At the start of your MPhil you will receive a letter which will outline when and how you should submit your MPhil Thesis at the end of your course.


The date by which your dissertation has to be submitted for the degree is determined by the University term in which you were admitted:

Admitted in Michaelmas term:           submit by the following 31 August

Admitted in Lent term:                        submit by end of the following Michaelmas term

Admitted for Easter term:                   submit by end of following Lent term

If, as your deadline approaches, you anticipate that you will be unable to submit on time due to grave cause, you must apply for an extension via your self-service account on CamSIS and it will only be considered in very exceptional circumstances.

Format of Thesis

The word limit for the MPhil thesis is 20,000 words, exclusive of tables, footnotes, bibliography and appendices. More information about formatting can be found here.

Intention to Submit

Before you are due to submit your MPhil thesis for examination you will need to submit a an Intention to Submit form on line at: Submitting your thesis – Information for MPhil by Research and PhD students ( 

This should be done approximately 2 months before you intend to submit your thesis.  This application will come directly to the Degree Committee office who will then request examiner nomination from the department.

Electronic submission of thesiss

The above link also provides information for the electronic submission of your thesis.

The examination process

MPhil by Research degrees are 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 course of 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:

  1. If you have time and funding for a further 3 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; or
  1. If you have time and funding for only 2 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 will have to 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 and certainly 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 a number of factors including: evidence of the your progress and research potential; a sound research proposal; the availability of a suitable supervisor and of resources required for the research; acceptance by the Head of your Department and the Degree Committee.

More advice

The Code of Practice sets out the University’s expectations of research students and supervisors; you are expected to make yourself familiar with it.

Further information is also available on the Postgraduate School of Life Sciences website.


Please email the education team if you would like to see some example of MPhil theses from previous students