Gates Foundation, scholarships administered by the Cambridge Trust, and the Cambridge International Scholarship (CISS). You should apply for these by the advertised deadline when you complete your formal application. They are listed in the University's Graduate Studies Prospectus.
  • UK and EU students should look at the Research Council studentship information and funding via CHESS.
  • You can complete a funding search to help you find your funding options

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