The Department admits graduates to study for research degrees. These include the PhD (requiring a minimum of three years of research), an MPhil in Biological Science (a one-year research-only degree), and an MPhil in Social and Developmental Psychology (a one-year course with taught elements).
Please note that we do not offer:
- Degrees/programmes/courses/training in clinical, counselling, educational, health or sports and exercise psychology.
- Distance learning degrees/programmes/courses/training.
- Exclusively taught postgraduate degrees.
- Psychology conversion courses.
The answers to most of your questions should be found on this page and the pages to the left, or on the University's central Graduate Admissions pages, but candidates with additional questions are invited to contact the Graduate Admissions Administrator.
There is a strong and lively graduate community in the Department, with dedicated study areas, online forums, and support available from academic and administrative staff. About 100 PhD students and 25 MPhil students study at any one time and regular programmes of graduate and staff seminars are held both within the Faculty and in related faculties throughout the academic year.
The academic staff of the Department of Psychology are, both collectively and individually, world-class leaders in the field. Students are encouraged to work on projects and follow topics that are at the cutting edge of new research and policy initiatives.
PhD (Course Code BLPC22)
The PhD degree is a minimum of three years of full-time research with an individual supervisor followed by examination of a research thesis in an oral examination. This is the principal research degree offered in the Department of Psychology and the great majority of our students are registered for this degree.
At the end of their first year of study students are required to complete a satisfactory First Year Report and Viva. A brief report (without viva) is required at the end of the second year and third year.
Most candidates taking this option start in October, to take advantage of Departmental and University induction programmes, but admission in January or April is also possible.
MPhil in Social and Developmental Psychology (Course Code BLPCM2)
The Department offers a one-year Master of Philosophy programme (MPhil) in Social and Developmental Psychology, including a range of taught elements and a research dissertation. It is not necessary to complete this MPhil in order to apply to a PhD, but it does provide an excellent grounding in the research skills needed to succeed at PhD level, and many students progress from the MPhil to the PhD. Other students use the skills acquired to succeed in careers such as health and social care, marketing and public relations, and education.
For more information please see further information.
MPhil in Psychology by Research (Course Code BLPCM1)
The MPhil is one year of full-time research with an individual supervisor followed by examination of a research thesis in an oral examination.
The MPhil is most commonly taken as a stand-alone research degree by candidates with only one year of funding. If this course is taken as part of a route to the PhD a further three years of study and funding are required as well as satisfactory performance in the MPhil. The PhD project may draw on the topic of the MPhil, but the same work cannot be presented for both degrees.
All candidates are expected to take part in the Department’s and the Graduate School of Life Science’s Skills Training Programme. Most candidates taking this option start in October, to take advantage of induction etc, but admission in January or April is also possible.
Candidates who wish to become research students in the Department should usually have a good degree in psychology, neuroscience or in another related subject (for example, physiology, sociology, linguistics, computer science, or engineering), which may provide sufficient background for research in certain areas of psychology, behavioural or cognitive behavioural neuroscience or social and developmental psychology. Experience and/or training in psychology is not always a requirement, but may be advantageous for some research projects.
Graduate work in Cambridge is intense and very intellectually demanding and so the University has high academic entry requirements. You are normally expected to hold or to be about to achieve:
• at least a 2.I honours degree from a UK university
• an equivalent standard from an overseas university (On a 4-point GPA, we require a minimum of 3.5 out of 4)
• a fluent command of the English language
• completion of any current training or education course
You are not required to provide GRE scores.
Coming to Cambridge from the U.S., where science PhDs can take up to seven years, I knew I would have the advantage of an accelerated program. Now looking back on the last two years, I realise just how many opportunities have been open to me that wouldn’t have been available elsewhere.
At Cambridge you hit the ground running, thrown into the research process within your first few weeks. As there is no traditional coursework required, the focus is really on learning by doing. At times this can seem overwhelming, but once inspiration strikes every opportunity is provided to help make your project ideas come to fruition. That’s not to say that the accelerated pace is without its challenges. If you are unsure about your dissertation topic or require a bit more guidance it can be daunting to be in such a self-directed setting without the structure, classes or deadlines of a more typical PhD program. However, the flexibility that Cambridge provides and the opportunities available to students are unmatched, and the collective knowledge and expertise of other members of the department are truly without parallel.
One of the main advantages I’ve found at Cambridge is the collaborative nature that exists between labs and disciplines. The lines between psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience are blurred, and journal clubs, weekly seminars and visiting lecturers help bring the departments together, fostering the feeling of a wider scientific community and engendering discussion and collaboration. This cooperative environment helped encourage me to go beyond the original scope of my PhD and to set up an independent side project outside the immediate focus of my lab, which wouldn’t have been otherwise feasible.The thing that has always struck me most about Cambridge, though, is the passion that everyone brings to their work. Whether it’s seeking advice from professors in the department or chatting with your fellow graduate students at college, the enthusiasm with which everyone speaks about their research is infectious. The atmosphere is one of intellectual excitement and curiosity, and it is this aspect of Cambridge that I find most compelling and inspiring.
Dana Smith, PhD student in the Department, supported by the Cambridge Overseas Trust
Other relevant departments
Please contact the following Departments directly if you are interested in their particular areas of research:
Research in neuropsychiatry (e.g., depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and drug addiction) is carried out in the Department of Psychiatry and within the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute.
Research in several areas of human cognitive neuroscience is also carried out at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit.
Research on ethology and comparative psychology is carried out at the Sub-Department of Animal Behaviour.