Postgraduate Life

Intellectual Life

The Faculty runs a wide range of research seminars, which cover all of the major areas of work (each period has its own seminar; in addition there are normally seminars on literary theory, postcolonial studies, and the history of material texts). These provide a forum for students to hear recent work by scholars in each of these fields, as well as giving a chance for PhD students to give papers on their research.

There is also a Graduate Research Forum, run by postgraduates, which addresses research and career issues. Seminars are often also social occasions, and in normal times many are followed by drinks and dinner to which postgraduate students are invited.

Postgraduate students in the Faculty are also encouraged to explore seminars of relevance in other Faculties and departments, as well as in research centres such as CRASSH.

As a member of the University you will be able to attend any undergraduate lectures which interest you in the English Faculty or other faculties (e.g. History, Philosophy, Modern and Medieval Languages). The start of your postgraduate career is an ideal time to fill in any gaps which you have in your knowledge, or to acquire ancillary skills, such as languages or computing skills, which will help you later in your career. Excellent language laboratories, computing facilities and libraries provide resources for anyone who wishes to develop their knowledge in any of these areas.

College Life

Postgraduate students are required to reside in Cambridge for the duration of their course (three terms for MPhil students and nine terms for PhD students). Students have to be accepted by one of the Colleges before they can come into residence. All postgraduate students are also required to be members of a College. The College offers a centre of social and sporting activity, as well as providing an opportunity to meet postgraduates who work in other fields. As a member of a College, students have access to its library, computing and other facilities. Students are also assigned to a Postgraduate Tutor who will be available to advise on welfare or pastoral matters. The University Counselling service also offers confidential support to postgraduate students.

Your choice of College will have a major effect on the kind of accommodation that you are offered while you are here, and on the facilities which you will be able to enjoy. Some Colleges may also have funds available for attending conferences and similar academic needs. These vary a great deal from College to College, so it is well worth spending some time familiarising yourself with the College listings for further information.

Faculty Support

Three academic officers in the Faculty have particular responsibility for postgraduate students:

  • The Director of Postgraduate Studies oversees the general running of postgraduate courses, and is always available to see students who encounter difficulties or who have queries about their course.
  • The Director of MPhil Studies has particular responsibility for students who are taking one-year courses.
  • The Chair of the Degree Committee has overall responsibility for postgraduate affairs in the Faculty.

In addition to these officers the Faculty has a full-time Postgraduate Coordinator who is a very helpful source of advice and support to students.

Postgraduate representatives on the Faculty Board ensure that the views of postgraduate students are heard in the Faculty, and a Student Consultative Committee meets regularly to discuss matters of concern to students.

The quality of all aspects of postgraduate study is regularly monitored, through questionnaires and small-group consultations.

Faculty facilities

Although postgraduate research revolves around independent study, it needn’t be a solitary experience. The English Faculty building at 9 West Road, a step away from the University Library, provides a place where you can meet and work alongside other English postgraduates.

In addition to the English Faculty library there is a Postgraduate Study Area, with computers and lockers, and a postgraduate common room.

Many lecturers have offices in the faculty building, and the building also houses a drama studio, seminar and supervision rooms, social spaces and the Degree Committee office, which is the first port of call for postgraduate queries.

The faculty also has a number of laptop computers for loan to postgraduate students, and it offers a variety of grants for conference attendance, for fieldwork, and for postgraduate-led academic initiatives.