Research course

Development Studies

University of Cambridge · Department of Politics and International Studies

Entry requirements

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK Masters (Merit).

If your degree is not from the UK, please check International Qualifications to find the equivalent in your country.

Candidates for the PhD are expected to hold a high 2:1 undergraduate degree from a UK university or equivalent GPA of at least 3.7/4.0 or equivalent from a non-UK university; and to have completed (or be about to complete) a Master’s Degree in a relevant subject, with a mark of at least 70, or a GPA of at least 3.7/4.0 or equivalent from a non-UK university. They must also submit a strong research proposal that falls within the research interests of one of the Centre's academics.

Months of entry


Course content

In the first year, all students will take a compulsory Research Methods course. Students are also encouraged to attend a wide range of seminars and other events that are organised by the Centre of Development Studies and departments throughout the University, such as the Social Sciences Research Methods Centre.

The essence of the Cambridge experience, however, is that the PhD candidate works closely with the PhD supervisor. The supervisor will help the candidate develop the thesis project through discussion and the review of draft materials presented by the candidate.

The process of working on the thesis will differ from candidate to candidate, depending on their project, their preferences and the style of supervision adopted. However, in general, it is expected that the first year (or two years in case of part-time students) will be devoted not only to completing the Research Methods modules, but also to the development of a detailed and well-thought-through thesis outline and methodology. In particular, at the outset, the student should devote some time to considering how they will be making an original contribution to the field through their work. The students will be assessed on this before they are approved for PhD status.

It is important to note that the part-time PhD at Cambridge is not a distance-learning course. Part-time students are expected to fully engage with the Department, to integrate into the research culture of the University and to attend the University on a regular basis for supervision, study, skills training, research seminars and workshops.

Part-time applicants from outside the UK should note that visa restrictions may apply, and that not all sources of funding are available to part-time students. It is the responsibility of the student to find out this information.

Information for international students

Language Requirement

IELTS (Academic)

Element Score

Listening 7.0

Writing 7.0

Reading 7.0

Speaking 7.0

Total 7.5

TOEFL Internet Score

Element Score

Listening 25

Writing 25

Reading 25

Speaking 25

Total 110


Score: Grade A & B (overall score of 193, with no element lower than 185 plus a Language Centre assessment)


Score: Grade A, B, or C (with at least 200 with no element lower than 185).

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    part time
    48-84 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    36-48 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details