We offer below some guidance so that your enquiries regarding doctoral work in the field of the Hebrew Bible are focussed and that you develop a realistic sense of what is entailed by doctoral research.
The British PhD
The British PhD is a research degree and the goal is the production of a thesis within 3-4 years of full-time study. The thesis is examined by a viva-voce examination. There are no other forms of coursework and no comprehensive examinations. Skills needed to complete the thesis (such as language competency) need to have been acquired before beginning study, or time found to acquire them during doctoral study.
Research Areas of Interest
Your area of proposed research must align with the research specialisms of your potential supervisor. Read carefully what they say on their staff pages and read their work to have a better understanding of their approaches.
You will need to propose a topic that is suitable for three years’ study. You will need to locate your proposed research within contemporary scholarly discussion, and demonstrate how your research will forward a current debate. Research that strikes out in new directions with no obvious intellectual interlocutors is unlikely to be suitable for doctoral research.When seeking a supervisor, you should send him or her a 1-2 page summary of the proposed research with a further page of indicative bibliography.
Previous Study and Preparation
Cambridge is one of the major international centres for the study of Hebrew and of the Old Testament, and expectations are correspondingly high. You will need to have a very good academic background, and excellent results in your previous studies.
In the initial informal discussions about research supervision, you should indicate how much Old Testament study you have done and where you did it, as well as how much study you have done in other relevant disciplines (New Testament; ANE studies; Judaism; etc.). An indication of what grades you have achieved or are expected is helpful too. We will also need to know what (ancient and modern) language competencies you have, how long you have studied, and the grades you have achieved. In particular you will need to have at least three years study of ancient Hebrew, and reading competency in German or other relevant languages. Your supervisor can advise on what languages you will be expected to know and what study abroad that might expect of you during your PhD.