The Departments within the School of Clinical Medicine offer a range of postgraduate courses with the two main awards offered being the Doctor of Philosophy and the Master of Philosophy. You can find more information about these courses below:
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the University’s principal research degree for postgraduate students and is available in all Departments in the School. Completion normally requires three or four years of full-time study, or at least five years of part-time study, either route including a probationary period. Most Departments offer part-time PhDs but please check directly with any Department you are considering. Students are required to be resident in Cambridge.
You will undertake your PhD research within a Department in the Clinical School under the supervision of a Principal Supervisor usually working on a project area associated with their research activity and grants. You will also be allocated a Postgraduate Advisor, and other members of the research team may also be included as part of your Supervisory Team. You’ll be working alongside other PhD students and postdoctoral fellows in a stimulating and collaborative research environment at the cutting edge of research in that field. A PhD is intellectually demanding so you will need to be motivated and committed to a program of advanced study and research. Your Department and College will both support you throughout your PhD and you will be able to attend regular seminars in your subject area and could be involved in teaching, perhaps giving seminars or supervising, or in the social life of your Department and College.
All PhD students are probationary in their first year. Towards the end of the first year, you’ll be required to submit a report, the purpose of which is to provide evidence of your suitability for registration for a PhD. This will be assessed at an oral examination by two assessors, and you will need to pass in order to be formally registered for the PhD.
You will be examined for the final award of your PhD via a written thesis which most students submit for examination during the fourth year of study. The thesis is the combination of your research work over your PhD and can represent a significant contribution to learning, for example through the discovery and development of new knowledge and theories. Some student’s theses can go on to form the basis of significant publications and be the foundation for their academic career. As well as the thesis, students will also be examined on their research via an oral examination.
Many PhD students go on to postdoctoral fellowship research either at Cambridge or other universities in the UK and across the world. Many of our students go onto successful academic and research careers making important contributions to learning within the medical field.
There are a range of potential funding opportunities for PhD students during their studies and further information can be found on our funding page.
Courses offering a Doctor of Philosophy – You can filter courses by qualification on the full course listing.
Master of Philosophy (MPhil) by Research
As well as PhD’s all of the Departments within the School of Clinical Medicine also offer postgraduate research degrees which award a Master of Philosophy degree (MPhil). There are two types of MPhil awarded: the MPhil by Thesis, which is a research-only degree and the MPhil by Advanced Study, which includes a taught element (described in the tab below)
Both types of MPhil provide an excellent way to prepare for application to full-scale PhD research. They introduce you to research skills and specialist knowledge and an MPhil dissertation may be a valuable introductory experience in the preparation for research thesis. In some subjects, an MPhil can be a prerequisite for continuing on to research work or applying to a PhD course.
You will undertake your MPhil research within a Department in the Clinical School under the supervision of a Principal Supervisor usually working on a project area associated with their research activity and grants. You will also be allocated a Postgraduate Advisor, and other members of the research team may also be included as part of your Supervisory Team.
You may be working alongside other MPhil and PhD students and postdoctoral fellows in a stimulating and collaborative research environment at the cutting edge of research in that field. An MPhil is intellectually demanding so you will need to be motivated and committed to a program of advanced study and research. Your Department and College will both support you throughout your Course and you will be able to attend regular seminars in your subject area and could be involved in seminars, lab presentations and in the social life of your Department and College.
You will be assessed for the final award of your MPhil via a written thesis and oral examination at the end of your MPhil course. The thesis is the combination of your research work over your MPhil and can represent a significant contribution to learning, for example through the discovery and development of new knowledge and theories. Some student’s theses can go on to form the basis of significant publications and be the foundation for their academic career.
There is no automatic continuation from an MPhil to a PhD and a new application must be made and a suitable supervisor must be identified for the PhD.
For some “1+3” programmes (MRes), where the course has a one year taught element Masters in the first year followed by a 3 year PhD, progression to the PhD will be conditional upon passing the MRes before progressing to the PhD course as a probationer.
Courses offering a Master of Philosophy by Research – You can filter courses by qualification on the full course listing.
Master of Philosophy (MPhil) by Advanced Study
As well as research based MPhils, there are two ‘taught’ MPhils offered – see listing below. The MPhil by Advanced Study course is studied over 9months to 1 year full time or up to 2 years part time and follow a carefully designed curriculum. Students are assessed (depending on the course) by either written coursework, timed written examinations; and a written dissertation and an oral examination on your coursework or dissertation.
Full information on the courses, the areas of research available and the examination method can be found on the links below:
MPhil Population Health Sciences
The Department of Public Health and Primary Care, the MRC Epidemiology Unit and the MRC Biostatistics Unit jointly run an MPhil in Population Health Sciences, with specialisation themes in Epidemiology, Global Health, Health Data Science, Infectious Diseases, Primary Care Research and Public Health.
MPhil in Genomic Medicine
The MPhil in Genomic Medicine is taught by the Department of Medical Genetics, in partnership with Cambridge University Hospitals, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and European Bioinformatics Institute. Find out more about the course here.
MPhil in Translational Biomedical Research
This course is currently being redesigned for future re-introduction and will not be recruiting for 2023-24. For further information, please contact TBRemail@example.com
Master of Research (MRes)
The MRes degree is designed to prepare prospective PhD candidates for doctoral research. The course is based around a programme of projects, seminars and lectures in a specific area of research. It can be tailored to help you identify a specific PhD topic or gain a breadth of experience across a range of multidisciplinary approaches. Please review the course directory and department website for more detail.
Throughout your course for the MRes and PhD you will be under the supervision of a Principal Supervisor and you will also be allocated a Postgraduate Advisor. Other members of the research team may also be included as part of your Supervisory Team.
Your Department and College will both support you throughout your Course and you will be able to attend regular seminars in your subject area and could be involved in seminars, lab presentations and in the social life of your Department and College.
The MRes is generally offered (see exception below) as part of a four-year doctoral programme. In these four-year “1+3” programmes, the MRes is offered ONLY in conjunction with the PhD with continuation to the PhD is subject to passing the MRes assessment at the end of the first year plus identification of a suitable PhD project and supervisor. This may be outside of the host department of your MRes year. You will then progress to the PhD course as a PhD probationer.
All Probationary PhD students are required to undergo formal assessment (by written report and viva) at the end of their first year of the PhD stage of the programme. A successful outcome of this assessment is required before students will be allowed to proceed with their PhD and be formally registered to the PhD.
Master of Research courses:
Cardiovascular Research in the Department of Medicine here and here
Cancer Biology in CRUK Cambridge Centre here and here
Genomic Medicine in the Department of Medical Genetics here . This is a standalone one year MRes with no progression to PhD.
You can filter courses by qualification on the full course listing.
The MSt is a part-time masters degree and is designed for students who might need to study alongside other commitments. MSt courses allow you to develop your professional and academic interests for career progression or personal development. Many MSt students will have work experience prior to undertaking the programme.
MSt courses generally have a significant taught element as well as a research project and associated dissertation. They are usually undertaken over two years. The taught elements are normally broken down into discrete modules and research projects may be work-related. The modular structure of teaching blocks enables students living farther away from Cambridge, including international students, to undertake an MSt.
Applications are made through the Institute of Continuing Education rather than via the Postgraduate Admissions Office.
Doctor of Medicine (MD degree)
The MD degree is a doctorate awarded to clinicians who have undertaken an extended period of scientific research. It provides an opportunity for doctors to receive recognition of research achievement within an approved academic programme. The MD, on a par academically with the PhD, spans a maximum of six years, allowing candidates to undertake their research alongside clinical or other responsibilities, at the end of which their dissertation is examined by viva.
The MD Degree, on a par academically with the PhD, is aimed at medically-qualified clinicians working in Cambridge who hold suitable research appointments within Cambridge University Health Partners (i.e. the University of Cambridge, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, and Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust).
Research projects, allied to the area in which the candidate is currently employed, can be undertaken across the whole spectrum of medical science from basic biology to clinical therapies. All applicants must be employed by CUHP at the time of their application and have sufficient dedicated research time (full- or part-time) to complete the proposed research.
Applicants are asked to submit a detailed research proposal with their application. If accepted, a University supervisor will be formally appointed and the candidate will be expected to work on the project part-time (usually alongside their clinical commitments within CUHP), and to submit their final thesis within a maximum of six years.
Before you apply, you will need to identify a potential University of Cambridge supervisor who is prepared to supervise your work and provide termly reports on your progress for the duration of the programme.
Like the PhD, the work is examined by thesis and viva. As registered part-time students of the University, MD candidates will have access to a wide range of library and computing facilities, as well as social and pastoral resources in their Colleges.
The essential academic/professional requirements for the MD are:
• a medical degree giving entitlement to provisional or full registration with the General Medical Council
• a primary degree of the University of Cambridge (e.g. BA, MB BChir, MPhil, PhD – at least 4 years must have elapsed since being awarded your medical degree (MB BChir, MBBS, MB ChirB, etc) before you may apply)
• an appropriate contract of employment within a member institution of Cambridge University Health Partners which allows a minimum of normally two-years’ full-time research (or part-time equivalent), plus time to write up the dissertation. Applicants are expected to be at ST1 grade or above.
The university fee for 2023-24 is £9,387. The MD is only available part-time.
Application Guide 2023-24
Apply using the Applicant Portal which can be found on the Postgraduate Admissions website. You will be able to create and submit your application, and request references.
NB: Please note that before applying you will need to identify a potential University of Cambridge supervisor who is prepared to supervise your work for the duration of the programme.
There is a Guide for current students through the MD office firstname.lastname@example.org
MD by Special Regulations
If you hold a primary Cambridge degree and are working outside Cambridge, you must apply to take the MD by Special Regulations.
You do not become a registered student of the University of Cambridge and you will not have access to University or College resources other than those available to you as an alumnus. Such resources should be available to you at your host institution. You will also be required to show proof that you have the active support of a suitable supervisor at your host institution.
Applicants for this course should have achieved: a medical degree giving entitlement to provisional or full registration with the General Medical Council. In addition, applicants must have a primary degree of the University of Cambridge (e.g. BA, MB BChir, MPhil, PhD – at least 4 years must have elapsed since being awarded your medical degree MB BChir, MBBS, MB ChirB, etc. before you may apply) and be working at an institution outside Cambridge.
How to apply
If you are interested in applying to the MD by Special Regulations, please contact the Secretary to the MD Committee at: email@example.com.
The fee for the MD by Special Regulations is a one-off payment of £1,866. Should your application be unsuccessful, all but £500 will be returned to you. Payment can made electronically – see the Application Guide (link above) for the bank details.
There is a Guide for current students through the MD office firstname.lastname@example.org
PhD by Special Regulations
In order to qualify for the PhD by Special Regulations you will need to demonstrate that: your published work comprises a significant contribution to scholarship; and you meet the eligibility criteria for the degree.
For further information please see: http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/students/studentregistry/exams/higher/phdspecial.html
Higher Doctorates – Doctor of Medical Science (MedScD) & Doctor of Science (ScD)
In order to qualify for a Higher Doctorate, you will need to provide proof of distinction by some original contribution to the advancement of science or learning.
For further information please see: Higher doctorates | Cambridge students