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Who can apply for a PhD under Special Regulations?

An application can be made by:

A graduate of the University of Cambridge, of not less than six years standing from admission to their first degree (to qualify as a graduate, a candidate must have a degree - qualifications such as diplomas and certificates are not degrees); and who


  • (a) is of not less than six years’ standing from admission to his or her first degree of the University of Cambridge


  • (b) is of not less than six years’ standing from admission to his or her first degree of some other university and has been admitted (i) to some office in the University of Cambridge or to a Headship or a Fellowship of a Cambridge College, and is in the said office at the time of application, and (ii) to the degree of Master of Arts under Statute B II 2 or to a degree of the University by incorporation.

Please note that the term 'admission' to a degree means the date on which the degree was conferred on the candidate, not the date the candidate began the degree.

Graduates who have already been approved for a PhD degree from the University of Cambridge are not eligible to apply.

What evidence is needed?

In order to qualify for the PhD degree under Special Regulations you will need to demonstrate that your published work:

  1. comprises a significant contribution to scholarship through the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, connection of previously unrelated facts or the development of new theory or revision of older views;
  2. provides evidence of the acquisition of knowledge and a detailed understanding of applicable techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry;
  3. is of a quality and quantity equivalent to three years of full-time postgraduate study; and
  4. you meet the eligibility criteria for the degree. In order to check this do please see the regulations below.

Please check the eligibility criteria very carefully. 

How do I apply?

If you meet the eligibility criteria and would like to make an application for a PhD degree under Special Regulations, you will need to submit the following documents to Student Registry at the address on the application form:

How is my application considered?

The Student Registry will acknowledge the receipt of your application, check your eligibility, forward your application to the relevant Degree Committee for consideration (provided you are eligible), and communicate their decision to you regarding whether there is, prima facie, a case for further examination of your work. If so, you will have an oral examination with at least two examiners appointed by the Degree Committee.

Following the oral examination, examiners are asked to make one of two recommendations to the Degree Committee: either that the degree is awarded or it is not.

Examiners submit their pre- and post-viva reports to the Degree Committee who will consider your candidature for the degree at the next available meeting. If further opinion is required, the Degree Committee may appoint further examiner(s).

You will receive confirmation of the official result, and copies of your examination reports, by email from Student Registry shortly after the Degree Committee makes its decision,

Please note that consideration of an application may take longer than a year.