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Graduate Admissions

Course closed:

Stem Cell Biology is no longer accepting new applications.


There are four main components to the first year:

1. Core Course

The purpose of the discussion course in year one is to provide students with a critical understanding of the major topics in Stem Cell Biology. Each module will focus on a particular topic, presented by Stem Cell Institute Group Leaders.

2. Lab rotations

Each student will rotate in the laboratories of three different contributing supervisors. They will be expected to select their rotations so that they gain experience of at least two different stem cell systems. Each rotation will last for nine weeks, plus two weeks at the end for data analysis and writing a project report.

3. Skills courses

Throughout the year there will be a variety of different skills-based courses designed to give training in a variety of technical approaches or to develop specific skills, including workshops on some of the core institute facilities.

4. Research Project Proposal

Students are expected to choose a laboratory for their thesis research towards the end of year one. They will then write a research proposal to form part of the assessment for a Master of Research degree in Biological Science (Stem Cell Biology). Students will normally then commence a three-year PhD.

One to one supervision

Regular meetings with rotation supervisors and lab members. Termly meetings with the programme co-ordinator.

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual code of practice for Masters students and Research students which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision:

Code of Practice for Masters Students

Code of Practice for Research Students

Seminars & classes

Approximately four hours per week, including weekly student-only and institute-wide seminars.

Journal clubs

One hour per week


Part of the core course in year one includes reading of nominated research papers, in preparation for the discussion session.


The Stem Cell Institute holds an annual PhD Symposium, at which all current Institute-wide PhD students take part in a poster presentation. Final-year PhD students are expected to also give a verbal presentation of their work at this event.

Additionally, an annual PhD retreat is held for students on the Four-Year (1+3) Programme, in which each student is expected to present their current work and progress to their peers and the PhD programme committee.

Students also have the opportunity to present posters in other annual departmental and institute-wide events, throughout the year.


Students receive formal feedback via written rotation reports submitted throughout year one, at the annual Wellcome Trust PhD programme retreat and from an external assessor via an MRes viva at the end of year one.



A thesis is not required for the year-one MRes in Biological Science. However, if the student progresses to a full PhD, submission of a dissertation of 60,000 words, with an oral examination on it and the general field of knowledge within which it falls, will be required in year four.


In year one, students are required to submit a written report at the end of each of the three rotations. A PhD proposal (critical appraisal) is required at the end of year one. These reports form the basis of the discussion at the MRes vivas which take place at the end of the first year and determine each student's progression to a full PhD in years two to four.

Practical assessment

Progress will be reviewed annually at the Presentation Day, where each student is expected to present their current research in front of their peers and the PhD Programme Advisory Committee.

Key Information

1+3 years full-time

Doctor of Philosophy
Master of Research in the first instance

Wellcome Trust - Medical Research Council Cambridge Stem Cell Institute


Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 3, 2018
Application deadline
Jan. 3, 2019
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2019

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

Graduate Funding Competition
Jan. 3, 2019
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 10, 2018

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