The M.Phil.

The Cambridge M.Phil. in Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Studies is an intensive nine-month Masters course, which typically admits between eight and ten students each year. Our students come from a wide variety of academic backgrounds; many of them have gone on to the Ph.D. and successful academic careers. The course involves both independent research and class-based discussion: a willingness to engage intellectually with the other members of the course, while developing your own research interests, is essential to success. Full details of the course can be found here. See also our Blog page for occasional writing by M.Phil. students.

Some comments on the course by previous students

“I had great experience on the MPhil in Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Studies. After finishing a BA in English, I wanted more time to spend deepening my knowledge of this period. The course proved the perfect environment in which to do this, in company with a small but dedicated, fascinating and diverse cohort of fellow students. The weekly seminars in the first two terms enabled us to rapidly widen our reading across a variety of forms, genres and themes. The essays required at the end of each term were a brilliant opportunity to synthesise some of the thinking we’d been doing, while the specific one-on-one tutorials we had with faculty staff meant we were exposed to a range of world-class expertise. Extending across this stimulating programme was the ongoing work of researching and writing the final dissertation – a process that might have been daunting, were it not for the judicious support given throughout the year, the inclusion of successive milestones to ensure ideas were developing at a steady pace, and the relationship we each had with our individual dissertation supervisors. My research on the intellectual background to James Thomson’s The Seasons was hugely rewarding; the freedom and time I had to delve into the material was an intoxicating introduction to the pleasures of professional scholarship. An added bonus of the course was the opportunity for us to organise and run a graduate conference, at which we both delivered papers on our own work and invited speakers from further afield. This provided me with practical experience that helped me go on to a job at the University of Cambridge Museums and a subsequent role as a Development Officer at the Heritage Lottery Fund, positions where I have also been able to bring to bear analytical and research skills developed during my time on the MPhil.”

“The M.Phil in 18th century and Romantic Studies is fast-paced but its intensity is enriched by the diversity of subjects under discussion. We read Diderot’s dialogues, Clare’s ballads, eighteenth-century georgics, and romantic anthologies. Nor was the year strictly bookish. We visited Walpole’s Strawberry Hill and saw Blake’s prints up close. The class on eighteenth-century georgics stimulated my interest in the long poem, and the essay I wrote on Darwin’s Loves of the Plants during the Lent term has turned into a PhD. Currently, I’m in my third year of a D.Phil at New College, Oxford.”

“I took the MPhil as a sabbatical after ten years of working as a theatre director. My worries about going ‘back to university’ as a mature student were unfounded – the nine months of my MPhil (18th C and Romantic) were hugely enjoyable and rewarding. The English Faculty is a friendly and open place, and the course provided a rigorous education and plenty of space to develop my own academic interests. The libraries are outstanding, and even as a confirmed technophobe I found them easy to use, thanks to the kindly staff. The literature of the period opened up as the weeks went by, revealing fascinating texts I’d never even heard of when I began. I ended the MPhil having encountered dozens of writers new to me, and with my academic research and writing greatly enhanced. One of the great pleasures of the MPhil is the diversity of teaching and scholarly approaches; it’s a structured environment in which to find your own academic voice. Since the course, I’ve returned to my day job refreshed and sharper, but I’ve also been lucky enough to do some undergraduate teaching.”

“My time at the MPhil in Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Studies changed how I looked at thought processes and languages. It pulled me deeper into contexts that create a literary text (philosophy, politics, mythologies, readers) and then gave me the vocabulary to dismantle how those contexts may work as undercurrents to a poetic text. It’s a vocabulary that has held me in good stead post Cambridge, whether in job interviews (it’s always easier to answer a question when you can dismantle it into its moving parts) or in the novel I was writing. That novel is now published and I am working on two more. Strangely, the further I believed I was moving away from academia, the more I was returning to it. Cambridge taught me ways of thinking that have become cornerstones to my life, and I am very grateful.”