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Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

Cardiovascular Research is no longer accepting new applications.


The basic programme design is 1+3 years, with the MRes year consisting of three laboratory-based projects, each lasting ten weeks. Students select their project from principal investigators associated with the programme. Training in transferable skills will involve the following: communication skills – oral and written presentations; report, thesis and paper writing; and project planning. At the end of each project, the project outcome and student progress are assessed by means of a written report followed by an oral discussion with the supervisor and assessor in terms one and two, together with a poster presentation in term three. Within the first year, there is additional training in statistics.

One to one supervision

Students are supervised by the principal investigator or a designated supervisor for the duration of their laboratory placement. Meetings will take place on a regular basis.

Seminars & classes

During the MRes year, students attend one mandatory seminar per week during term time, others are optional.


Students will attend both compulsory (e.g. chemical safety) lectures and non-compulsory lectures that are of interest to them (e.g. bioinfomatics, statistics, etc). In addition, multiple external speakers give weekly seminars across Cambridge, with ample provision for students to attend these.


Hands-on research in the lab is conducted in the form of three 12-week projects in the chosen supervisors lab (i.e. the lab rotations). Students will learn a variety of practical techniques important to the individual project being undertaken.

Small group teaching

Students will attend weekly 'Hot topics' sessions during the rotation period, whereby an individual PI will either present their lab's work or discuss an area of research. These are composed of the 3-4 students and the PI, with an emphasis on interactive discussion for an hour.

Journal clubs

Journal clubs are not compulsory, but can be attended as part of the structure of an individual PI's group and/or as part of an individual institute program (e.g. The HLRI).

Literature Reviews

Students will need to perform a thorough literature review to write the three individual lab rotation reports, and indeed their doctoral project proposal, written in the style of a BHF grant application.

Posters and Presentations

A poster presentation is made at the end of term three in year one.


Students will undertake three placements or rotations in the laboratories of different contributing supervisors to give them the experience of different working environments.


Students should expect to receive ongoing feedback from all supervisors involved in their research project. In addition, the principal supervisor will write termly online reports which can be accessed by the student.

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision.

The supervisor will provide written feedback to the student each term with progress reports submitted online. The feedback will relate to the progress the student has made and include a specific comment on their research project. This will be discussed with the student in advance of the submission of the report to the University



Thesis / Dissertation

 No thesis is required for the MRes part of this course.

The PhD will be examined by a thesis of no more than 60,000 words excluding  figures, photographs, tables, appendices and bibliography; and an oral examination (viva).


Students must successfully complete and pass the MRes before they may progress to doctoral study

The MRes examination takes the following form:

  • A portfolio of research reports (of not more than 20,000 words in total exclusive of tables, footnotes, bibliography, and appendices) which will provide evidence to satisfy the Examiners that a student can design and carry out an original investigation, assess and interpret the results obtained, and place the work in the wider perspective of the subject. The portfolio will include a formal doctoral project proposal.
  • An oral examination (viva voce) on the work submitted by the student and on the general field of knowledge within which such work falls.

Written examination

No formal exams are sat by the students for this course.

Practical assessment

Students are assessed for quality of their practical work over three 12-week lab placements. The resulting report from this is then assessed by two PIs during a viva, where the students will be asked to discuss the practical work conducted.


Before students can enter the probationary year of the PhD, they are examined for an MRes (Master of Research) which they must pass. Award of the MRes degree and decision to proceed on to the PhD programme involves evaluation of all written reports, a formal doctoral project proposal and viva voce examination by an internal examiner together with an external university examiner. The examiners provide a report on the outcome of the assessment, their recommendation to pass or fail the candidate, as well as provide any feedback they wish to provide to the student and supervisor.

If the MRes is successfully passed students will progress to the NOTAF (probationary) year of the PhD course.

All students are probationary in the first year of their PhD course and are required to undergo formal assessment (by written report and viva) at the end of their first year in the stage of the programme. If successful, the student moves from being "probationary" to being registered for the PhD and can proceed with their project.

Key Information

1+3 years full-time

Doctor of Philosophy
Master of Research in the first instance

Department of Medicine

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Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

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

Course Funding Deadline
Jan. 4, 2024
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

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