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Postgraduate Admissions

About the Department of Oncology

The Department of Oncology consists of approximately 170 staff and 30 students. We are a multi-site department based mainly in Cambridge Biomedical Research Campus - home to Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, various University of Cambridge Departments, internationally renowned research institutes and several pharmaceutical companies.

Our research focuses on determining the onset of cancer and its progression, with the aim to develop and implement methods for improving the prevention, early detection and treatment of the disease. 

Cambridge's Biomedical Research Campus offers students access to state-of-the-art research and clinical facilities. Additionally, many of our student supervisors are both research group leaders and practising clinicians, facilitating solid links between our laboratory science and its clinical application. During the course, our postgraduate students undertake a research project based on the specific interests of their supervisor. Students also acquire diverse skills: from specialised scientific techniques to personal and professional development, all of which take place in a supportive environment. 

Our postgraduate courses not only help students attain a world-class education but train them to become the next generation of world-class researchers. 

Please visit the Department of Oncology website to find out more about the department and our research interests: https://www.oncology.cam.ac.uk/

4 courses offered in the Department of Oncology

The Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Cambridge Centre is a dynamic collaboration of academic researchers, clinicians, and the pharmaceutical and biotech industries based in the Cambridge area. We combine world-class science and technology with excellent patient care to pioneer new ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer. By working together across different disciplines, we are breaking down the barriers between the laboratory and the clinic, enabling patients to benefit from the latest innovations in cancer science.

The CRUK Cambridge Centre has an innovative MRes/PhD programme, with the aim of training the cancer research leaders of the future across the widest possible range of disciplines working together to make meaningful progress in this challenging and rewarding area.

At the end of the MRes/PhD programme, candidates will be prepared for a career at the forefront of cancer research.  The course design reflects our belief that, for this to happen, students need a much deeper and broader knowledge of cancer biology and its relationship to the clinic, as well as a breadth of experience in experimental work to make an informed choice of research area. 

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The Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Cambridge Centre is a dynamic collaboration of academic researchers, clinicians, and the pharmaceutical and biotech industries based in the Cambridge area. We combine world-class science and technology with excellent patient care to pioneer new ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer. By working together across different disciplines, we are breaking down the barriers between the laboratory and the clinic, enabling patients to benefit from the latest innovations in cancer science.

The CRUK Cambridge Centre's innovative part-time MRes/PhD programme will train the cancer research leaders of the future across the widest possible range of disciplines, working together to make meaningful progress in this challenging and rewarding area.

The course is designed for NIHR Academic Clinical Fellows (ACFs) and the applicant’s Clinical Training Director must be supportive that protected research time can be adapted to suit the MRes programme timetable and requirements. The course does not provide salary, however makes use of the protected academic time allocated to NIHR Academic Clinical Fellows (ACFs).  As this academic time needs to fit around the course, it will require the support of the applicant’s Clinical and Academic Training Programme Director so that protected research time can be adapted to suit the MRes programme timetable and requirements.  The course is also open for part time study for non-clinical MRes students, who will be fully funded by the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre.

At the end of the MRes/PhD programme, candidates will be prepared for a career at the forefront of clinical cancer research.  The course design reflects our belief that, for this to happen, students need a much deeper and broader knowledge of cancer biology and its relationship to the clinic, as well as a breadth of experience of experimental work to make an informed choice of research area. 

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We offer our MPhil degree full-time over 12 months or part-time over 24 months.

This is a research-based degree during which students undertake a research project and produce a thesis.  Assessment is by oral examination based on the thesis and a broader knowledge of the chosen area of research.

Most research training is provided within the structure of the student’s research group and is overseen by their principal supervisor. Informal opportunities to develop research skills also exist through mentoring by other members of staff and fellow students.

All students are encouraged to attend scientific meetings, seminars and postgraduate courses relevant to their area of interest. They are also expected to participate in journal clubs and lab meetings and to take advantage of the numerous and varied opportunities including transferable skills training offered by the University. 

Each student has a principal supervisor and is also assigned an adviser who provides additional support. In addition, our postgraduate student administrator acts as the first point of contact for any student with a query or difficulty that is not directly related to their scientific work.

All student matters in the department are overseen by our Director of Postgraduate Education and the Cancer Biology Postgraduate Education Committee.

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The PhD course is a three to four years full-time, or five to seven years part-time research-based course.

Full-time PhD students are on probation during their first year and must successfully complete their registration assessment before entering their second year; this involves producing a written report followed by an oral examination. Part-time students are on probation for their first two years and should complete their registration assessment before they enter their third year. In addition, full-time and part-time students are also required to produce regular written progress reports.

At the end of their course, students produce a thesis of 60,000 words maximum, followed by an oral examination based on both their thesis and a broader knowledge of their chosen area of research. Students are provided with information which clearly sets out what is expected of them in order to obtain their degree.

Most research training is provided within the structure of the student’s research group and informal opportunities to develop research skills are available through mentoring by other members of staff and fellow students. All students are encouraged to attend scientific meetings, seminars and postgraduate courses relevant to their area of interest. They are also expected to participate in journal clubs and lab meetings and to take advantage of the numerous and varied opportunities including transferable skills training offered by the University. 

Each student is assigned a principal supervisor who oversees their research project and an adviser who provides additional support. Our postgraduate student administrator acts as the first point of contact for any student with a query or difficulty that is not directly related to their scientific work. All student matters in the department are overseen by our director of postgraduate education and the Cancer Biology Postgraduate Education Committee.

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2 courses also advertised in the Department of Oncology

From the Faculty of Clinical Medicine

The Cambridge Medical Research Council's Doctoral Training Programme will be offering five Industrial MRC CASE (iCASE) studentships for doctoral study, to start in October 2023, and these can be based in either the School of Clinical Medicine, or the School of Biological Sciences.

Each studentship is fully-funded for four years with a current stipend of £18,000 p.a., and includes all course fees, plus a research training support grant. 

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From the Department of Medicine

This innovative programme was established in 2002 as a collaboration between the University of Cambridge and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US. Its aim is to train outstanding students in biomedical research, taking advantage of the excellent research environments in Cambridge and the US. Students work on collaborative projects organised by co-supervisors in Cambridge and the NIH, spending two years at each institution. Students have access to all NIH facilities and are paid by the NIH. The PhD is awarded by the University of Cambridge.

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Department Members


Professor Richard Gilbertson
Head of Department

Professor Charlotte Coles
Deputy Head of Department

  • 15 Academic Staff
  • 18 Postdoctoral Researchers
  • 44 Graduate Students

https://www.oncology.cam.ac.uk/

Research Areas