MPhil in Latin American Studies
- Introduction to the course
- Eligibility for the course
- Course structure and assessment
- Core Course
- Course modules
- How to apply
- Continuing to a PhD
Introduction to the course
Students come to the Centre of Latin American Studies from Britain, Latin America and across the world, attracted by the reputation of Cambridge as a world-class university, and by the rigour and breadth of the MPhil course.
The hallmark of the Cambridge course is the personal attention paid to students' needs: teaching is generally done in small groups and can often accommodate students' own interests. During the preparation of the MPhil thesis you will work closely with a supervisor whose own research expertise lies within your chosen field of study.
Students taking the MPhil in Latin American Studies at Cambridge typically use the course as preparation either for further academic research or for a career in business, government, journalism or the NGO sector.
To be offered a place on the MPhil in Latin American Studies you will be expected to obtain, or to have obtained, a strong Upper Second (generally averaging 68%, or higher) or First Class undergraduate degree, or the equivalent for overseas universities. A background in literature, modern languages, area studies, history or the social sciences is useful but not essential. It is not necessary to have had prior experience in Latin American Studies in order to apply for the MPhil, although you will be expected to provide evidence of interest in or commitment to Latin America.
If you intend to take the literature module (Topics in Latin American Culture), you will be expected to have a good reading knowledge of Spanish before beginning the course. Students wishing to take the module in Latin American Film and Visual Arts should note that not all the films studied are subtitled and you will be required to read critical material in Spanish.
If English is not your native language you will be asked to provide evidence of your level, such as a TOEFL or IELTS score.
The MPhil course of study includes lectures, seminars and individual supervision, with teaching provided by staff based in the Centre of Latin American Studies and in various faculties and colleges across the University. Over the 9-month course you will take a Core Course, two taught modules of your choice and prepare a thesis. Assessment takes the form of three researched essays of 5,000 words each and a 15,000-word thesis (this word count includes footnotes and appendices but not bibliography). The structure of the course and the different forms of assessment used will enable you to acquire a broad, multidisciplinary overview of Latin American Studies, together with a deeper knowledge of two subject areas, and to specialize in one of these for the purposes of the thesis.
In exceptional cases, candidates may be examined for the MPhil on the basis of a thesis of 30,000 words only.
Term One (‘Michaelmas’, October - December)
Students take a Core Course (eight seminars held over the first four weeks of term) and select two options from the list of modules available. Each module is taught by means of a weekly seminar during the last four weeks of this term and continuing into the next. You will be set background reading for each seminar and are expected to participate fully in discussion. In some seminars you may also be asked to prepare a short presentation on the topic. This term’s work is assessed in the form of a 5,000-word researched essay, to be submitted one week after the end of the teaching term. Students choose a title from a list made available, ranging across topics studied for the Core Course and the optional modules. There is provision for students to choose their own title, subject to the approval of a supervisor and the Course Director.
Term Two (‘Lent’, January - March)
Teaching continues as above for both optional modules. Students submit two 5,000-word essays, one for each module, to be submitted one week after the end of the teaching term.
Term Three (‘Easter’, April - June)
Students prepare a thesis of no more than 15,000 words on a topic of their choice, to be handed in by the deadline shown on the course calendar, which will be towards the end of June.
All applications for the MPhil are made online through Graduate Admissions, not directly to the Centre.
Your application form should be accompanied by a thesis proposal of approximately 500 words and a sample of your written work (around 2000 words) from a previous academic course. The deadline for the submission of applications is 30 June 2013. However, if you are applying for funding, please note that many application deadlines are much earlier. US applicants for Gates awards who are not already studying at Cambridge must apply as early as 15 October of the previous year. Those intending to apply to other sources of funds ( AHRC, ESRC, etc.) are encouraged to seek accurate and up-to-date information on application deadlines from the Board of Graduate Studies and the appropriate funding body at the earliest opportunity.
The Centre of Latin American Studies cannot engage in extensive correspondence prior to receipt of a formal application, although students who have already identified a specific research project they wish to undertake as part of the MPhil should check with the Centre that appropriate supervision will be available that year. Ultimate responsibility for identifying a suitable thesis supervisor for each successful applicant lies with the Centre. However, you may, if you wish, identify on the application form a member of staff you would particularly like to work with.
CLAS MPhil admissions enquiries that cannot be directed to Graduate Admissions or answered by the information on this or the Board’s site should be directed to Mrs Lottie Garrett.
Continuing to a PhD
Candidates who achieve an average of 73 (High Pass) on the MPhil course, with a 75 (Distinction) either in the thesis or across the three essays (averaged), may apply to be registered for the PhD. Students who wish to apply for provisional leave to continue to the PhD will be given full information on how to apply during Michaelmas Term. If admitted, they may count their terms spent working for the MPhil towards the residence requirements for the PhD.