The MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History is aimed at students who have an interest in both the theory and history of political thought (including those wider intellectual idioms which provide the context for its development). It also welcomes students whose previous study had a more specialised historical or theoretical (or philosophical) bent, provided that while doing this course they are willing to engage themselves with both approaches to research.The MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History is aimed at students who have an interest in both the theory and history of political thought (including those wider intellectual idioms which provide the context for its development). It also welcomes students whose previous study had a more specialised historical or theoretical (or philosophical) bent, provided that while doing this course they are willing to engage themselves with both approaches to research.
This MPhil attracts students from all over the world, and its training provides an ideal foundation from which to proceed to doctoral research, not only in the United Kingdom, but in North American, European, Asian and Southern Hemisphere university systems.
Priority is given to the pursuit of the individual student’s research: all examined work derives from this research. Classes are provided in Methodology, in the reading of selected texts, and in selected concepts: these are intended to be ‘exemplary’, offering opportunities to explore different methods used in the field, different approaches to reading texts, and a variety of political concepts. Work done in classes is not examined.
The MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History offers students a rounded and flexible Masters programme that provides them with an introduction to all three of the fields contained within its scope (History of Political Thought, Political Theory, Intellectual History), while allowing them to specialise in their own area of particular interest. It offers a thorough training in the key techniques of higher-level academic study and research.
The MPhil is inter-Faculty: History, Politics, and Classics are the participating departments. The teaching staff, and examiners, have diverse disciplinary backgrounds, as do students on the course.
After completion of the MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History, students should have:
1. acquired an enhanced understanding of the history of political thought as well as an appreciation of the broader theoretical approaches and intellectual idioms that inform its study. 2. acquired the analytical capacity to pursue independent study of primary texts in the history of political thought and to evaluate the findings of secondary commentators 3. acquired the ability to situate their own research findings within the context of previous and current interpretative scholarly debates in the field of political thought and intellectual history
The course comprises two kinds of work: group study and individually tailored supervised research training. Both persist simultaneously throughout the year, so that students are expected to attend the course classes, research seminar, and lectures while at the same time researching their essays. While there are no fixed course classes in Easter Term when students will be concentrating on their dissertation, they will be required to present their work at a Dissertation Seminar and encouraged to continue attending lectures and the research seminar. Postgraduate students in Cambridge are expected to work continuously throughout the year with the exception of a few days’ break at a time, so that the ‘vacation periods’ are in fact periods in which required work must be completed.
Students will receive the following feedback:
- oral supervision feedback - writen termly CGSRS reports - written essay feedback - oral dissertation workshop feedback - formal written feedback from two examiners after the submission and examination of their dissertation.
A thesis of 15,000 - 20,000 words is submitted at the end of the course. An oral examination will only be required in cases where one of the marks is a marginal fail.
Two essays of not more than 6,000 words each, one submitted at the end of Michaelmas Term, the second at the end of Lent Term. These essays constitute Part I of the MPhil, and contribute to the final overall mark.
In order to be considered for continuation to the PhD, and always subject to satisfactory supervision arrangements being in place, students are expected to obtain an overall mark of 70 for the MPhil and a mark of at least 70 for their dissertation.
Please see the Faculty website for more information: