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How to apply

Admission as a graduate student in Plant Sciences can be either directly to a Supervisor in the Department (all students and research areas), or by applying to the BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (BBSRC DTP; subject to topic and personal eligibility).

You will need to complete the University's online Applicant Portal; please note that each online application will incur a fee of £50.00. We encourage you to make informal enquiries to one or more supervisors in the Department before you do this.

Admission also requires that you have funding to cover your fees and maintenance, but for those applying for funding from Cambridge, the process varies depending on the particular scheme, as explained below.

Finding a supervisor in the Department

  1. Browse the personal/group pages of the research Group Leaders to check details of their research. If you are not sure which area you are interested in, you can search the list of studentships
  2. If you have a particular interest or project in mind, contact the most appropriate Group Leader to explore the possibility that your plans are of interest to them.
  3. If you are interested in more than one supervisor within this department, you can name them as first and second choice in your application, but if you want to apply to supervisors in different departments, you will have to make separate applications (one to each department).
  4. Because of the need for separate applications for each Department, we encourage you to make informal enquiries first, and if desired, arrange a visit. Only once you have made a firm choice you should complete the University online application form (Applicant Portal).


The University of Cambridge offers up to 20 four-year BBSRC-funded studentships starting each year in October.  A wide range of projects are available across many world-class departments and research institutes under the four broad themes of Basic Bioscience Underpinning Health; Bioenergy & Industrial Biotechnology; Food Security; and World Class Underpinning Bioscience.

In the first 6 months students will complete training in Statistics, Computational and Systems Biology, and Research Skills (New Ways of Working) and undertake two 10-week rotation projects, either at the University or at one of the partner organisations, before progression to their PhD project. Another essential element of the programme is a three month internship which is held outside the laboratory.

UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements will be eligible for a full studentship. Students from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award. Further information about eligibility for BBSRC funding can be found at the following website:

We encourage students who are interested in a research area that is eligible for BBSRC funding to apply for the DTP programme. If students are not successful in their application for the DTP programme they could still be considered for specific projects funded by Trusts (EU) or CHESS (UK or EU).

Students can apply to both the DTP and the Department for a PhD, however two separate applications will need to be made and therefore would incur two application fees.

The Cambridge NERC Earth Systems Science DTP

The University of Cambridge is offering up to fifteen 3.5 year NERC-funded PhD studentships starting in October 2018. A wide range of projects are available across 7 world-class departments and BAS (the British Antarctic Survey) in the region under the broad themes of: Solid-Earth, Climate Science, Biology.  More information on this programme can be found at

Applications open in November for October places and projects.

More details.

University Admission

The online application (Applicant Portal), including full instructions, can be found at Before completing the application, please read the following points:

Are you eligible to apply for admission?

Competition for admission to the University of Cambridge graduate programme is intense. Like all departments in the Graduate School of Life Sciences, we require our graduate entrants to have:

  1. at least a 2.1 in an Honours degree from a UK University or equivalent standard from an EU or Overseas University (e.g. CGPA 3.5/4.0) in a relevant subject.
  2. two outstanding references from senior University staff at your most recent University
  3. fluency in the English language - recent IELTS test with an overall band score of at least 7.0 with not less than 7.0 in speaking, listening and writing, and 6.5 in reading or TOEFL test with a score of 25 in each area.

For more details of the University's academic requirements see the University's admissions requirements.

Which qualification do you want to apply for?

MPhil in Biological Sciences - course code: BLPSM1
PhD - minimum 3 years, maximum 4 full-time - course code: BLPS22
BBSRC DTP MRes/PhD - 4 years, first year MRes (including compulsory courses and 2 rotation projects), followed by PhD - course code: BLPSR1

Sources of funding

  1. Studentships associated with a particular project and/or a named supervisor, for example funded by the Research Councils, industrial partners, or specific Trust funds
  2. BBSRC doctoral training partnership (DTP)
  3. University-wide funding competitions (eg Gates Cambridge Trust, Cambridge Overseas & Commonwealth Trusts, Cambridge Home and EU Scholarships (CHESS) etc - NB these funding competitions all have very early deadlines).
  4. College studentships
  5. External scholarship (eg from your home country)