Department of Engineering / Postgraduates / Applying Postgraduate Study / Applying for research courses

Department of Engineering

Applying for research courses

Applying for research courses

All applications are made online via the Postgraduate Admissions website. The links below will take you to the course pages, where you can click the Apply Now button to start an application. It is worth starting an application early, so that you can see what information you will need to provide.

MPhil in Engineering

PhD in Engineering

Before you apply

As a research student in the department you will have a supervisor for the duration of your studies. Prior to making an application we recommend the you carefully consider your area of interest, and review the research group pages on our website to identify an academic member of staff whose research interests match your own and who could supervise your research project. You will be asked to name at least one potential supervisor on your application form.

We strongly encourage you to try and make contact with your potential supervisor in advance, to discuss your research ideas before submitting an application. However it is not possible for all supervisors to respond to all emails from potential applicants, and some times of year are busier than others, so you should not necessarily be deterred from applying, or naming a particular supervisor on the application form, if you do not get a response from them.

For applicants considering the MPhil in Engineering, making contact with potential supervisors is particularly important, as many supervisors do not accept MPhil students, and MPhil applicants are therefore unlikely to be accepted unless they have provisionally found a supervisor before applying.

If you are unable to find an appropriate supervisor, as an alternative you can state the research group that you wish to work within, so that your application can be directed to an appropriate member of staff. The links below will take you to the research groups pages for each of the six academic divisions listed:

Energy, Fluid Mechanics and Turbomachinery

Electrical Engineering

Mechanics, Materials and Design

Civil Engineering

Manufacturing and Management

Information Engineering

Supporting documentation

In addition to the application form, you will need to upload the following to the Application Portal:

  • Details of two academic referees,
  • All degree-level academic transcripts,
  • CV/Resume,
  • Reasons for applying (2500 characters) This is an opportunity to say more about yourself, your background, and your reasons for wanting to study Engineering research course at Cambridge.
  • Research Proposal (optional) If you wish, you may submit a longer proposal giving more detail about your intended subject of research. This proposal should be concise and efficient, but the Department does not impose a precise word limit.
  • Evidence of competence in English (if required and available),
  • A personal reference and statement (Gates funding applicants only).


Please note the following are the application deadlines, if you wish to be considered for funding please note that the deadlines are much earlier.

Programme 2023/24 funding deadline October 2023 application deadline January 2024 application deadline
MPhil in Engineering 1 December 2022 16 May 2023 N/A 
PhD in Engineering 1 December 2022 16 May 2023 4 October 2023

Note that the funding deadline given here is for the Cambridge Trusts. Other funding sources may have earlier or later deadlines. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are aware of any relevant deadlines.

What happens after applying?

Your application will not be considered until it is complete, including all supporting documents and two references. You can check whether your references have been submitted via the Application Portal and send reminders to your referees if they have not yet completed them. It is your responsibility to ensure that both of your references have been submitted by the course (or funding) deadline.

When the application is complete, it will be referred to the department for a decision. Completed applications will be reviewed by an academic members of staff (in the first instance this is usually, but not always, the potential supervisor that you have named on the application form), who will decide whether to invite you for an interview (either in person or remotely, by phone or video-conference).

When a decision has been made (either by a supervisor to accept you, or by at least two academic members of staff in your research area not to accept you), it needs to be approved by the head of the academic division within the department, and the Deputy Head of Department (Graduates), before your application status is updated. After this, you will either be notified that if your application has been unsuccessful, or, if a supervisor wishes to make you an offer and this has been approved within the department, the application will be reviewed by the Degree Committee and then the Postgraduate Admissions Office, before an offer is issued. You can track your application as it progresses through these stages via the Applicant Portal, and offers are issued by email. Further information can be found on the Postgraduate Admissions website.

When will I receive a decision?

All applications for the research programmes are considering on a rolling basis throughout the year.

We aim to make decisions as quickly as possible, however the time for academic staff to make decisions can vary depending on their workload, which fluctuates throughout the year. We receive an extremely high volume of applications immediately before the Cambridge Trusts funding deadline, and it can take several weeks for staff to review all of these and record decisions, so delays are particularly likely between December and February.

If you have not named and/or discussed your research project with a potential supervisor in advance, delays may be more likely, as your application may need to be reviewed by multiple academic staff members before a suitable supervisor is (or is not) identified within the department. Supervisors are only permitted to supervise a limited number of students, so individual supervisors may wait to have a gathered field before reaching a decision.

Staff in the Engineering Graduate Studies Office follow up on the progress of applications where no decision has been made on a regular basis, however if you have been waiting longer than you expected, you are welcome to contact us.