MASTER OF PHILOSOPHY IN LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES

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1 University of Cambridge: Programme Specifications Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this programme specification. Programme specifications are produced and then reviewed annually by the relevant faculty or department and revised where necessary. However, we reserve the right to withdraw, update or amend this programme specification at any time without notice. Further information about specifications and an archive of programme specifications for all awards of the University is available online at: MASTER OF PHILOSOPHY IN LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES 1 Awarding body University of Cambridge 2 Teaching institution Centre of Latin American Studies 3 Accreditation details None 4 Name of final award Master of Philosophy 5 Programme title Latin American Studies 6 JACS code(s) T731 7 Relevant QAA benchmark statement(s) None 8 Qualifications framework level 7 (Masters) 9 Date specification was July 2011 last revised 10 Date specification was last reviewed July 2011 Educational Aims of the Programme This course is designed to meet the needs of three groups: those who have developed an interest in Latin America through study or work and wish to develop this for personal or professional reasons, those who intend to proceed to a doctorate, and possibly an academic career in the field, and those whose established work stands to benefit from resources not available to them elsewhere. The course seeks to provide participants with critical understanding of Latin America in all its complexity, and of the means and methods that have been devised to study and understand it better. This is achieved through the three main elements of the course: A core course, highlighting key critical issues in Latin American Studies and providing a forum for interdisciplinary debate; Modules in a range of different fields, of which each student selects two, providing some sense of contrasting methods in distinct disciplines; A thesis of approximately 15,000 words, providing an opportunity to study a topic in depth. The thesis is a very substantial element of the M.Phil. course, and the examination process and criteria for assessment of the thesis are accordingly rather more stringent than on Master s programmes at most other Universities, where (in the UK) the thesis typically represents a quarter of the year s work. In particular, there is a requirement for originality, which must be met either by research using primary sources (documents, interviews, official publications, or the like) or else by developing a distinctive approach to an existing debate or literature. This is consistent with the aim of the thesis, which is to develop advanced skills of research and expression. Page 1 of 5

2 Programme Outcomes By the end of the course students will have developed a critical view of the contribution made by the academic study of Latin America and of some of its specific disciplines to the humanities and the social sciences; become familiar with some of the main themes of contemporary debate; presented their own ideas in a public forum; developed intellectual and practical research skills; tested their ability to produce a piece of advanced scholarship in conformity with the research techniques, standards of argument and accepted style of presentation of an academic discipline. Teaching and Learning Methods The M.Phil course of study includes lectures, seminars and individual supervision, with teaching provided by University Lecturers and by Research Associates of the Centre. Over the course students take a Core Course, two taught modules of their choice and prepare a thesis. Assessment takes the form of three researched essays of 5,000 words and a 15,000- word thesis. The different forms of assessment used, together with the modular structure of the course, enable students to gain knowledge of two subject areas while specializing in one of them for the purposes of the thesis. They also provide a graduated programme which prepares students for the challenge of writing a substantial piece of research at the end of the year, which in turn may act as a foundation for doctoral work. Assessment 1. The scheme of examination for the one-year full-time or two-year part-time course of study in Latin-American Studies for the degree of Master of Philosophy shall, subject to the provisions of Regulation 2 below, consist of: (a) thesis, not exceeding 15,000 words in length, including footnotes, tables, and appendices, but excluding bibliography, on a subject approved by the Degree Committee for the Faculty of Politics, Psychology, Sociology, and International Studies; and (b) three essays, each not exceeding 5,000 words in length, including footnotes, but excluding tables, appendices, and bibliography, on subjects chosen by the candidate, subject to the approval of the Degree Committee, from the following list: 1. Latin-American history 2. Anthropology of Latin America 3. Topics in Latin-American culture 4. Economic issues in contemporary Latin America 5. Sociology and politics of Latin America 6. Latin-American film and visual arts 7. Core course in Latin-American studies 8. A subject in Latin-American studies specified from time to time by the Degree Committee Page 2 of 5

3 2. In place of the examination prescribed under Regulation 1 above, a candidate may, by special permission of the Degree Committee, granted after considering the candidate's experience, special qualifications, and proposed topic, offer a thesis of not more than 30,000 words in length, including footnotes, tables, appendices, and bibliography, on a topic approved by the Degree Committee. 3. The examination shall include an oral examination on the thesis submitted and on the general field of knowledge within which it falls; save that the Examiners may, at their discretion, waive the requirement for an oral examination. In the case of a candidate taking the examination under Regulation 1, such an oral examination may include questions relating to the essays offered by the candidate. Programme Structure The MPhil. takes place over 9 months running from October to June of the following year, but it may also be taken part-time over 21 months. During the Michaelmas and Lent terms each candidate follows two optional modules chosen from the approved list (one module per year in the case of the part-time course) and additionally attends a programme of core course seminars, highlighting key critical issues in Latin American Studies. Examination of the first term s work takes the form of a 5,000-word essay, to be submitted by the end of the week following the end of Full Term in December. During the second term students prepare two further 5,000-word essays (one in each year for part-time), one for each of the modules they are taking. Together the three essays are worth 50% of the total assessment, equally weighted. Initial bibliographical work is also undertaken during the first two terms to refine the topic of the thesis (50%), which is submitted at the end of the third term (sixth term part-time). Progression Requirements The criteria for continuing to the Ph.D. are an overall grade of 73 or above, with a mark of over 75 in either the coursework (the three essays) or the thesis. Requirements for the Award of the Degree The marking scale used for the M.Phil. is similar to that used in a number of Faculties in Cambridge. It is numerical, nominally from 0 to 100, but in line with widespread practice in arts and humanities subjects in British universities, marks are not awarded above a particular threshold, in this case 90. The use of the mark scale can be glossed as below, although the only official grades for the MPhil are fail, pass and distinction. Distinction: A mark of 75+ High Pass A mark between Pass: A mark between Marginal Fail: A mark between Fail: A mark of 57 or under Students are required to pass in both components of the course (coursework and thesis) separately in order to achieve the degree of Master of Philosophy. Coursework cannot compensate for failure in the thesis (and vice versa), although a high performance in one component may compensate in cases of marginal fail in the other. Examining Procedures Page 3 of 5

4 The coursework essays are double marked. All failed essays, all essays on the borderline between Pass, High Pass and Distinction and a selection of other essays are sent to the External Examiner for moderation. The External Examiner s decision is final. The thesis is double marked and oral examinations arranged at the discretion of the examiners (mandatory if a candidate is likely to fail and for the 30,000 word thesis). The External Examiner adjudicates on any significant discrepancies in marks. The External Examiner submits a report to the Vice Chancellor. Student Evaluation Opportunities are provided to discuss progress and any problems. The students are invited to comment on the individual elements of the course at appropriate stages in the year. The results of feedback questionnaires are considered by the Director and, if relevant, the Examiners, and are taken into account when planning course arrangements for the following year. Indicators of Quality Between 11 and 25 students have taken the MPhil course each year in recent years. Typically, each year 1-2 students are funded by the AHRC, 1 by a Gates studentship and 2-3 by the Cambridge Trusts. Every year 3-5 students go on to become successful PhD students, many of whom attract public funding. Learning Support All students are members of a College and have access to learning support from their College, the Centre of Latin American Studies and the other University resources. Staff at the Centre provide an introduction to the University and the resources and facilities available to graduate students, and the students are introduced to the teaching staff of the course and their individual supervisor. An induction programme held at the beginning of the year also covers common issues in making the transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study. Progress is monitored by the Course Director and support and guidance is given by a nominated Course Mentor chosen from the teaching staff at, or associated with, the Centre. Each student is entitled to individual supervision for each essay and for the thesis. The Course Handbook provides comprehensive details of the programme, contact details and academic and general advice. Much of this information is also available on the Centre s website. The Centre has a library located on Mill Lane, with a collection of over 12,000 volumes, and an audio-visual room for student use with a collection of over 500 Latin American films. Students are invited to attend lectures and events organised by the Centre of Latin American Studies and other relevant departments. Evaluating and Improving the quality and standards of learning The Centre of Latin American Studies participates in the University s quality assurance and enhancement system. Academic management of the degree is in the hands of the Centre of Latin American Studies Board of Examiners and the Centre of Latin American Studies Management Committee. The Board of Examiners reports to the Degree Committee. The Page 4 of 5

5 Degree Committee reports to the Board of Graduate Studies and the General Board of the University. Employment and Careers 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. Page 5 of 5

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