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How to apply

Step-by-step guide on how to make a University application

(Applicant Portal)  

(also available in PDF format)

1.  Check your eligibility

2.  Select your course

3.  Contact supervisor(s)  (Important note: supervisor required for PhD and MPhil applications.  You do not need to identify a supervisor for the MPhil in Basic and Translational Neuroscience or TBC:  MPhil in Developmental Biology)

4.  Look at sources of funding 

5.  Check deadlines you are working towards (funding or application – whichever comes first)

 The PDN application deadline for the University funding competition has now passed (7 January 2020).  It is still possible to apply, but you would need to identify your own funding.  We strongly advise all applicants to apply as early as possible. You should not wait until the day of the deadline to submit your application or supporting documents, as your application will be withdrawn if it is not complete by the deadline - this includes providing all supporting documents and references.  

6.  Apply online via the Applicant Portal: (for applicants applying for admission in October 2020, January 2021 and April 2021)

Applicant Portal



Please read on for more detailed guidance
(also available in PDF format):


Eligibility and entrance requirements:

Graduate study at the University of Cambridge is intense and very intellectually demanding, so the University has high academic entry requirements. You are normally expected to hold or to have achieved by the start of your course:

  • minimum of an upper second class (2:1) honours degree from a UK university or an equivalent standard from an overseas university in a relevant biological subject; and
  • completion of, or release from, any current training or education course

To check if your international qualification meets the University minimum requirement, please consult the International section of the University website.

Entry requirements:  you should be aware that meeting the University’s or departments’ minimum academic requirements does not guarantee entry; it is only one of the factors taken into account when academic selectors make their decision. Many other factors are also important, such as suitability for the course, proficiency in English, relevant experience, references, availability of a suitable supervisor, and the number of available places.

Competence in English:  if English isn’t your first language, you will be required to submit evidence that you meet the University’s English language requirement before you are admitted to your proposed course of study.  

FAQ for international students 

Decide which course to apply for:

PhD in Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

MPhil in Biological Science (Physiology, Development and Neuroscience)

The PhD degree normally involves a minimum of three or maximum of four year course of research, although part-time degrees are now possible. The MPhil degree is a one year course of research. Both culminate in the submission of a dissertation which is defended in an oral examination. Training involves a combination of instruction from within the research group, learning the skills and developing research experience on a day-to-day basis, and formal training courses. The latter are designed to develop extra technical and transferable skills.

Other courses hosted by PDN

MPhil in Basic and Translational Neuroscience (Additional course information)

Mphil in Developmental Biology  - new for October 2020 


There is a single round of admissions each year for the following listed funded programmes and studentships.  Deadlines will be published on their webpages.

Cambridge/Babraham - MRC Doctoral Training Programme (closed for October 2020 entry)

Centre for Trophoblast Research (closed for October 2020 entry)

Wellcome Trust/MRC 4 year International PhD Programme in Stem Cell Biology (closed for October 2020 entry)

Cambridge 4 year British Heart Foundation Programme in Cardiovascular Research  (closed for October 2020 entry)


Finding a supervisor

Applicants for the PhD and MPhil must identify a supervisor and agree on a research project before submitting their application. 

Find a supervisor and research project area from the groups listed in the PDN research themes

Make contact with the supervisor(s) by email/telephone to find out more information about possible projects.  You are advised to do this as early as possible. 

Note:  You do not need to identify a supervisor before applying for the following courses: MPhil in Basic and Translational Neuroscience and MPhil in Developmental Biology



Look into the costs and fees for graduate training in Cambridge.

There are several funding opportunities at Cambridge for prospective postgraduate students, from a wide variety of sources including the Cambridge Trust, Gates Cambridge, Colleges, Departments (individual labs may have specific funding for students from time to time, these will be advertised on this webpage), Research Councils and central University funds. You can use the links below to help you find out which you might be eligible for, and how and when to apply.  The University also operate a Graduate Funding Competition to co-ordinate some of these funding opportunities and make the process easier for you as an applicant.

There are two deadlines to consider when applying for funding, the application deadlines and the funding deadlines.  Application for both is via the same online form but you must apply by whichever deadline comes first. Which this will be depends on the course and your status as explained at this link:


The PDN deadline for the University funding competition has now passed:

12:00 midday (BST) on Tuesday 7 January 2020 
for applicants applying for admission in October 2020, January 2021 and April 2021)

Students from the USA who wish to be considered for the Gates USA competition need to apply much earlier as their deadline is 9 October 2019.


Funding Search Tool
Search awards administered by the University of Cambridge (departments, faculties, colleges, central offices and other internal sponsors)
External funding
Helpful information on sourcing funding for graduate studies.
Student Loans
Vacancies pages
Individual studentships may be advertised on the University of Cambridge

Selecting a College
Guidance and tips on how to select a College.


Making your application

All applications must be made using the:

Applicant Portal

Application fee  

The Graduate School of Life Sciences has a scheme which enables three applications to be made with payment of a single £65 application fee. A list of eligible courses and further information can be found here. All of the courses we run are covered by this scheme. 

Information is also provided on eligibility for application fee waivers


We recommend you read the information at the following links:


How do I apply

Graduate Admissions Pages

Supporting documentation 

University guide to applying


What happens next

Cambridge hosts an Annual Postgraduate Open Day 


Hopefully most of your questions will be answered.  For other queries contact