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Degree Committee for the Faculty of Physics & Chemistry


The ScD (Doctor of Science) and LittD (Doctor of Letters) are the highest degrees awarded by the University for distinguished research in science and literature.

Candidates are required to show 'proof of distinction by some original contribution to the advancement of science or of learning'. This will normally amount to a substantial body of published work accumulated over a number of years in a distinguished career. Where works are published jointly, the applicant's contribution will need to be substantial and stated clearly in the application.

If you are unsure whether or not your work is likely to be sufficient for the degree, you may wish to consult a senior colleague in the field. Please do not seek advice from members of the Degree Committee who will need to reserve their judgement for any formal assessment of the work.


Eligibility criteria
Summarised on the Cambridge Students website and Ordinances Chapter VII


Application and declaration forms
Available in Word and .pdf format on the Cambridge Students website.


The deciding body for the award of the ScD and the LittD is the Postgraduate Committee; the Degree Committee advises the Postgraduate Committee on the result, assisted by assessors and referees who are themselves distinguished workers in the subject area. The summary and list of works are considered by the Degree Committee at the first available meeting and suitable person ('Assessor') will normally be identified to give an opinion on whether or not, prima facie, the application is likely to be suitable to proceed to the full assessment. 

If the application fails at this point, the candidate is informed by the Postgraduate Committee and the majority of the fee will be returned.
If there is a positive report from the prima facie Assessor, the works will be sent to at least two Referees, who are asked to provide their independent opinions on whether the work meets the standard for the Degree.

There is no viva examination. The Degree Committee considers the Referees' independent reports at a meeting and makes a recommendation on the outcome to the Postgraduate Committee. Where the two Referees do not agree, a third Referee is normally appointed. 

In the event of a negative decision, there is no procedure in University Regulations for an appeal or review of decisions in respect of applications for higher Doctors degrees; the decisions of the Postgraduate Committee are final.

Candidates may wish to note that this process, being dependent on the availability of suitable Assessors and Referees, can take several months.


Successful candidates are invited to have the degree conferred at a Congregation at the Senate House. Candidates need to contact their College Praelector or Tutorial Office who will make arrangements for the degree to be conferred. Congregation dates are available here. The Chair of the Degree Committee normally makes the presentation (contact him or her via the DC Office), subject to their availability. Advice on academical dress can be obtained from the suppliers or the College Praelector.

If you can't find the page you are looking for or find a broken link do let us know (please use the email link in the 'Contact us' section below).

Office closures

The Degree Committee for the Faculty of Physics & Chemistry will be closed from 5pm on Thursday 28 March 2024 and will reopen again on Tuesday 2 April 2024.
Research degree theses should still be submitted by your submission deadline even if that falls over the holiday period.