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Frequently asked questions

Approaching graduate study can be daunting. Here is a selection of frequently asked questions, which should help you plan your application and your study.

Should I get in contact with a potential supervisor before I submit my application?

Yes. Prospective PhD and MPhil students must identify a potential supervisor from the Department's website. Go to the Research page to browse our major research themes or view the Academic Staff page for information and contact details of individuals. Prospective Social and Developmental Psychology (SDP) MPhil students should browse our list of potential SDP MPhil supervisors.

If my prospective supervisor tells me that they would like to work with me and encourages me to make an application, does this mean that I will automatically get a place on the course?

No. All applications are considered by the Admissions panel of the Graduate Education Committee, who rank the applications and nominate the strongest ones for funding. Supervisors have only a limited number of places each year, and these will be offered to the strongest applicants.

What if my first language is not English?

You must pass an English test in order to be eligible. This is to ensure that you have the skills to succeed in your course. Specific details are available from the Graduate Admissions website.

How long will it take before I hear about the outcome of my application?

There is a significant amount of processing that has to take place before a decision about eligibility can be made. Graduate Admissions receives applications in the first instance, logs the application details, and forwards them to the Department. The Department must similarly receive and log the application details before applications can be academically assessed. The Graduate Secretary will send an email notification to all applicants to let them know that their application has reached the Department.

Following assessment, a recommendation will then be made by the Department, and forwarded back to Graduate Admissions. Final checks and assessments must be made before Graduate Admissions can send letters of offer. We recommend, therefore, that you allow two months for the assessment of your application.

Is there a danger that I won't be accepted at a college?

No. It is possible that the colleges that you list as preferences will not have any available places, however, there are plenty of places across the 31 colleges for all successful applicants.

How many available places are there on each programme?

There are no definite quotas.

Can I defer admission if I can't take up my place in the year that I apply?

No, unfortunately not. The University does not offer a deferment option. If you wish to be considered for admission in a future academic year, you must lodge another application, but it will not be necessary to send all documentation a second time, as Graduate Admissions keeps all applications on file for a given period of time.

Do I need to provide GRE test results or other test results?

No. The only additional materials required are a research proposal, two academic references (a further reference if you would like to be considered for funding), and transcripts. And if your first language is not English, you need to provide IELTS or TOEFL scores.

Do you offer a conversion course?

No. You must have an academic background in Psychology.

Is the MPhil in Social and Developmental Psychology accredited by the British Psychological Society?


Do I have to apply through the Board of Graduate Studies?

Yes. Informal applications directly to the Department are not possible.

Can I start the MPhil in Social and Developmental Psychology in January or April?

No. The course begins in October and takes nine months.

Can I defer entry to the PhD/MPhil in Biological Sciences by Research to Lent or Easter terms?

Yes, if there are good grounds to do this – some funding agencies don’t make their awards until after 31st July for example, or academic transcripts might be available too late for conditions of an offer to be met in time. If you think that you might need to do this, please contact the Graduate Administrator to discuss your circumstances.

Can I apply to start the PhD/MPhil in Biological Sciences in January or April rather than October?

This is not generally encouraged as it excludes applicants  for competing for funding and attending the induction events at the beginning of the academic year.

However, in extreme circumstances, the Department may be willing to consider such applications. Please contact the Graduate Administrator IN ADVANCE of submitting your application to discuss your options.