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Postgraduate Study


The programme is based at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, but benefits from contribution from other departments within the University as well as a range of industry champions. It runs from October to August, and it is composed of lecture, practical and research elements. Its content is flexible, allowing students to tailor their studies to their interests and career goals by selecting specialised modules and the area and department within the University in which they would like to carry out their research.

The programme provides all-round training covering four key learning areas:

     - Technical knowledge

     - Practical skills

     - Research skills

     - Transferable skills, including business-related competences.

These learning areas are explored through six complementary elements:

     (1) In the first term, the students take a core course in biotechnology. The aim of this course is to equip students with foundational knowledge that allows them to apply their analytical skillset to biology-related areas.

     (2) The programme’s taught component also includes six advanced elective courses that are taken throughout the year. These courses are to be selected by the students from a list of subjects available at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology as well as at other departments across the University. The advanced courses are offered along three main axes:

            - Analysis (examples of courses normally available include mathematical biology of the cell, biophysics, cellular and molecular biomechanics, computational neuroscience, systems biology, modelling, simulation and machine learning, and optical microscopy)

            - Applications (for example, courses on bionanotechnology, biomimetics, biosensors and bioelectronics, chemical biology and drug discovery, biomaterials, healthcare biotechnology, medical physics, and pharmaceutical engineering)

            - Business (topics normally covered include strategic management,  international business, innovation and  management of intellectual property, and management of technology). 

     (3) A practical course, involving demonstration sessions, computer-based cloning experiments, and wet-laboratory experiments, gives students the opportunity to develop their practical and research skills.

     (4) Straight from the beginning, for eight months, the students conduct their individual research projects within the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology or in other departments. Some projects may involve industrial collaborations.

     (5) The programme also includes a team research project. Throughout the summer, the entire class works together on a project that will have been defined and organised in collaboration with one of the programme’s industry champions and/or other external contributor (e.g. NGOs). In this project, students have the chance to develop business-relevant skills, relying on leadership competences, effective project management, multilingualism to understand a range of different stakeholders, and commercial awareness to successfully complete the exercise. Depending on the project setting, students may also be given the opportunity to develop the mindset required to approach problems in a context of global development and international cooperation. 

     (6) In addition to its strong scientific core, the MPhil in Biotechnology places significant emphasis on the training of transferable skills, offering a comprehensive professional and career skills module that runs throughout the year.


Teaching is delivered through a combination of formal lectures, demonstration sessions and practical classes (both laboratory and computer-based), supervised research in one-to-one and group settings, and a range of other means supporting the development of practical and transferable skills (e.g. training workshops, seminars, formal and informal presentations).    

One to one supervision

The programme director and the programme manager provide day-to-day supervision dealing with student queries.

Students will normally meet with their research supervisor(s) for at least one hour per week. Mentors may be provided for laboratory work, providing equipment or technique-specific assistance as required.

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

Seminars & classes

In general, the professional and career skills module is seminar-style, with student participation being strongly encouraged and plenty of opportunities for skills practice (on average one hour per week).


The core biotechnology and the elective modules are lecture courses. The number of lecture hours per week will vary throughout the year and will depend on the way students tailor their studies by choosing elective courses. In total, students will attend approximately 130 hours of lectures throughout the programme.


The practical course on fundamental and advanced biotechnology techniques is projected to be of approximately 50 hours duration, involving demonstration, wet-laboratory and computer-based sessions. Throughout the year, students undertake both individual and team research projects, which involve intensive practical elements. As part of the professional and career skills module, students will have the opportunity to engage in activities that promote the development of transferable skills. 

Posters and Presentations

Students will have the opportunity to develop and practice their poster and oral presentation skills in the professional and career skills module. They will present their research projects at the MPhil in Biotechnology Symposium.


Students can expect to receive termly online progress reports, and they are asked to attend study meetings with the programme director/programme manager at the end of each term to discuss progress and any academic-related issues. They may be provided additional feedback by the module leaders for the programme’s taught component. In the programme’s research component, feedback is given by the research supervisor.

Students will have access to the programme director, the programme manager and other staff delivering the programme throughout the year, and are encouraged to provide feedback on several elements of the programme for monitoring and continuous improvement purposes.


Thesis / Dissertation

The programme's individual and team research projects are each assessed by written reports (maximum of 7,000 words each) and a presentation.


For taught modules that are assessed via coursework, the assignments may be reports/essays, presentations, in-class tests, class participation, or a combination of these.

Written examination

The taught modules may be assessed by coursework, written examination, or a combination of both.

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Key Information

11 months full-time

Study Mode : Taught

Master of Philosophy

Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

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Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2024

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
June 25, 2024
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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