skip to content

Postgraduate Study


MPhil students meet regularly as a cohort for taught components. Core Topics in Developmental Biology comprise up to 60 hours of interactive, seminar-based teaching including detailed exploration into some cutting-edge experimental approaches that are instrumental to advancing the field. This is complemented by student-led literature review sessions ("journal clubs"), designed to foster critical analysis and presentation skills via discussion of recent discoveries in the field.

Additionally, training is provided in key professional research and transferrable skills, such as time and data management, laboratory record keeping, research ethics and integrity, scientific communication skills and academic writing, and data analysis skills including statistics.  

All students will be members of the University's Postgraduate School of Life Sciences (PSLS) which offers a wide variety of core skills and professional development training.  Visit the Researcher Development page on the PSLS website for more information.

One to one supervision

Regular meetings with a project supervisor and lab members.  Termly meetings with the programme director or co-director. The regularity with which postgraduate students meet with their project supervisor varies throughout the year but meetings are likely to be more frequent to start with, during the planning stages. On average, students will meet with their supervisor on a fortnightly basis.

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University's expectations regarding supervision.

Seminars & classes

The majority of classroom-based teaching is seminar-style with student participation and discussion strongly encouraged. These sessions will cover a range of relevant experimental model systems, approaches and applications as well as Journal Clubs and comprise up to 60 hours.


Hands-on sessions on fundamental research technologies and approaches (e.g., advanced microscopy or RNA Seq data analysis) will also be available. Practical sessions will include: 

  • 30+ hours of computational and statistics training;
  • 4-6 hours hands-on microscopy or similar skills training
  • 3-4 hours of sessions on communications and outreach
  • 2+ hours on how to make a poster and give a talk
  • 2-6 hours of careers directed sessions
Journal clubs

Journal clubs are conducted as part of the Core Topics interactive teaching.

Literature Reviews

A literature review element will be required as part of both the Extended Essay and the Research Project Report.


All written assessed work for the MPhil is marked by two assessors.  Students can also expect to receive termly formal feedback reports via the online Postgraduate Feedback and Reporting System. 

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University's expectations regarding feedback.


Thesis / Dissertation

A report on the research project, approved by the Degree Committee of the Faculty of Biology, not exceeding 10,000 words in length, including tables, figure legends, and appendices, but excluding bibliography (makes up 70% of the mark).


One essay, not exceeding 5,000 words in length, on a topic approved by the Degree Committee of the Faculty of Biology, excluding tables, figure legends, footnotes, appendices and bibliography (makes up 25% of the mark). 

Written examination

A paper on research techniques and data interpretation (makes up 5% of the mark). 


The examination shall include an oral examination on the work submitted by the candidate and on the general field of knowledge within which such work falls.

Apply Now

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 2024

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
April 24, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

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

Course Funding Deadline
Jan. 4, 2024
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

Similar Courses