I am an MSc Computer Science student in UK. I love to study and I would like to apply for a competitive place. I'm interested in Cambridge PhDs, but I have no previous experience in research (except for the BSc Thesis, which I wrote after a 5-months internship in University).

I've found that Cambridge has an advanced degree, called MPhil, which could work as a starting point for a PhD.

Does anyone here know something about MPhils, and their differences with Masters and PhD? Would it be a reasonable idea to seek for a PhD at Cambridge, spending one year more with a MPhil?

I hope someone can give me some information, Thanks to all,


  • How are your grades? Unless they are excellent, you most probably don't stand a chance in Cambridge.
    – Davidmh
    Dec 7 '15 at 16:05
  • My grades are high. I've obtained the BSc in Italy with 110/110 cum laude (highest grade possible), obtaining the title in advance, two years instead of three... My marks here at the Master are high too but I don't have a transcript yet because the I term has not finished yet...
    – user34884
    Dec 7 '15 at 16:11

The MPhil in Advanced Computer Science is designed as a preparation course for the PhD, so yes, it is absolutely normal to apply for the MPhil with the intention to apply for a PhD while there. Being there also gives you the opportunity to get to know your potential PhD supervisor better. And you can get support from the Computer Lab and your college during the application process.

The degree itself is comparable to a single year of a two year master's programme. I recommend not to just apply "to Cambridge" but to spot the group or even the advisor you would like to work with. The Computer Lab is great for some fields, but not ideal for others, because as any department they cannot have a research group on every subject.

  • Thanks for your answer, I just wanted to understand what the purpose of an MPhil is (somewhere on the Internet people say is for failed PhD applicants). I found myself in a situation in which I love studying and I would like to do research in the future, but I haven't had the opportunity to do it yet, so, my application (and my background) won't be good enough for a PhD there. Also, my interests are too broad and I need to understand what I like most. I will start working on the application now. P.S. Any further suggestion is truly appreciated!
    – user34884
    Dec 7 '15 at 19:15
  • It's fine not to know exactly in advance what you want to do! Just try to submit a consistent module selection. You'll have opportunities to discover research there.
    – pintoch
    Dec 7 '15 at 20:08