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Postgraduate Admissions

Course closed:

Cancer Biology is no longer accepting new applications.


The MRes students will attend the compulsory, but unexamined, 'Lectures in Cancer Biology & Medicine' series. The course comprises of one lecture per week for 34 weeks. The first (approximately) ten lectures will cover the basic biology underpinning cancer, including cell cycle, DNA repair and metastatic mechanisms. The remaining lectures will be taught by researchers from all the CRUK Cambridge Centre Programmes and will cover both diagnosis and treatment of site specific-cancers as well as more general areas, including cancer imaging and drug development.

The students will also take part in one week of intensive teaching in genomic medicine of cancer (lectures and computer-based) alongside the students who are undertaking the MPhil in Genomic Medicine.

The students will also receive training in core transferable skills such as presenting data, statistics, and time management.

Students will, in addition, receive practical research training in their laboratory rotations. They will then be supported in writing up their own lab reports and in presenting their work to their peers. Their write-ups will be independently examined by an assessor. Finally, MRes students will receive support from their potential PhD project supervisors when developing their PhD project proposal, which will be formally examined by viva.

One to one supervision

You will be assigned a principal supervisor for each rotation, whom you should expect to see on a regular basis during your time with them.

Each 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.


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

Seminars & classes

Students will have the opportunity to attend non-compulsory departmental and CRUK Cambridge Centre seminars.


During the MRes year, students will attend a one-hour lecture per week (Thursdays 9.30–10.30am), for 34 weeks and also participate in a one-week-long intensive cancer genomics medicine course, which will comprise of lectures with some computer-based work.


Students participate in two 16-weeks laboratory-based rotations, assessed by a report at the end of each one. 

Small group teaching


Journal clubs

None but their host rotation laboratories may run their own journal clubs that they will be expected to attend.

Literature Reviews


Posters and Presentations

Oral presentations are given at mini-symposia at the end of each rotation period. Posters will be presented at the CRUK Cambridge Centre Student Symposium, held annually at the end of the academic year.


During their MRes year, students will undertake a one- to two-week placement, usually in a patient-facing environment such as within a hospital or clinic setting. This will be organised by their host CRUK Cambridge Centre Programme.


During the MRes year, project supervisors will provide written feedback as an ongoing part of rotation project supervision and will also give additional feedback on students’ mini-presentations. 

Students will receive written feedback on their rotation project write-ups from independent examiners.

During the PhD, students will receive termly online feedback from their supervisors.


Thesis / Dissertation

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

The MRes examination takes the following form:

  • two research rotation reports and a PhD proposal will form part of the formal written component of the MRes assessment (see below);
  • a PhD proposal which is assessed by oral examination is required if the student is to be successful in progressing to a PhD.

Candidates must successfully pass the MRes assessment to progress to the PhD as a probationer..


For the PhD a thesis not to exceed 60,000 words to be submitted at the end of the PhD degree. This limit excludes figures, photographs, tables, appendices and bibliography. Lines to be double or one-and-a-half spaced; pages to be double or single sided.


For the MRes assessment students will submit a portfolio of research reports, of not more than 20,000 words in total, exclusive of tables, footnotes, bibliography, and appendices. This will take the form of two rotation reports, one oral presentation, one conference poster and a 6000 word PhD proposal.

The examiners will use these assessments as the basis for making their recommendation on both the award of the MRes degree and, additionally, on whether the student should be allowed to proceed to the PhD as a probationer. Written feedback will be provided to the student. 

Practical assessment

Students participate two in 16-weeks laboratory-based rotations, assessed by a report at the end of each one. 


All Probationary PhD students are required to undergo formal assessment (by written report and viva) at the end of their first year of the PhD stage of the programme.  A successful outcome of this assessment is required before students will be allowed to proceed with their PhD and be formally registered to the PhD.

Key Information

1+3 years full-time

Doctor of Philosophy
Master of Research in the first instance

Department of Oncology

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Oct. 1, 2021
Application deadline
Nov. 15, 2021
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2022

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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