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Postgraduate Admissions

The PhD course is a three to four years full-time, or five to seven years part-time research-based course.

Full-time PhD students are on probation during their first year and must successfully complete their registration assessment before entering their second year; this involves producing a written report followed by an oral examination. Part-time students are on probation for their first two years and should complete their registration assessment before they enter their third year. In addition, full-time and part-time students are also required to produce regular written progress reports.

At the end of their course, students produce a thesis of 60,000 words maximum, followed by an oral examination based on both their thesis and a broader knowledge of their chosen area of research. Students are provided with information which clearly sets out what is expected of them in order to obtain their degree.

Most research training is provided within the structure of the student’s research group and informal opportunities to develop research skills are available through mentoring by other members of staff and fellow students. All students are encouraged to attend scientific meetings, seminars and postgraduate courses relevant to their area of interest. They are also expected to participate in journal clubs and lab meetings and to take advantage of the numerous and varied opportunities including transferable skills training offered by the University. 

Each student is assigned a principal supervisor who oversees their research project and an adviser who provides additional support. Our postgraduate student administrator acts as the first point of contact for any student with a query or difficulty that is not directly related to their scientific work. All student matters in the department are overseen by our director of postgraduate education and the Cancer Biology Postgraduate Education Committee.

The PhD course provides:

  • a period of a sustained in-depth study of a specific topic;
  • an environment that encourages the student’s originality and creativity in their research;
  • skills to enable the student to critically examine the background literature relevant to their specific research area;
  • the opportunity to develop skills in making and testing hypotheses, in developing new theories, and in planning and conducting experiments;
  • the opportunity to expand the student’s knowledge of their research area, including its theoretical foundations and the specific techniques used to study it;
  • the opportunity to gain knowledge of the broader field of cancer research; and
  • an environment in which to develop skills in written work, oral presentation and publishing the results of their research in high-profile scientific journals, through constructive feedback of written work and oral presentations.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of their PhD course, students should:

  • have a thorough knowledge of the literature and a comprehensive understanding of scientific methods and techniques applicable to their own research;
  • be able to demonstrate 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;
  • have developed the ability to critically evaluate current research and research techniques and methodologies;
  • have self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems;
  • be able to act autonomously in the planning and implementation of research; and
  • have gained oral presentation and scientific writing skills.

Continuing

Those who wish to progress to a PhD after completing an MPhil will be required to satisfy their potential supervisor, Head of Department and the Faculty Degree Committee that they have the skills and ability to achieve the higher degree.


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 Oncology

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

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. 13, 2023
Course Starts
April 17, 2023

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

Michaelmas 2023

Applications open
Sept. 15, 2022
Application deadline
May 10, 2023
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2023

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

Applications open
Sept. 15, 2022
Application deadline
Oct. 4, 2023
Course Starts
Jan. 5, 2024

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

Applications open
Sept. 15, 2022
Application deadline
Jan. 15, 2024
Course Starts
April 17, 2024

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

Course Funding Deadline
Jan. 5, 2023
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 12, 2022

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2023, Lent 2024 and Easter 2024.


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