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Writing an Academic CV for Postgraduate Courses

Not sure about what to do after your undergrad degree? Want to pursue your subject further? If you’re thinking about postgraduate study, you’re going to have to write an academic CV for your applications. But what is an academic CV, and how is it different from the CV that you’d use to apply for jobs?

The first thing to remember is that there is no page limit for academic CVs. They can be as long as you like! That said, that shouldn’t be an excuse to put anything and everything on there. What you should be trying to do is give the people who look at the applications an understanding of the work you have done in the past, and how this relates to your application for your chosen course. Your academic CV should therefore support your research proposal or personal statement.

It’s really up to you how you organise your academic CV, but you might find these sections help you think about how you can display your work to its best advantage:

Education - your grades and predicted grades to date.

Funding and Awards - list any prizes or scholarships you have won, if any (this can include means-tested awards too!)

Publications - you might not have any publications in journals, but you can create this section using other written work for now, such as newspaper articles, or any online work that may have been published. It’s okay to leave this section entirely!

Academic Research - this is the main section. Here you can describe work you have done, including things like extended essays or dissertations. You can also write about works in progress: ‘This essay will consider…’ Try and talk about the skills that you will be using in these works: will you have to look at manuscripts? Will you have visited an archive, or have you done this in the past?

Teaching - again, you might not have this section, but people who have had other careers (i.e. being a teacher!) might have relevant material to put here. Have you done any tutoring or mentoring?

Other Relevant Experience - here it can be useful to put down other things you have done which might be tangentially related to your research or course. What jobs have you had? Have you done any volunteering or internships? What skills did these experiences help you to develop?

As you can see, these headings encourage you to write about more than your grades, which only the first heading is really concerned with. You can choose to prioritise sections too, or rearrange the whole thing depending on the course or uni that you're sending your application to.

Best of luck!

Ellen B. Brewster is a DPhil student in English Literature at Oxford.

@_ellenbrewster on Twitter and Instagram

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