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Postgraduate Admissions


The course is structured in two phases: a one-year MRes course followed by a three-year PhD project. The MRes course will include research and transferable skills training aimed at preparing students optimally to carry out an interdisciplinary PhD in sensor technologies for a healthy and sustainable future.

During the MRes course, students are expected to

  • attend the foundation course in sensor technologies and applications (approximately 30 lectures);
  • choose four specialisation modules (typically 16 hours each);
  • attend the inclusive innovation course (covering topics in business, management and sustainable development);
  • attend courses on responsible research and innovation;
  • attend all workshops (approximately four workshops); and
  • successfully conduct three extended projects:
    • sensor design project (approximately eight weeks in Michaelmas term),
    • mini research project (approximately ten weeks in Lent term) and
    • team challenge (approximately twelve weeks in Easter term and summer vacation).

During the PhD phase, students will carry out full-time research in one or more of the participating departments. The research will be complemented by formal and informal training opportunities, eg workshops and seminars.

One to one supervision

Students’ PhD projects will be carried out in one of the 20 or so participating departments and co-supervised by at least two out of the about 50 PhD supervisors participating in the Sensor CDT. Research work will be supplemented by cohort activities and transferable-skills workshops. Supervisors will provide general academic advice to students, and subject-specific advice relating to the thesis. Students and supervisors normally meet about once a month to discuss progress, but meetings may be more or less frequent depending on the project’s progression.

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

Seminars & classes

MRes:  monthly one-hour industry lectures during Michaelmas and Lent terms.

MRes and PhD: sensor-related seminars, workshops or skills sessions, approximately one per month.


MRes: the Principles of Sensing lecture series (approximately 30 hours), the Inclusive Innovation course (approximately 16 hours) and four specialisation modules (approximately 16 hours each) during Michaelmas and Lent terms.


 MRes and PhD: approximately four workshops throughout the year.

Posters and Presentations

MRes: students will present their results from the sensor design project, mini research project and the team challenge in the form of a presentation and/or report.

PhD: students will present their research outcomes during talks, seminars and workshops in the form of oral and poster presentations.


During the MRes phase, students will carry out a number of practicals and a mini research project organised by the participating departments. Industrial partners might offer the opportunity for MRes or PhD students to carry out parts of their projects in the industrial partner's research facilities.


The students' coursework, reports and presentations will be marked, and the students will receive feedback on their progress through termly online reports. The students will be supervised during their projects and will receive continuous feedback from their project supervisor.


Thesis / Dissertation

For students who carry on to the PhD, a thesis must be submitted and will be assessed via an oral examination with an internal and an external examiner.

The thesis will have to comply with the rules and regulations set out by the department in which the student is registered for his or her PhD. The typical length of the PhD thesis will be 60,000–65,000 words.


For the MRes, the students’ progress will be assessed through two project reports of not more than 7,000 words based on work carried out during mini research projects and the team challenge. Some of the specialisation modules may be assessed through written coursework submissions and others through a combination of coursework and written examination.

Written examination

For the MRes, some of the specialisation modules may be assessed through a combination of coursework and written examination.


For the MRes, the students’ progress will also be assessed by coursework, depending on the modules chosen.  

Students who continue to the PhD are probationary at first. At the end of their second year (the first year of the PhD programme), students will submit a progress report for assessment. Progression and registration for the PhD depends on a successful outcome of this assessment.

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Key Information

1+3 years full-time

Doctor of Philosophy
Master of Research in the first instance

Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2023

Applications open
Sept. 15, 2022
Application deadline
May 16, 2023
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2023

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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