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Graduate Admissions


Science and technology, business and transitionary modules are taught in the first two terms, integrating commercial know-how with advances in research and demonstrating the many complex issues associated with bringing discovery and innovation from the laboratory to the market. The programme is highly participatory and includes numerous practical elements in the form of interdisciplinary projects, workshops, case studies and business planning activities.

Students undertake both a consulting project and a technology company internship placement and have the opportunity to gain an international perspective during a (self-funded, optional, student-planned and -led) study tour to a biotechnology business cluster such as in the EU, USA or Asia.

The MBE class is taught as an undivided cohort. There are no elective components and all students follow the same syllabus. The class offers a professional practice experience and a high level of participation is expected. All lectures and course components are mandatory. The taught aspects of the programme occupy two intensive 11-week terms and the third term is dedicated to the research internship placement and dissertation. Please note that the MBE term times are different from the standard University term times.

The Department is renowned for its practical and successful approach to biotechnology entrepreneurship and the exploitation of bioscience inventions. Students benefit from a unique combination of teaching and mentoring from experienced business and academic contributors. The faculty pursue a variety of research interests and the application of the resulting technologies has led to the founding of many spin-out companies. Our innovative achievements and strong Master's teaching were recognised by the Queen's Anniversary Award (2007).

One to one supervision

Students benefit from a high level of interaction with the staff responsible for the programme, in particular, the academic director, coordinator, module leaders and internship supervisors. The former two members of staff provide support to students throughout the duration of the course. Appointments with other senior members of staff and module leaders are available by arrangement.

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

Seminars & classes

The majority of teaching is seminar-style, and student participation in discussions is strongly encouraged.


Students are expected to be available for lectures, workshops and assessments between Monday and Friday from 9 am to 5 pm during term time. All modules and associated lectures, workshops and assessments are mandatory. There are usually up to 20 hours of lectures per week throughout the first two terms, and in addition, other classes and team working activities are scheduled. While the course is recognised as being intense, students appreciate that spending their time working closely with a group of other bright and enthusiastic individuals is a transformative educational experience. Interaction during formal lectures and informal seminars is always encouraged.


Students undertake both a consulting project (six weeks' part-time duration, group activity) and an internship (ten weeks' full-time duration, individual activity). There are further "professional practice style" practical activities associated with each of the taught modules. These usually take the form of workshops, group seminars and team-working activities.

Small group teaching

Staff are available to meet with students who require individual attention or mentorship on specific topics. This style of collaborative working is a key strength and a hallmark of the course.

Journal clubs

Student-led journal clubs have in the past proved popular and each cohort is encouraged to establish such activities. Students may also attend other public seminars in the department and wider University. There is an active postgraduate student society ("GradSoc"), providing opportunities to network with other graduate students studying in the department. Students may only participate in such events if they do not conflict with the formal MBE programme.


Submission of a literature review is a course requirement for the research internship component.


The majority of modules are assessed by a presentation produced as the result of group work and by an individual submission in the form of a short paper or critical appraisal. Developing presentation and communications skills are an important aspect of the training offered by the programme. Students work in teams to prepare presentations throughout the course.


In April and May of each year, MBE students spend the majority of their time working in a company placement, carrying out research with a commercial or business dimension. Students are encouraged at this time to put into practice the lessons learnt from the academic aspects of the programme as well as to demonstrate originality of research and analysis. The MBE staff provides considerable support to students in regard to both identifying suitable projects and during the placement itself. An academic supervisor and a company supervisor are appointed to oversee each project.

It is important that the project undertaken relates to the field of "bioscience enterprise", addresses a defined research question and affords the student the opportunity to collect quantitative and qualitative data. The subsequent analysis forms the basis of a substantial dissertation. The findings are also presented at a symposium held at the end of the year, at which students describe their conclusions and recommendations to the host company to an audience of examiners, students and course contributors.


The majority of work submitted for assessment is returned within four weeks, accompanied by a grade and remarks highlighting the strengths of the work and areas in which it could be improved. Work that is marked by more than one assessor or that requires moderation may take longer to process. However, providing constructive feedback is a principle objective of the teaching. Students also receive a termly feedback report via an online system.

Students are encouraged to provide feedback on each element of the course, in order that the quality of provision can be monitored and improved. This can be supplied directly to staff or anonymously through an online survey mechanism.



A 10,000-word dissertation is a core component of the MBE assessment. Passing this component of the course is required for the attainment of the degree qualification. The dissertation is based on data collected during a research placement in a company and its subsequent analysis. The dissertation should demonstrate awareness of the current academic and business literature and show evidence of innovative thinking. The work must not be simply a review or an extrapolation of previously published work.


Written submissions include up to ten essays, short reports and critical appraisals, a business plan, a consulting project report and a dissertation of no more than 10,000 words based on research and analysis conducted during the internship placement. At the end of the dissertation-writing period, students give an assessed presentation. The examiners may ask candidates to take an oral exam at the end of the course.

The assignments are designed not only to test knowledge but to extend learning and to develop professional practice skills. Prospective students have to note that owing to the relative brevity of the course the workload is high and vacation periods brief.

Written examination

There are no timed examinations.

Practical assessment

Attainment is continuously assessed, with particular emphasis on practical activities, participation and learning through teamwork in the research, preparation, and delivery of presentations. Where possible, group work reflects activities that are representative of a professional business environment.

Students are encouraged to participate in extracurricular enterprise activities including, for example, entrepreneurial competitions and also submit a business plan as one of the course assignments.

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Key Information

9 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology


Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2020

Applications open
Sept. 2, 2019
Application deadline
June 2, 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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