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Centre of Development Studies


Entry Requirements

The MPhil in Development Studies is largely for students with a background in one or more of the social sciences, although many students have had previous degrees in disciplines ranging from the humanities to the natural sciences.

The academic backgrounds of a given intake could include American Studies, Anthropology, Biological Sciences, Business Economics, Business Management, Computer Science, Development Studies, Economics, Economics and Politics, Engineering, English, Finance, History, Information Studies, International Relations, Journalism, Operations Research, Philosophy, Political Science, Public Administration, Public and International Affairs, Quantitative Economics, Social Studies, Social Work, Sociology, Spanish and German, and Urban and Regional Studies.

Those applying to our course must have:

  • Minimum high 2:1 honours from a UK university, 3.7/4.0 GPA or equivalent.
  • For those whose first language is not English and who have not previously studied for a degree in an English language university, evidence of proficiency in English: an IELTS score of 7.5 (with a minimum of 7.0 in each individual component) or a TOEFL score of 110 (with 25 in each element). 
  • You can use this website to find out if a language requirement would be a condition of your offer
  • MPhil candidates are asked not to contact potential supervisors before application. If you are successful in your application the Centre will allocate an appropriate supervisor for you once you have been admitted to the course.

Deadline for 2024 entry is now passed. Dates for 2025 Entry:

  • For 2025 entry, if you wish to be considered for Gates funding the application deadline is Wednesday 11 October 2024 (Time 12:00, noon in local US time zone)  for US citizens resident in the USA. 

  • For all other funding for 2025 entry, including Gates funding for eligible non-US citizens, the deadline is 03 December 2024 (23:59 GMT). Self-funding applicants may also submit for this deadline. 

  • For self-funding applicants, the final application deadline is 25 February 2025 (23:59 GMT).

Please see the Postgraduate Admissions webpage for details.

How do I apply?

All applications are made through the Applicant Portal on the Postgraduate Admissions website. Click here to apply.

Click on the Apply Now button in the How to Apply tab on our page in the Course Directory.

There is an application charge per application (unless you are from a country which is eligible for fee waiver).

You can also apply for funding via the Applicant Portal.

What Supporting Documentation do I need to apply?

1. First Academic Reference and Second Academic Reference

Please see this website for information on who to nominate as your referees, and how they submit their references. Please note that you must secure two academic letters of reference to be considered.

2. Personal Reference

This is only required if you are applying for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

3. Transcript

Please see this website for information on how to upload your transcripts.

4. Evidence of Competence in English if English is not your first language

You do not have to have a language test certificate when you apply. Whilst this is preferable, this can be uploaded during any part of the application process - and if an offer is made, can be included as one of the conditions of admission. You can find the "No Current Language Test Form" on this website.

The same form should also be used when you wish to request a language test waiver - there is an option on the form for this purpose.

5. Statement of Interest

Applicants must complete the statement of intent explaining why they wish to do this course and how it fits into their long-term career plans. This is a maximum of 2500 characters, including spaces.

6. Research Proposal 

The proposal should be 500-800 words long and must include the following: 

  • The topic you wish to research: This explains the background to the topic and the question(s) you aim to investigate. In short, clearly articulate here what you want to research and why. 
  • The intellectual debates and academic literature: which frame the background to the proposed research. This should show some familiarity with existing literatures and how the research will build on them. 
  • The research methodology and methods: This section explains the approaches and tools you will use in your research. It helps show how you plan to answer your research questions. The section can include the main sources you will rely on. 
  • The contribution of the research: How the research furthers a particular argument, critiques an academic position, or fills in a gap in existing research. 

Please make sure to use clear and concise language. There is no need to include full bibliographical material. You may indicate a potential supervisor on your application. Please note that the final decision about allocating MPhil dissertation supervisors resides with the Admissions Committee.

7. CV/Resumé

Uploading Supporting Documentation

Applications will not be considered by the Department until all the documents are uploaded, as Postgraduate Admissions only send them to us once all the documents are present. Incomplete applications will not be considered. We do not chase applicants for missing documents. Therefore, you must submit all required supporting documentation, including references, at the same time as the rest of your application.

It is the responsibility of applicants to ensure that all documents forming part of their application are correct and complete at the point of submission of the application. The department will not permit changes or additions to these documents after application. Additionally, the Admissions Committee will not review any documents which are not listed on the Postgraduate Admissions Office's website as required for the MPhil or PhD in Development Studies.

Incomplete/inactive applications (i.e. those which have been missing documents for a considerable length of time) will be withdrawn by Postgraduate Admissions, and will therefore never reach the Department.

After Applying

There are two deadlines for applications, 05 December 2023 (23:59 GMT) and 29 February 2024 (23:59 GMT). All applications received by the deadlines are considered by the Admissions Committee and we aim to make a decision within 12 working weeks of each deadline. Applicants seeking funding must apply in time for the 05 December 2023 deadline. 


If at any point before, during or after applying you have a question, Postgraduate Admissions run a very comprehensive FAQ page.