Independent Supervision

Super1The supervision option offers you the extraordinary opportunity to work on an independent research project of your own choosing, under the guidance of a Cambridge supervisor who is an expert in the field. For most students choosing this option the supervision is a particularly rewarding part of the PKP experience.

If you take the supervision option you would normally expect to have six individual one-hour supervision sessions over the six weeks of PKP. In advance of each session you would be expected to submit some written work which would then be discussed during the supervision. As a general rule the work you complete for the supervisions will equal at least one third of your PKP workload, and this will normally equate to four essays of around 1,500 words each over the course of the summer. Depending on your interests and the particular subject area you are researching, you and your supervisor may decide that in place of a series of four essays it would be more appropriate for you to work on a longer dissertation (a minimum of 5,000 words).

Super2During your time in Cambridge you will receive a lot of support while doing the supervision option. In advance of your first meeting you will be sent information on the practicalities of completing a supervision project, including a list of topics to be covered in your first session, such as to agree on a provisional title and a plan of work, to decide the method of assessment, and to set dates for the remaining sessions. The Programme Director will also keep in regular contact with you throughout the summer to check on progress, and there will be daily academic advising hours for you to go and get any questions answered.

The supervision is aimed at: Students who are academically driven and self-motivated. The supervision is the perfect opportunity to show how far you have progressed in your studies in a particular field and to produce work that is a testament to the research you are able to do at Cambridge.

Pre-requisite knowledge required: There is a lot of hard work involved, and time management skills are very important as you would be expected to fully invest yourself in your chosen project.

Transferable knowledge and skills The supervision is a fantastic opportunity for you to get a head start on a senior thesis, or area of interest you plan to focus on once you return to your home university.

IMPORTANT If you are interested in doing a supervision you must complete the Supervision Proposal Form available on the online application system and upload it through the online application system. The proposal form requires you to (1) state the working title and subject area of the project; (2) describe the project, its purpose, main ideas, questions and anticipated results; (3) outline any relevant reading or research done or classes taken; and (4) list any books or other sources which may be relevant to the topic. You should normally pick a supervision topic in your major area of study and something therefore you already have some background in. If the supervision topic falls in a newer area of interest for you however then you will need to read two or three relevant publications before filling in the proposal, so you can demonstrate a good knowledge of the subject area you would like to explore in more depth. Please be aware that once you start the supervision the topic will develop and you may end up working on something quite different to what you envisaged at the start, so you should be ready to be flexible and to follow the advice and guidance of your supervisor.

You choose the supervision option when selecting your courses online. There is a non-refundable supplement of £990 charged for the supervision option, in addition to the tuition fee. Please note that once chosen and paid for the supervision option cannot be dropped.

  • Assessment: For students writing a series of four short essays, the grade for the supervision will be based on the two best essays.  For students who write a longer dissertation, the grade will be based on the strength of the dissertation produced.  The grade received for the supervision will be recorded on the PKP transcript.
  • Contact Hours: 6 x 1 hour sessions

Super3The majority of supervision projects fall in the humanities and social sciences, including topics in subjects such as English, History, Politics, Linguistics, Religion and Philosophy, but topics in the Sciences, Engineering, Law, Economics, Finance and Business have also sometimes been possible.  Please note that it is not normally possible to do lab-based science supervisions. For an idea of the range of successful supervision projects, students have worked in past summers on topics as wide-reaching as the mechanisms, treatment and rehabilitation of Bipolar Disorder; the theatricality of Politics; the influences of nutrition on the human microbiome, immune system development and cancer prevention or the philosophical implication of developments in Artificial Intelligence.

While we make every effort to fulfil supervision requests, it is not always possible to do so.  For the supervision to work it is essential for there to be a close match between the your academic interests and those of the supervisor, and we will only proceed with setting up the supervision if we are confident this is the case.  In the event that a suitable supervisor cannot be identified you will have the option of modifying your proposed topic of research, or having the supervision fee refunded and registering for a third course.