skip to content

Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

Biological Sciences is no longer accepting new applications.


This is a research-based programme and there is no formal teaching requirement, though students will be expected to engage fully with the training and events programme provided for BBSRC students throughout the four-years of the PhD. Further details will be available in the student handbook.

All students on this programme 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

All students will be appointed a Supervisor for their PhD project who will give advice, encouragement and constructive criticism to research students. You will meet with your supervisor regularly throughout your PhD; on average students can expect to receive at least one hour of supervision per week. This will, of course, vary by Department and over the duration of the course, with more supervision typically being given in the early stages of the research, and prior to submission.

During the first year, when students undertake rotation projects prior to selecting their PhD project, a “DTP Advisor”  will be appointed .

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


As part of the Cambridge Biosciences DTP Programme, each Standard and Targeted student must complete a 12-week Professional Internship for PhD Students (PIPS). The objective of the PIPS is to give students an opportunity to experience working in a non-academic professional environment and to learn how the skills they have developed during their PhD can be used in a variety of different careers. For students wishing to remain in academia, it provides a chance to understand complementary industries such as scientific publishing, biotech or public policy, which can help them improve the impact of their research, as well as making them aware of alternative career options.


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

Students will receive feedback from their Supervisor and other group members throughout the course, including regular oral feedback and advice from the supervisor about student performance and research direction.  Students can also expect to receive termly formal feedback reports via the online feedback and reporting system.


Thesis / Dissertation

The PhD is assessed via a PhD thesis and a subsequent viva. Thesis word limits and requirements are set by individual degree committees. Further information can be found here:


DTP Standard and Targeted students will complete rotation reports in their first year. 


All PhD students are required to undergo formal assessment (by written report and viva) within 12 months after starting their PhD project (the 'First Year Assessment'). If successful, the student moves from being 'probationary' to being registered for the PhD and can proceed with their thesis project.

Key Information

3-4 years full-time

4-7 years part-time

Study Mode : Research

Doctor of Philosophy

School of the Biological Sciences This course is advertised in multiple departments. Please see the Overview tab for more details.

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

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

Course Funding Deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

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