skip to content

Postgraduate Admissions


There are four main components of the first year:

1. Core Course

The purpose of the critical discussion course in Stem Cell Biology and lectures in Translational Neuroscience, in year one is to provide students with a critical understanding of the major topics in Stem Cell Biology and Neuroscience.

2. Lab rotations

Each student will rotate in the laboratories of three different contributing supervisors. They will be expected to select their rotations so that they gain experience in at least one clinically oriented lab and one biologically-oriented lab. Each rotation will last for nine weeks, plus three weeks at the end of each, for data analysis and write-up of a project report.  At the end of each rotation, students will write a report and present their work to the PIs of the Centre, and receive feedback on their progress. The Labs that the students can choose from are:

The CCMR4 team (Káradóttir, Coles, Franklin, Zhao, Rowitch, Kotter, Jones & Pluchino) and collaborators (Lakatos, Coleman and Lancaster).

3. Skills courses

Throughout the year there will be a variety of different skills-based courses designed to give training in a variety of technical approaches or to develop specific skills, including workshops on some of the core facilities.

4. Research Project Proposal

Students are expected to choose at least two laboratories for their thesis research towards the end of year one. They will then write a research proposal to form part of the assessment (viva) for a Master of Research in Biological Science. Students will normally then commence a PhD.

One to one supervision

Students can expect to have regular lab meetings with each rotation supervisor and with other lab members, and termly meetings with the centre steering committee. The regularity with which postgraduate students meet with their Supervisor varies throughout the year but meetings are likely to be more frequent to start with, during the planning stages, and during the writing-up phase. All students should have the opportunity to seek formal feedback from their Supervisor, and Supervisors should have the opportunity to give such feedback.

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice for Masters students and for postgraduate students which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision.

Seminars & classes

Approximately six hours per week, including weekly student-only sessions and institute-wide seminars.

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

Students are also encouraged to attend the various research seminars, talks and workshops held in the Jeffrey Cheah Biomedical Centre, on the Biomedical Research Campus and elsewhere within the University.

Small group teaching

Regular lab meetings within the research group.

Journal clubs

One hour per week

Literature Reviews

Part of the core course in year one includes reading of nominated research papers, in preparation for the weekly discussion course sessions.


In year one, students receive formal feedback via written rotation reports, at the annual (MRes + PhD) Programme retreat and from an external assessor via an MRes Viva at the end of year one.

Students will also present and discuss their work in at least one lab meeting per rotation. Additional verbal feedback will be provided frequently by the rotation project supervisor as part of the day-to-day supervision and in regular lab meetings.

For the PhD, students receive feedback regarding their progress in the form of online termly reports (Postgraduate Feedback and Reporting System (PFRS)) from their supervisor.


Thesis / Dissertation

A thesis is not required for the year-one MRes course.

However, if the student progresses to a full PhD they will be required to submit a PhD thesis of not more than 60,000 words (80,000 by special permission) excluding bibliography, figures, appendices etc. 

All students have to defend their thesis by attending a viva voce examination conducted by two examiners. Although the thesis must be the work of the student, the supervisor is allowed to give suggestions, critical advice and feedback on content and any draft version(s) of the thesis. 


Students shall submit a portfolio of research reports (of no more than 20,000 words in total, exclusive of tables, footnotes, bibliography and appendices). This will take the form of three rotation reports of no more than 6000 words each, one submitted each term.

A PhD proposal shall be submitted in the third term of no more than 6000 words (including figure legends, but excluding tables, footnotes, bibliography and appendices).

Practical assessment

Progress will be reviewed annually at the (MRes + PhD) Centre Retreat Day, where each student is expected to present their current research in front of their peers and the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute Postgraduate Education Committee.

Apply Now

Key Information

1+3 years full-time

Doctor of Philosophy
Master of Research in the first instance

Wellcome - Medical Research Council Cambridge Stem Cell Institute

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2022

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2021
Application deadline
Jan. 6, 2022
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2022

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

Graduate Funding Competition
Jan. 6, 2022
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 13, 2021

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2022, Lent 2023 and Easter 2023.