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Graduate Admissions

Course closed:

Stem Cell Biology is no longer accepting new applications.


There are four main components of 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 Group Leaders within the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute.

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 three weeks at the end for data analysis and writing up 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

Students can expect to have regular lab meetings with their supervisor and with other lab members, and termly meetings with the programme coordinator. The regularity with which graduate students meet with their Supervisor varies throughout the year but meetings are likely to be more frequent to start with, during the planning stages, and during the writing-up phase. All students should have the opportunity to seek formal feedback from their Supervisor, and Supervisors should have the opportunity to give such feedback.

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


Seminars & classes

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

All students on this programme will be members of the University’s Graduate School of Life Sciences (GSLS) who offer a wide variety of core skills and professional development training. Visit the Researcher Development page on the GSLS website for more information. 

Journal clubs

One hour per week


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


The Cambridge Stem Cell Institute holds an annual PhD Day Symposium, at which all Institute-wide PhD students are invited to take part in a poster presentation session, and final-year PhD students are expected to give a verbal presentation of their work.

Additionally, an annual PhD retreat is held for students on the Four-Year (MRes + PhD) Programme, in which each student is expected to present their current work and progress to their peers and to the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute Graduate Student 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 Four-Year (MRes + PhD) Programme retreat and from an external assessor via an MRes Viva at the end of year one. Students will also present and discuss their work in at least one lab meeting per rotation.

Students can also expect to receive termly formal feedback reports via the online feedback and reporting system.



A thesis is not required for the year-one MRes course. However, if the student progresses to a full PhD, submission of a thesis 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. 

The thesis should be than 60,000 words (80,000 by special permission) excluding bibliography, figures, appendices etc. The thesis should be double-spaced or one-and-a-half spaced. Single- or double-sided printing is allowed. All students have to defend their thesis by attending a viva voce examination conducted by two examiners. Although the thesis must be the work of the student, the supervisor is allowed to give suggestions, critical advice and feedback on content and any draft version(s) of the thesis. 


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 Viva which takes place at the end of the first year and determines each student's progression to a full PhD in years 2-4.

Practical assessment

Progress will be reviewed annually at the Four-Year (MRes + PhD) Programme Presentation Day, where each student is expected to present their current research in front of their peers and the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute Graduate Student 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. 2, 2019
Application deadline
Jan. 7, 2020
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2020

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

Graduate Funding Competition
Jan. 7, 2020
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 14, 2019

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