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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

Graduate students are required to make an online application through the University’s Graduate Admissions office. For full details please see:

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:i honours degree from a UK university or an equivalent standard from an overseas university. For details on international qualifications please see:
  2. two outstanding references from senior University staff at your most recent University
  3. competence in the English language. For details please see:

For full details on the University’s entry requirements please visit

Which qualification do you want to apply for?

MPhil in Biological Sciences (Plant Sciences) ( 1 year full-time/2 years part-time) - course code: BLPSM1 
PhD in Plant Sciences (minimum 3 years, maximum 4 years full-time) - course code: BLPS22 
BBSRC DTP PhD in Biological Sciences (4 years full-time) – course code: BLPSR1

Sources of funding

You will be required to demonstrate that you are able to meet the minimum financial commitment of your course. For details please see

Sources of funding include:

  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 and Cambridge Trusts)
  4. College studentships
  5. External scholarship (eg from your home country)

Please note that funding deadlines often differ to course application deadlines and you should check relevant deadlines very carefully. For detailed information on funding please visit the University’s Graduate Admissions website -