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Postgraduate Admissions

Course closed:

Stem Cell Biology is no longer accepting new applications.

Specialist postgraduate training in Stem Cell Biology and Medicine is essential to produce a stream of highly skilled and innovative investigators equipped with a deep understanding of stem cell science and its significance for future medicine. In this context, the Wellcome PhD Programme in Stem Cell Biology and Medicine is unique in the UK in focus and scope.

The enduring popularity of the programme, which receives on average 200 applications per year, and the quality of research outputs and next destinations are testament to both the calibre of students we are able to recruit and to the high-quality training they receive. Our programme provides an environment that is intellectually rigorous and personally supportive for students, enabling them to set and attain research objectives. The programme is designed to develop analytical and critically-minded individuals. Since its inception in 2008, the PhD Programme has evolved in response to the expressed needs of students and continuous developments in modern Stem Cell Biology.

Our overarching goal is to produce well-trained and rounded PhD graduates who have generated significant and original research findings and are fully prepared for an ambitious and challenging career, whether continuing in stem cell science or moving to another profession. 

This programme is relevant to prospective students who have not decided on a specific supervisor or do not have their own funding.


Additional (1-2) places are available to applicants with a Physical Sciences, Mathematical or Computational Sciences background, who are interested in applying their training to aspects of stem cell biology

Candidates wishing to apply for this MRC-funded Four-Year (MRes + PhD) Programme: 'The Physical Biology of Stem Cells', must submit an application for the 'MRes + PhD in Stem Cell Biology'. There will be a tick box to specify if you are applying for the MRC Programme instead/in addition to the Wellcome Programme.

The educational aims of the MRes are:

  • to give students with relevant experience at first-degree level the opportunity to carry out focussed research in the discipline under close supervision; and 
  • to give students the opportunity to acquire or develop skills and expertise relevant to their research interests.

Learning Outcomes

The first year of the programme works towards a Master of Research in Biological Science (Stem Cell Biology).  This MRes year is mostly research-based, with some weekly seminars and discussion courses. By the end of this programme, students will have:

  • a comprehensive understanding of techniques, and a thorough knowledge of the literature, applicable to their own research;
  • demonstrated originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in their field;
  • shown abilities in the critical evaluation of current research and research techniques and methodologies;
  • demonstrated some self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and acted autonomously in the planning and implementation of research; and
  • demonstrated ability to effectively communicate their data to their peers, both in the production of high quality written reports and effective and informative oral presentations. 


Continuation onto the PhD in year 2 is  conditional; students must pass the MRes in year one (receiving the Master of Research in Biological Science (Stem Cell Biology)). This final assessment is made at an MRes viva held at the end of year one, where the rotation project reports and a PhD proposal report are discussed at length between the student and internal and external assessors. Continuation recommendations are then passed onto the relevant degree committee for approval.

Open Days

The Open Day usually takes place at the beginning of November. The event is suitable for those considering applying for postgraduate study at the University. It provides opportunities to meet with academics, explore the Colleges, and find out more about the application process and funding opportunities. Visit the Postgraduate Open Day page for more details.

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:

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2020
Application deadline
Jan. 7, 2021
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2021

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

Graduate Funding Competition
Jan. 7, 2021
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 14, 2020

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2021, Lent 2022 and Easter 2022.

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