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Postgraduate Admissions

The Department of Zoology brings together researchers from a great diversity of disciplines, ranging from cell biology to field ecology. What unites us is an interest in the whole organism, and in how systems interact across different levels of organisation to generate the complexity of form, function and behaviour that is observed in the living world. Evolution is a theme that underpins and unites much of our work, as does an appreciation of the interaction between living organisms and their environments.

We offer both research MPhil (duration of one year) and PhD (three to four years) degrees. 

The PhD degree is a minimum of three years of full-time research with an individual supervisor. At the end of their degree, students will produce a written thesis, which will be assessed by independent experts, and examined with a viva. This is the principal research degree offered in the Department of Zoology and the great majority of our students are registered for it.

Students are supervised by by at least one member of academic staff who is an expert in the student's field of study.  Supervisors support students in developing an independent and novel project in their field of interest. Students will learn how to review relevant literature, to phrase and answer scientific questions, and how to report their findings to the scientific community, at conferences and through peer-reviewed scientific publications. We very much encourage students to get experience in undergraduate teaching, which can be either as demonstrators during practical classes or supervisors teaching small groups. 

At the end of their first year of study, students are required to complete a satisfactory first-year report and viva. A brief report (without viva) is required at the end of the second year and third year.

All candidates are expected to take part in the Department’s Postgraduate Training Programme and the Postgraduate School of Life Science’s Researcher Development Programme.

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.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the 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; and

  • demonstrated some self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and acted autonomously in the planning and implementation of research.


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 Zoology

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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