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Graduate Admissions

Course closed:

Developmental Biology is no longer accepting new applications.

The Wellcome Trust/University of Cambridge 4-Year PhD Programme in Developmental Mechanisms has a "1+3" structure: the first year is an integral "MPhil in Developmental Biology" after which students progress on to the PhD (Years 2-4 of the Programme). Around 45 developmental biology laboratories participate in the Programme, across four University departments (Physiology, Development & Neuroscience [PDN], Biochemistry, Genetics, and Zoology) including members of these Departments who are based at the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute. Interdisciplinary projects at the interface between the physical sciences and developmental biology are encouraged, with co-supervisors available in the Departments of Applied Mathematics & Theoretical Physics, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Physics.

The MPhil (Year 1) is offered by the Faculty of Biology as a full-time period of research and introduces students to research skills and specialist knowledge in Developmental Biology.
Its main aims are:

  • to give students with relevant experience at first-degree level the opportunity to carry out focussed research in the discipline under close supervision; 
  • to give students the opportunity to acquire or develop skills and expertise relevant to their research interests. It includes a range of courses (see Teaching & Learning section) and three laboratory rotations. All candidates submit written work (three rotation reports, a review essay and a PhD proposal ["Critical Appraisal"]) for examination for the MPhil in Developmental Biology (course code BLPNM2) which can only be taken as an integral part of this Programme.

After completing the MPhil, students undertake research for their PhD, and continue to participate in Programme-related activities e.g. an annual symposium. (Applicants wishing to do a stand-alone PhD or a one-year research course with a specific developmental biology laboratory in PDN should follow the application procedures for the courses BLPN22 and BLPNM1 respectively. Contact potential supervisors in the first instance, sending your CV and the names of two referees.)

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the programme, students will have:

  • a comprehensive understanding of techniques, and a thorough knowledge of the literature, applicable to their own research;
  • demonstrated originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the field;
  • shown abilities in the critical evaluation of current research and research techniques and methodologies.


Following successful completion of the MPhil Degree, candidates move straight on to Probationary PhD Status.


This course is advertised in the following departments:

Key Information

1+3 years full-time

Doctor of Philosophy
Master of Philosophy in the first instance

This course is advertised in multiple departments. Please see the Overview tab for more details.


Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 5, 2016
Application deadline
June 30, 2017
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2017

All deadlines are 12:00pm UK time on the date stated. Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Gates Cambridge (USA)
Oct. 12, 2016
Gates Cambridge (EU)
Dec. 7, 2016
All Overseas
Dec. 7, 2016
All EU & Home (not Gates)
Jan. 4, 2017

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