- On this page
- The Supervision System
- The College System
- Supervising and Teaching Undergraduate Students
- An International Community
- Alumni Groups
- Graduate Prospects
As a graduate student at Cambridge you will be a member of a world-leading University, with departments internationally renowned for their research and the originality and significance of the work contributed by their academics. You will receive close individual support from an expert in your field - your faculty or department will assign you a personal supervisor whose role is to guide your programme of study or research. The availability of a suitable supervisor is one of the factors a faculty or department takes into account when considering your application.
Most students studying for a research degree also have a second supervisor or adviser who may be from a different faculty or department (if your research topic requires this). You may also be allocated a mentor. This supporting team monitors your progress and may be involved in your assessment during the first year. Some departments and all Colleges also have a graduate tutor available for personal or professional problem-solving, and for feedback.
Your supervisor completes a report on your progress at the end of each term. He or she will also help you to clarify your ideas; ensure that you recognise and aim to meet the required standard; and point you in the direction of information and resources that should enable you to produce first-rate work. But only you can ensure that you take full advantage of all the educational facilities that are available.
For more information on the supervision system, see the Board's Code of Practice for research degrees. Much of the information contained in the Code of Practice is also relevant to partially taught courses.
Graduate study at Cambridge should be a life-changing experience. Whatever your ambitions for the future, you will benefit from participating here as fully as you can in each of the communities, large and small, to which you belong, and from contributing to the future of the institutions with which your life here is involved. Most of those institutions will sound familiar to you. Departments, Faculties, Museums, Libraries and Laboratories: one or more of these will be where your course is taught, where your research is undertaken and supervised, by specialists in your discipline. But like every Cambridge student and many of the academic staff, you will also be a member of a College, where enthusiasts from every discipline meet and enrich each other across subject boundaries and generations, and you will remain a member of your College for life.
Throughout its history, Cambridge has had Colleges, which are intimate social and intellectual communities of scholars. They are educational charities, each with a particular mission and character, and they have evolved in response to different social pressures. They remain flexible, reacting to the changing needs of their members. But all are devoted to study and research across the range of disciplines and generations. Governed by Fellows, who are mostly academics employed in the University, they remain integral to the University's educational and research environment today. They can offer you a home and other facilities that Universities usually provide centrally. They also give you experiences and opportunities that are unique to Cambridge.
A key element of College life is the Middle Common Room (MCR), a term widely used both for the graduate student body, and for the shared space and associated facilities that graduate students enjoy in College. Using such facilities and participating in your College's graduate society can be rewarding -- and you can make a real difference by ensuring that the College knows about current and future student needs.
Some of the advantages of College membership are material, and obvious. These include induction in your first weeks; on-going academic and pastoral support from your Tutor and Graduate Office; accommodation and catering; financial advice and assistance; social, cultural and sporting facilities; opportunities for research, teaching, and professional development, through interdisciplinary seminars or intergenerational networks of College members. Colleges administer formal processes, including matriculation (formally joining the University and College), monitoring international students' status for visa purposes, and graduation. But they also work closely with the University's central bodies to shape University policy on a range of educational and financial issues affecting graduates, and to negotiate with the University on behalf of their own students.
And some benefits of College membership are intangible, but just as real, and equally indispensable to your experience of Cambridge: conversations and friendships that take you out of your area of expertise and stimulate new ideas; the satisfaction of representing your fellow graduates in College or the University; the excitement of belonging to a truly international group. The friendship and advice individual graduate students find in Colleges make these communities indispensable elements of your Cambridge life.
Research students may have the opportunity to gain supervising and demonstrating experience by undertaking teaching on behalf of colleges and departments. Supervisions involve the teaching of undergraduates in small groups of between one and four students at regular intervals throughout the term. Demonstrating involves helping academic staff in running laboratory classes and various teaching exercises such as drawing or computer-aided process engineering. Such experience can be immensely valuable in developing a wide range of transferrable skills which can be important for future career success, whether in academia or in other fields.
In order to ensure that this teaching does not affect your studies, such work is limited to a few hours a week (generally up to maximum of between 6 and 10 hours), and although the work is paid, it is not sufficient to make any meaningful contribution towards the cost of your studies.
More than half of the University's graduate students come from outside the UK. College and Faculty communities are a diverse mix of ethnicities, cultures, beliefs and views. Students should make the most of the opportunity to interact with fellow graduate students from all parts of the world.
The University's International Student Team provides induction and orientation information and events for new students.
Alumni groups are a useful resource for potential applicants as they can provide information on life as a student in Cambridge. There are 410 volunteer-led Alumni Groups worldwide which offer a wide range of alumni events and initiatives.
Cambridge graduates are highly sought after in the job market, and even in the current economic climate they enjoy strong employment prospects. The table below shows the career destinations of the 2008 cohort of MPhil and PhD graduates.
|Industry||MPhil Graduates||PhD Graduates|
|Number||% of total employed||Number||% of total employed|
|Accountancy and tax||11||3%||1||0%|
|Acturial and insurance||9||2%||1||0%|
|Arts and recreation||7||2%||5||1%|
|Banking and investment||49||11%||26||5%|
|Manufacturing, utilities, power: business||16||4%||5||1%|
|Manufacturing, utilities, power: technical||14||3%||16||3%|
|Publishing and media||11||3%||12||2%|
|Research: social science/humanities||22||5%||88||15%|
|Social, community and charity||25||6%||4||1%|
|Other service industries||24||6%||15||3%|