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Graduate Admissions

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Course closed:

Automated Chemical Synthesis Enabled by Digital Molecular Technologies (EPSRC CDT) is no longer accepting new applications.

This cutting-edge Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Automated Chemical Synthesis Enabled by Digital Molecular Technologies (SynTech) aims to develop a new generation of leaders in synthetic chemistry research with a focus on Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence-driven techniques.

The SynTech CDT will create a unique and rewarding research & training environment. Students from a range of backgrounds will work at the interface of scientific disciplines to automate chemical synthesis, accelerate the design & production of small molecules for any application, and in doing so address new translational challenges that will inevitably emerge. 

The full-time four-year programme will provide excellent interdisciplinary, cohort-based postgraduate training, with opportunities to learn about key subject areas such as: 

  • chemical synthesis;
  • high-throughput experimentation; 
  • sustainability of chemical processes; 
  • drug/agrochemical discovery; 
  • process scale-up & model development; 
  • chemical informatics; 
  • computational parameterization; and 
  • machine learning & associated data-driven science.

During this time, students will complete a comprehensive Core Skills Training Programme in their first six months followed by an extended research project for the award of the PhD.

In addition, they will be equipped with a broad set of complementary scientific skills including ethics and integrity, science communication in media, business & research. As such, there is a non-compulsory opportunity to participate in entrepreneurship leadership skills training through the framework of an innovation development project.  There is also the possibility to undertake a 2-3month placement in a partner company. 

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the programme, students will have:

  • become exposed to all aspects of our CDT and become familiar with the challenges & difficulties inherent to each, such that they can streamline solutions to tomorrow’s translational science challenges;
  • acquired a broad set of complementary scientific skills relevant for the CDT and a solid understanding of Responsible Research & Innovation;
  • demonstrated some self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and acted autonomously in the planning and implementation of research;
  • taken up relevant and highly useful researcher development training opportunities to develop skills and attributes for their desired future career;
  • Chemists will have core & state of the art synthetic skills, in addition to knowledge of cheminformatics, computational parameterization and ML/AI concepts;
  • Theoreticians & data-scientists of all backgrounds will have an understanding of the challenges & demands of synthetic chemistry & process engineering and how ML & AI solutions might be realized from a partnership with experts to solve challenging problems;
  • Chemical engineers will have an understanding of the practical challenges provided by synthetic chemistry & the difficulties they need to consider when, for example, translating synthesis to robotic systems, as well as how synthetic chemists & theoreticians might work with them to design experiments and facilitate these processes. 


MPhil students currently studying a relevant course at the University of Cambridge will need to pass their MPhil course (if examined by thesis) or obtain minimum merit (if there is a marked element) in order to be eligible to continue onto the SynTech CDT programme.

Open Days

The Department of Chemistry hosts an open day for prospective graduate students in October, and which applicants are welcome to attend. The day includes sessions run by each of the five research interest groups, laboratory tours, and a chance to meet with current students, researchers and academic staff. There will also be an opportunity to talk to administrative staff about the application process. Refreshments are provided.

If you are interested in attending, please sign up in advance via the Graduate Admissions page on the Department of Chemistry website. The Open Day for 2020 entry applicants will take place on Friday, 18 October 2019.

The University of Cambridge will be hosting its Cambridge Postgraduate Open Day on Friday 1 November 2019. Visit the Postgraduate Open Day page for more details.


This course is advertised in the following departments:

Key Information

4 years full-time

Doctor of Philosophy

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. 2, 2019
Application deadline
Dec. 3, 2019
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2020

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

Graduate Funding Competition
Dec. 3, 2019
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 14, 2019

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