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Postgraduate Study

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

Reproduction has broad relevance because of the way it impacts individuals, families, and populations, and because it raises discussions that span in scope from intimate experiences through to global health policies. Why do so many couples struggle with achieving a healthy pregnancy and why do babies and women still die globally during pregnancy and childbirth? How can we prevent these tragedies from happening? How can we use new discoveries about epigenetics and the developmental origins of diseases to ensure the best health outcomes for future generations? How will novel technologies and changes in the legal frameworks make parenthood more accessible to those who have traditionally been excluded? Is it possible to use germline genome editing – which has the potential to prevent babies from inheriting life-limiting diseases – in a safe and ethical manner? What can we learn about the future of reproduction by studying its history? 

Finding answers to major questions like these requires informed input from diverse disciplines. This MPhil aims to provide comprehensive training in gametogenesis, reproduction, embryogenesis and feto-placental physiology through interdisciplinary taught modules and conducting innovative research projects with the leaders in the field. The course takes a multidisciplinary approach to reproduction through various complementary perspectives and disciplines, including historical, legal, and sociological aspects along with molecular and clinical sciences. 

The course will draw upon the breadth and international strengths in reproduction and embryogenesis within the University of Cambridge and associated research institutes; notably the Departments of Biochemistry, Genetics, Pathology, Pharmacology, Physiology Development and Neuroscience, Sociology, Zoology, the Gurdon Institute, the MRC Toxicology Unit and the Wellcome-MRC Stem Cell Institute.

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 Reproduction and Embryogenesis.

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 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 critically engage with historical, sociological, ethical and legal perspectives on reproductive research, so as to be equipped to consider their research holistically, and interact effectively with individuals, policy makers and the wider society;

to familiarise themselves 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. 


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 end of October. 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.

See further the Postgraduate Admissions Events pages for other events relating to Postgraduate study, including study fairs, visits and international events.

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Key Information

11 months full-time

Study Mode : Taught

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.

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