Michaelmas Term Week 5

Talk: Applying for PhDs

While a few research students come to Cambridge from outside Cambridge, the majority of those who get places to do a PhD here in CMS come from the Part III year.

It is well to recognise that there are inherent and insoluble problems associated with the process of selection of Part III students to continue as research students.  Students need to accept or reject other offers from other universities by May, or even April in some cases.  Cambridge has no vaguely equitable arrangement for assessing a candidate's suitability before the Part III results are posted in the latter part of June.

Solutions to this insoluble problem vary with time and between departments and even between different groups within the same department.  You do need to come to this talk, and you do need to ask people in your field what the procedure is, this year, and for the group you wish to work in.

To help decide which group you might like to work with,  the different research groups have separate presentations.

Research Groups in Cambridge

The graduate students in each research group put together sessions (spread throughout the term) in which they introduce those research students working in the group, and the subjects on which they are working.  This is not a substitute for talking to members of staff, but it is an excellent chance to meet the research students in fields that you are interested in.  These people are a very important resource.  Probably they all took the courses that you are now struggling with.  They probably even did rather well in the exams.  They are the best source of technical advice in your subject, generally having more time to sit down and explain things.  The different group presentations are the occasion to find out who they are.  Make use of them.

Research in UK

We invite students from other universities to come and talk about their research, and we ensure there is a generous tea opportunity, with cakes, to enable you to ask them the questions you need to know answers to (which supervisors in their department are nice, friendly, accessible and have time to spare for their PhD students, for example). We will be asking you to host such of these students as need overnight accommodation. Of course, this is an excellent way of getting a longer opportunity to hear stories about another university.

Requesting additional examination papers

It is possible for students to request additional examination papers in addition to those courses already offered. Usually this will take the form of a reading course, which a member of the department has to supervise and then set an exam on. If you are thinking of this, note that the deadline for the members of the department to request such extra courses is Monday 9th November, so make sure you talk to them before this date so they have time to request it.