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Understanding the Cambridge System

The range of courses and course-types contained within 'Graduate Studies' is hugely diverse, and varies greatly from course to course and faculty to faculty.

Your main sources of direct support, advice and contact will be your Faculty/Department and your college.


Your Faculty or Department is largely responsible for your education and roughly comprises, with some variation, the following roles:

Degree Committee

Each faculty has a Degree Committee, made up of academic representatives of the areas of interest of the faculty, which has oversight of supervision and graduate education and examinations in the faculty. The Degree Committee is responsible for appointing your Principle Supervisor.

Director of Graduate Education (or similar role-holder)

The Director of Graduate Education, supported by the Degree committee, is normally responsible for overseeing graduate degree provision. Among other roles, the Director of Graduate Studies:

  • makes necessary arrangements for academic and administrative facilities for the research students in the institution;
  • works with the Degree Committee to ensure that back-up arrangements are made for absent Supervisors;
  • acts as a first port-of-call regarding any difficulties that cannot be resolved between individuals directly and may act as an
  • intermediary between a Supervisor and student when difficulties arise;
  • arranges for other members of the student's supervisory team, apart from the Principle Supervisor, to be assigned.

Principal Supervisor and Advisor

Each student is assigned an individual who acts as his or her principal supervisor. A second person is also appointed to act in a less formal capacity as an additional advisor/secondary supervisor.

The Board of Graduate Studies (BoGs)

The Board of Graduate studies is the authority ultimately responsible for graduate education at Cambridge. The Board's office (located at 4 Mill Lane, open 10am-4pm Mon-Fri) provides administrative support for the Board, which includes:

  • admitting graduate students and formally registering them for graduate qualifications
  • managing graduate students' progress, reporting (CGSRS), examinations and records (CamSIS)
  • advising graduate students, staff and other interested parties on the University's regulations
  • managing graduate student fee payments, funding and Research Council liaison
  • administration of higher doctorates and the Ph.D. Degree by Special Regulations.


Details to follow