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Postgraduate Admissions

Course closed:

Cancer Biology for Clinician Scientists 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 36 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 the 12 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

Students will be assigned a principal supervisor for each rotation, whom they should expect to see on a regular basis during the student's 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 for research students 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 years, students will attend a one-hour lecture per week (Thursdays 9.30–10.30am), for 36 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.




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 the MRes, students will undertake a one-week placement in industry, as a shadowing opportunity. This will be organised by their host CRUK Cambridge Centre Programme.


During the MRes, 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

A thesis is not required for the MRes degree. Instead, the research rotation reports and a PhD proposal will form part of the written component of the MRes assessment (see below).

A PhD proposal, which is assessed by oral examination, is required before a student may continue on to a PhD.


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 full PhD. Written feedback will be provided to the student. 

Practical assessment

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


A portfolio of work comprising research reports, of not more than 20,000 words in total, exclusive of tables, footnotes, bibliography, and appendices, on a theme and of a form approved by the Degree Committee for the Faculties of Clinical Medicine & Veterinary Medicine. The examination shall include an oral examination on the work submitted by the candidate and on the general field of knowledge within which such work falls.

The portfolio shall provide evidence to satisfy the Examiners that a candidate 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.

An External Examiner is appointed for each cohort.

Key Information

2 years part-time MRes + 3 years full-time PhD part-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
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.

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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