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Postgraduate Admissions

The mission of the MRC Toxicology Unit is to deliver field-changing mechanistic insights into toxicology and disease. This is achieved by pursuing an integrated scientific programme, using unbiased systems approaches to examine the effects of exposure to chemicals, radiation and external biological agents. Toxicology research in the Unit impacts on major areas of socioeconomic importance, namely drug development and diseases that result from exposure to both endogenous toxic agents and environmental hazards.  The Unit's overall aims are to carry out pioneering research which leads to improved health and to train and mentor the next generation of toxicologists.

Every year the MRC Toxicology Unit PhD Programme gives new students the opportunity to do cutting-edge research. At the Unit, we aim to train the scientific leaders of the future: we seek the best students, give them rewarding research projects and provide a supportive environment with access to world-class facilities and expertise.

We have an active researchers’ forum, founded and run entirely by our postdoctoral researchers and students, which organises numerous lectures and events specifically for this cohort. 

The course introduces students to research skills and specialist knowledge.  Its main aims are:

  • To give students with relevant experience the opportunity to carry out focussed research in the discipline under supervision; and
  • To give students the opportunity to acquire or develop skills and expertise relevant to their research interests

In addition to receiving outstanding research training pertinent to the topic of the PhD, students will attend excellent core skills training within the Postgraduate School of Life Sciences and the wider University of Cambridge. 

Students receive toxicology-specific training in the Unit and through the Integrated Toxicology Training Partnership (ITTP).  Within the Unit, the students attend the weekly seminar series, which covers a range of topics pertinent to the basic science that underpins modern toxicology research. Students also participate in the programme that is administered by the Postdoctoral and Postgraduate Committee. This programme comprises research talks given by students and early career stage postdoctoral research fellows, workshops on broad topics (eg "how to manage your supervisor", practical grant/fellowship writing etc) and seminars from high-profile external speakers who discuss their research careers, in addition to their science.

Learning Outcomes

The Unit has developed strong links with several pharmaceutical companies (eg Astra Zeneca (AZ) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)). In addition, a wide range of research topics funded by external organisations including programme-level funding from the Wellcome Trust and CRUK and project funding from BBRSC and numerous charities enhances the multidisciplinary and organisational experience of students in the Unit.


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.

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Key Information


4 years full-time

Doctor of Philosophy

MRC Toxicology Unit

Course – related enquiries

Application – related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2021

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2020
Application deadline
June 30, 2021
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2021

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

Graduate Funding Competition
Dec. 3, 2020
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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