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Postgraduate Admissions

The Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience (PDN) offers excellent opportunities and facilities for training in research, leading to the degree of PhD (Doctor of Philosophy).

It is our aim to develop in our students the skills required to submit a satisfactory PhD thesis at the end of three or four years, or part-time over five years. To achieve this, a student will have acquired the essential skills required to design and conduct experiments (including applying for ethics approval where necessary), to analyse results, and to communicate these both in writing and orally. These skills will include those that can be transferred successfully to their choice of academic or other careers.

The PhD at the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience is achieved by supervised research and is under the jurisdiction of the Degree Committee for the Faculty of Biology. The Postgraduate School of Life Science also helps, by providing additional transferable skills training. Within the Department, the internal Departmental Postgraduate Educational Committee is responsible for all aspects of the running of the degree. A suitable project falling within the interests of the supervisor, and sustainable within the limits imposed by the facilities available in the Department, is agreed by both student and supervisor, and endorsed by the Postgraduate Committee at the point of admission. Each postgraduate student has a primary supervisor, who will supervise the main body of their research, and an adviser, who acts as a supplementary source of advice and support.

Students attend a variety of seminars given by distinguished scientists and are also able to present their research by giving seminars at our annual symposium, usually in their first and third years.

The majority of students start in October, but it is also possible to start in January or April. The Department has over 40 potential PhD supervisors. It has a flourishing postgraduate community with over 100 research students. Full information on potential supervisors and research projects can be found on the Postgraduate Education page on the department website. Candidates are required to contact potential supervisors in advance of applying. General enquiries concerning postgraduate opportunities within the Department of PDN can also be directed to postgradinfo@pdn.cam.ac.uk. Initial enquiries should be made as early as possible.


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

5-7 years part-time

Doctor of Philosophy

Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

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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