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How to Apply

We hope that you will find all the information you need about applying to the PhD in Development Studies on this page. However, if you still have a query, please feel free to contact 



Entry Requirements

  • A 2.1 undergraduate degree from a UK university or equivalent GPA of at least 3.60 out of 4.0 or equivalent from a non-UK University
  • A Master’s Degree in a relevant subject, with a Merit overall or a GPA of at least 3.6 out of 4.0 or equivalent from a non-UK University
  • Please consult the Graduate Admissions International Qualifications page to ascertain the international 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). 
  • Candidates should discuss their research proposal with a potential supervisor before making their application. Please visit the academic page for more details about the available Centres' academic staff.  The availability of our staff may change and our website is updated to reflect these changes straight away, so please visit our website regularly, to ensure you have the most up-to-date information. In all cases a suitable and available supervisor must be proposed on the application. Therefore, please stipulate a choice of supervisor on your application, following appropriate research on the most relevant choice.  Please note that applications will be automatically rejected should they fail to propose an available supervisor and/or a research title.  


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

All applications are made through the Graduate Admissions Department Self-Service website. 

When you have completed the necessary preparation and you are ready to begin your online application, you should take note of the following important information before you create your application.

  1. There is an application charge per application. You can make the payment by providing your card details when you submit the online application.
  2. Your application is not complete without the required supporting documentation.

Upload Supporting Documentation

Applications will not be considered by the Department until all the documents are uploaded, as Graduate Admissions only send them to us once all the documents are present. Incomplete applications will not be considered for funding, even if you apply in time. We do not chase applicants for missing documents. 

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

Required Documentation

First Academic Reference
Second Academic Reference

Please see this website for information on who to nominate as your referees, and how they submit their references. 

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


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

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. 

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. 

Research Proposal with Title

An outline (three or four pages) of the proposed research topic, indicating: the background and aims of the research and the methodology and data to be applied (if relevant). This is in addition to information provided on the application form.

Writing sample (not more than 5,000 words)

This could be a published article or an essay from the student's Bachelor or Master programme, where possible relevant to Development Studies.


"It has been almost two years since the murder of Giulio Regeni in Cairo. As we approach this anniversary, we are no nearer to knowing the truth of what happened to this promising post-graduate, tortured and killed while pursuing wholly legitimate academic research... It has been especially troubling to note that, in the absence of apparent progress in investigations into Giulio’s death, attention has been turned to his doctoral supervisor, Dr Maha Abdelrahman – an honourable and distinguished scholar..." Stephen J Toope, Vice-Chancellor. To read the message in full, please go to our News page. The message can also be found on the University of Cambridge homepage.

We are delighted and proud to see that the Centre has gone from no.8 (2015) to no.6 (2016) to no.4 (2017) in the field of Development Studies in the QS Survey. This would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work from everyone within the Centre.