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Postgraduate Admissions

Modern genetics research seeks to provide a systems-level understanding of biology by relating genome sequence to function and phenotype. The research in the Department of Genetics covers a wide spectrum of biological problems, united by the application of genetics tools and approaches. Research themes range from understanding basic mechanisms in cell biology relating to the mechanics of division, migration and communication, through the large-scale analysis of genome regulation and epigenetic control, to aspects of population biology focused on issues of ecological and evolutionary significance.

Genetics has evolved beyond its traditional boundaries to become a fundamental part of biology and medicine. The Department reflects this pervasiveness with research interests encompassing several high-impact themes, including functional genomics and systems biology, developmental genetics, epigenetic inheritance, evolution and population genetics, microbial genetics, and cell biology.

The Department of Genetics hosts between 50 and 65 postgraduate students across 25 research groups, researching a wide range of biological problems, from population genetics and ecology to the detailed analysis of genome sequence. The Department is based in a historic building on the Downing Site but has research groups located in the Gurdon Institute and Sainsbury Labs as well as an impressive range of local, national and international collaborations.

PhD students in the Department will undertake three to four years of research under the supervision of one of our group leaders, where they will develop an original research question and address this through laboratory or computer-based research. Research students will develop skills in finding and assessing relevant primary literature, and produce written reviews of the literature throughout their degree and prior to the preparation of the PhD thesis.

Students will undertake specific training in their research area as well as more generic skills training over the course of their research degrees. Supervising undergraduate students is often a rewarding part of the research student experience and opportunities through the Departments teaching portfolio and the College supervision system are widely available. Students are expected to submit their thesis by the end of their fourth year.

Towards the end of their first year of study, students are required to complete a satisfactory first-year report and viva. 

Most candidates taking this option start in October, to take advantage of Departmental and University induction programmes, but admission in January or April is also possible.

Please note: part-time study may not always be viable and will be considered on a case-by-case basis, so please discuss this option with your proposed supervisor before making an application for this mode of study. 


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


3-4 years full-time

Doctor of Philosophy

Department of Genetics

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2020
Application deadline
Oct. 4, 2021
Course Starts
Jan. 5, 2022

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

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2020
Application deadline
Jan. 14, 2022
Course Starts
April 17, 2022

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

Michaelmas 2022

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2021
Application deadline
May 16, 2022
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2022

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

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2021
Application deadline
Oct. 4, 2022
Course Starts
Jan. 5, 2023

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

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2021
Application deadline
Jan. 14, 2023
Course Starts
April 17, 2023

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.


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