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Graduate School of Life Sciences

An inspiring educational experience in a unique environment

Studying at Cambridge


Application Information


How to apply

Cambridge operates an online application system for graduate students.  Some programmes require applicants to initially submit an informal application (CV and personal statement).  Applicants should refer to the programme specific information for guidance on application and entry requirements. If you wish to take a research degree (PhD or MPhil by thesis), the department or institution you study in will be determined by the topic you want to study and the academic researcher(s) you would like to be your research supervisor. You are strongly advised to contact potential supervisors to discuss the possibility of working with them BEFORE completing the application form.  You can find out about potential supervisors by searching the research themes database.

Information on how to apply can be found on the Graduate Admissions website.  Please read the guidance available before submitting an application.  Once you have submitted an application you can track its progress online using your user name and password.  You can look up your fee status (whether you will pay tuition fees at the 'UK/EU' rate or at the 'Overseas' rate). 

Application Deadlines

The deadline for applying for admission is generally set by the programme or the funding competition for which you are applying; find these details on the programme or department website for their competition closing dates and if you want to apply for University-wide funding see the Graduate Admissions website.  Otherwise, GRADSAF applications must be submitted no later than three months before the start of your course (30 June, 30 September or 31 December for starting in October January or April respectively). On these dates, the online application form will be withdrawn from the web.


Academic requirements 

The Graduate School of Life Sciences applies the University's standard entrance requirements for graduate studies.

Competition for a place on many programmes in Life Sciences is fierce. While the minimum degree required for entry is the equivalent of an upper second in a Bachelor's Honours degree, please be aware that some courses require a first class degree and/or a masters degree.

In very exceptional cases, applications may be considered from mature candidates with a lower first degree, or none, providing they have significant professional experience in a relevant field.This work need not have led to a postgraduate degree, but a good masters degree will generally be accepted as raising a candidate above the entry bar Where such a candidate applies for a research degree,we are normally looking for postgraduate research experience in a topic related to the PhD, supported by a good reference from the senior supervisor of the work, and/or evidence of peer-reviewed publications arising from the work.

Clinically qualified candidates with unclassed medical degrees who are applying for a research degree should present evidence of training in scientific research; if applying for a mainly taught MPhil, significant relevant postgraduate professional experience is normally expected.

English Language requirements

English Language test requirements are currently the same for all courses offered in Life Sciences (these are an absolute requirement):

IELTS: Overall band score of 7.0, with not less than 7.0 in speaking, listening and writing, and 6.5 in reading

TOEFL: internet-based test 100 with a minimum score of 25 in each element

CAE: (Certificate of Advanced English)  grade A is required in the first instance, although applicants must then also be assessed by the University Language Centre before admission can be confirmed.

CPE: (Certificate of Proficiency in English) Grade A or B required.

You must achieve the minimum requirements in the same test and this must be no more than two years before the start of the course.  For further information please go to the Graduate Admissions relevant webpage.


The Application Process 

 Once your application is submitted it is reviewed by the relevant Department/Institution, Faculty and finally the Board of Graduate Studies.  The Department/Institution you applied to, the Faculty Degree Committee and the University must all agree to accept you before an offer can be made by the University. A letter from the Department does NOT constitute an offer of admission to the University, although it may offer funding conditional on being accepted by the University.

The only valid offer of admission to the University is a letter from the Board of Graduate Studies. The formal offer specifies the course offered, the starting date, duration, and topic.

Conditions of the offer

Almost all offers are CONDITIONAL in the first instance; you must not attempt to take up your place till ALL conditions have been met and you have received a CONFIRMATION OF ADMISSION letter from the Board of Graduate Studies. The conditions of your offer will be set out in your Self-Service. You should make plans to meet these as soon as possible and by 31 July at the latest for an October starting date. You will also be reminded of any documents missing from your original application through Self-Service.

Documents required to meet the conditions of your offer should be sent directly to the Board of Graduate Studies, 4 Mill Lane, Cambridge CB2 1RZ, NOT TO THE DEPARTMENT

Queries related to an offer

Always look first at your Self-Service, as this offers guidance on most topics of relevance to your application and provides links to other information sources. If after doing this you still need help regarding the offer, the conditions set, and ATAS clearance for visas you should contact the Board of Graduate Studies (opens in new tab/window).

College offers

As soon as the offer letter has been sent, your papers will be sent to your College of first choice (or to the first available College, if you have made an 'open' application'). If this College cannot offer a place, your application will be forwarded to the next in line. Which College is considering your papers, and whether an offer has been made, will appear in Self-Service.

Cambridge Trusts applications
If you are eligible for Gates Cambridge Trust or Cambridge Overseas Trusts funding, your application will automatically be forwarded to the Trusts.

If you are unsuccessful

If the Department or Institute cannot offer you a place, you will see this first in Self-Service, and you will then receive an email letter formally advising you of the outcome from the Board of Graduate Studies. The Board is unable to give feedback on unsuccessful applications. The University does not conduct reviews of academic decisions by Departments or Institutes, but if you consider that you have been unfairly treated, you should contact Graduate Admissions.


If you need a visa to study in the UK, you will find all the information you need on the Graduate Admissions website.  The process of applying for a visa and entry clearance can take a long time; you must therefore submit your applications for admission to the University well enough in advance of the starting date of your course to allow for any such delays.

You will need funding to cover the whole period of your course, for tuition fees (the 'University Composition Fee'), College Fees and living (maintenance) costs. The minimum amounts required are set out in the University's Graduate Studies Prospectus (opens in new tab/window). NB the tuition fees for all graduate degrees in Life Sciences are currently charged at the Science rate, even if you wish to study in the School of Clinical Medicine).

Welcome to the Graduate School of Life Sciences

We are the largest centre for research and professional training in the Life Sciences in the UK, offering a very special experience to a community of around 2000 graduate students across departments within the School of the Biological Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine and eleven University Partner Institutes in the Cambridge area.

Every year some of the world's brightest and most determined students are attracted by the opportunity to carry out research projects with renowned scientists in a vibrant, multidisciplinary environment at one of the world's most respected research-led universities.

The School co-ordinates funding opportunities within the Life Sciences for their postgraduate education, as well as ensuring students receive the highest quality supervision and training.