Thesis and Viva Information
At the start of your MPhil, you will receive a letter outlining when and how you should submit your thesis at the end of your course.
Your dissertation deadline is determined by the University term in which you were admitted:
- Michaelmas term: submit by the following 31 August
- Lent term: submit by the end of the following Michaelmas term
- Easter term: submit by the end of the following Lent term
If, as your deadline approaches, you anticipate that you will be unable to submit on time due to exceptional circumstances, you must apply for an extension via your self-service account on CamSIS.
Useful information about putting together your thesis
The word limit for the MPhil thesis is 20,000 words, exclusive of tables, footnotes, bibliography and appendices. More formatting information can be found here.
Self-citing your papers is excellent, and there is no need to edit published papers by yourself unless to fit the format requirements of the thesis, but it should be cited at the start (e.g. “this thesis has been published [in part] as … [papers]”, or “To date, the following publications have arisen in whole or in part from this thesis: [papers]”).
You are required to include a declaration in the preface stating:
“This thesis is the result of my own work and includes nothing which is the outcome of work done in collaboration except as declared in the preface and specified in the text.
It is not substantially the same as any work that has already been submitted before for any degree or other qualification except as declared in the preface and specified in the text.“
Intention to Submit
Before you are due to submit your MPhil thesis for examination, you will need to submit an Intention to Submit form online.
This should be done at least two months before you intend to submit your thesis. This application will come directly to the Degree Committee office which will then request examiner nomination from the department.
The examination process
MPhil by Research degrees is examined by thesis by two examiners, neither of whom is the Supervisor and one of whom, at least, is from outside the University and its approved non-University Institutions, plus an oral examination. You can access departmental VIVA TIPS here.
Relationship to the PhD
MPhil by Research degrees accommodate the needs of students who, for various reasons, have only one year available to them or, alternatively, have only managed to obtain funding for one year. They are not intended to be a probationary year for a three-year PhD study.
However, during the year, circumstances can change and if, for instance, you secure funding for an additional two or three years and you wish to stay for a PhD degree, you can explore two possibilities:
If you have time and funding for a further three years, you may submit a thesis for the MPhil Degree and apply to continue on to the PhD Degree for a further three years; you would be formally examined for the MPhil and, if successful, obtain the degree and continue as a probationary PhD student.
If you have time and funding for only two more years, you can apply through your CamSIS self-service for permission to change your Registration from the MPhil to the probationary PhD. If granted permission to change, you must undergo a formal assessment involving a ‘first-year report’ and an oral exam towards the end of your first year before being registered for the PhD. If you choose to do this, you should apply as early as possible before the stage where Examiners would normally be appointed for your MPhil submission.
Please note that continuation from the MPhil to the PhD or changing registration is not automatic; all cases are judged on their own merits based on several factors including evidence of your progress and research potential; a sound research proposal; the availability of a suitable supervisor and resources required for the research; acceptance by the Head of your Department and the Degree Committee.
The Code of Practice sets out the University’s expectations of research students and supervisors; you must familiarise yourself with it.
Further information is also available on the Postgraduate School of Life Sciences website.
Please email the education team if you want to see examples of MPhil theses from previous students.