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Postgraduate Admissions

The MPhil in Biological Sciences provides students with an opportunity to undertake a period of study and research in Biomolecular Science, one of the Faculty’s key research pathways.

Biomolecular science is the study of biological processes at the molecular level, whether within a cell, a tissue, a whole organism or an ecosystem. As such its concepts and experimental approaches are absolutely central to the whole range of present-day life sciences. Biomolecular science is a rapidly evolving field: in the technologies it exploits to understand life at the macromolecular level and in its conceptual advances that drive basic research and support biotechnology applications. By combining traditional areas of science to unravel how molecular machines execute biological processes, biomolecular science transcends boundaries between the single disciplines of biology, chemistry, physics, and computer science.

This MPhil aims to convey a comprehensive understanding of biological processes at the molecular level. We will discuss the major biological macromolecule families, including, DNA, RNA, proteins and lipids. We will explore the properties of biological membranes, biomolecular recognition, signalling and therapeutics. The understanding and application of advanced technologies are crucial to the advancement of biomolecular science and these will be explored in depth. Although we will not focus on specific diseases, the workshops and discussions will include relevant pathophysiological contexts, as understanding the molecular basis of disease will be imperative to developing innovations, from target-based therapeutics to agricultural applications.

The course will draw upon the breadth and international strengths in biomolecular science within the University of Cambridge and associated research institutes; notably the Departments of Biochemistry, Genetics, Pathology, Pharmacology, Physiology Development and Neuroscience, Plant Sciences, Zoology, the Gurdon Institute, the MRC Toxicology Unit, the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, the Sainsbury Laboratory and the Wellcome-MRC Stem Cell Institute.

Completing this MPhil will be a springboard for entry into a wide range of careers, including advanced research in industry or academic settings. 

The MPhil is offered by the Faculty of Biology as a full-time period of study and research and introduces students to research skills and specialist knowledge in Biomolecular Science.

The MPhil course adopts interactive and discussion-based teaching, much of which is seminar-style where student participation and discussion are strongly encouraged. This is complemented with extensive lab-based training during a research project (up to 32 weeks + 6 weeks writing up time) with students integrated into one of the many participating research groups (selected after starting the MPhil, having been introduced to projects and groups). 

The main aims are to give students with relevant experience at the first-degree level the opportunity:

  • to carry out focussed research in the discipline under close supervision; 
  • to acquire or develop skills and expertise relevant to their research interests; 
  • to be introduced to the skills of experimental design, project management and time management that are needed in research; 
  • to become familiar with the practicalities of laboratory research, including record keeping, data handling and professional laboratory    practice; 
  • to learn analytical techniques needed to understand and contextualise their research; 
  • to become familiar with scientific writing and presentation skills. 

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able to demonstrate:

  • advanced knowledge and understanding of the biological and biomedical sciences relevant to the study of their specialisation; 
  • in-depth knowledge of an aspect of their specialisation; 
  • a broad understanding of modern research techniques and thorough knowledge of the literature, applicable to their research topic; 
  • knowledge of the theoretical approaches relevant to their specialisation and training in critical thinking in the area; 
  • expertise in research methods and analysis of research data; 
  • originality in the application of knowledge, together with the practical understanding of how research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the field. 

Continuing

Students wishing to progress to the PhD after completing this MPhil course must apply via the University's online portal.  They will be required to pass the MPhil degree at a sufficient level to satisfy the Postgraduate Education Committee for the Faculty or Department they are applying to, in order to demonstrate that they have the skills and ability to achieve the higher degree.


Open Days

The Postgraduate Virtual Open Day usually takes place at the beginning of November. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions to admissions staff and academics, explore the Colleges virtually, and to find out more about courses, the application process and funding opportunities. Visit the Postgraduate Open Day page for more details.

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Key Information


11 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Faculty of Biology

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2023

Applications open
Sept. 15, 2022
Application deadline
May 16, 2023
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2023

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Jan. 5, 2023
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 12, 2022

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2023, Lent 2024 and Easter 2024.


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