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Graduate Admissions

Course closed:

Cancer Biology is no longer accepting new applications.

At the end of the MRes/PhD programme, candidates will be prepared for further postdoctoral training to produce the cancer research leaders of the future. The course design reflects our belief that, for this to happen, students need a much deeper and broader knowledge of cancer biology and its relationship to the clinic, as well as a breadth of experience of experimental work to make an informed choice of research area. 

The programme is designed to give students a broad understanding of both the basic biology as well as clinical management of the whole spectrum of malignant disease. It also allows students to develop their own skills in experimental science as well as in project design and management.

The first year MRes degree comprises two research rotations, a weekly 'Lectures in Cancer Biology and Medicine' series, together with a week of intensive teaching in genomic medicine, and a one- to two-week placement in a patient-facing setting. The placement will enable insight into the rewards and challenges of cancer research and development of diagnostics and treatments. Project write-ups and formation of a PhD proposal are also integral to the programme.

Successful completion of the one-year MRes programme will lead directly on to a three-year PhD, usually in one of the rotation project host laboratories, which will allow in-depth study of a particular area of cancer biology. 

PhD students are probationary during their first year. Full PhD registration occurs after the successful completion of a report and viva at the end of their first year of the PhD stage. The PhD itself is examined by dissertation and viva.

Learning Outcomes

Students should leave the MRes year with an overview of the basic biology of cancer and of diagnosis, treatment and research frontiers across the range of different tumour types covered by the CRUK Cambridge Centre. Students should also obtain a better understanding of the practical treatment and management of cancer from a patient perspective.

Students will also aquire enhanced technical skills from their rotation project and a broad appreciation of the literature and scientific methods and techniques applicable to their own projects. They will have developed their ability to critically evaluate research methodologies and outcomes. They will also have developed their project planning and management skills and should be able to formulate their own research questions.

At the end of their PhDs, students should additionally:

  • have a thorough grasp of the literature and research methodologies pertinent to their own research project;
  • show the ability to undertake planning and execution of a research project independently;
  • demonstrate originality in their ability to create and interpret new knowledge; and
  • have gained skills in oral and written presentation.


The MRes is a full-time 12-month programme that, on successful completion including submission and examination of a suitable PhD proposal, leads directly on to a three-year PhD.

Key Information

1+3 years full-time

Doctor of Philosophy
Master of Research in the first instance

Department of Oncology


Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 3, 2018
Application deadline
Dec. 1, 2018
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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