The Cambridge Institute for Medical Research (CIMR) is one of the leading research institutions in the UK and provides a unique interface between clinical and basic biomedical science. Its major goal is to determine and understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying human disease. The strength of the institute is that members work on a variety of diseases using a wide range of methodologies which makes it a superb place for graduate training in biological and medical sciences. 22 CIMR PIs are participating in this programme. They are group leaders working on a range of cellular pathways and disease mechanisms, including protein folding, misfolded proteins and disease, intracellular membrane trafficking, genetic disorders, infection and immunity.
This programme has a '1+3 year' structure: the first Masters (MRes) year aims to deliver research experience and training to prepare students for focusing on a PhD topic, but it also offers opportunities to sample multi-disciplinary teaching and research to broaden appreciation of the context in which their own research falls. In the first year, students will rotate in the laboratories of three different contributing supervisors to gain experience of different aspects of CIMR biology and working environments; attend lectures and seminars to gain a critical understanding of the major topics in their area of research; choose from a series of lectures and practicals on research methods; and develop a doctoral research proposal, which is assessed along with other elements, for an MRes degree. Students who successfully pass the MRes year, then move on to do a 3-year PhD project in their chosen lab.
For the first year of the PhD phase of the programme, the students are probationary; they will only be registered for the PhD after successfully completing an assessment exercise (report and viva) at the end of their 1st year as a PhD student. The PhD itself is examined by dissertation and viva.
At the end of their MRes course, students should:
At the end of their PhD, students should additionally:
The basic programme design is 1+3 years, with the first year consisting of 3 laboratory-based projects, each the subject of a 10-week lab-based mini-project with parallel core topic discussion sessions held twice a week, led by a PI faculty member on the programme. Within the first year there is additional training in key areas including information technology, bioinformatics, statistical analysis, computation, confocal and electron microscopy, flow cytometry, DNA sequencing and genotyping, and principles of translation and drug design.
Training in transferable skills will involve: communication skills – oral and written presentations; report, thesis and paper writing; grant application writing, project planning, grant costing and management; interviewing skills and team management; critical analysis of papers and grant applications.
Students select their mini-projects following presentations by supervisors at the start of the year and each term if requested. During each mini-project the student spends 10 weeks in the laboratory of their chosen supervisor. At the end of this period, project outcome and student progress are assessed by means of oral presentation in terms 1 and 2 to all students and faculty, together with a poster presentation in term 3. The projects in terms 1 and 2 also require a written report that is assessed by an independent examiner, and each poster is also assessed by an independent examiner.
|One to one supervision||
During the MRes part of the course students are supervised by the PI or a designated supervisor for the duration of their rotation.
The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision of PhD students.
|Seminars & classes||
Two - Four hours per week
Two - Four hours per week
There are no practicals outside the laboratory-based work.
|Small group teaching||
Two - Four hours per week
This varies according to the lab where students rotate.
Students will be expected to review literature as part of project write-ups and for their mock grant application at the end of the first year.
At the end of the laboratory-based period of research in terms 1 and 2 , the project, its outcome and student progress are assessed by means of oral presentation to all students and faculty. In term 3 there is a poster presentation. The projects in terms 1 and 2 also require a written report that is assessed by an independent examiner, and each poster is also assessed by an independent examiner. Feedback on all three projects is given to the student.
During years 2-4 students give an oral presentation in the summer term to all students and faculty.
At the end of the rotations in terms 1 and 2 students are required to submit a written report and at the end of the 3rd rotation a poster. Independent examiners review the students' work and their reviews are shared with the student at the end of each rotation. In addition during the first year termly reports will be written by the director.
During the main part of the PhD students receive feedback regarding their progress in the form of written termly reports from their supervisor, which are available online.
Moreover, during all four years, verbal feedback will be provided frequently by the project supervisor as part of the day-to-day supervision.
The PhD thesis should not exceed 60,000 words (or 80,000 by special permission of the Degree Committee). These limits exclude figures, photographs, tables, appendices and bibliography. The PhD thesis is examined according to the existing structures of the University of Cambridge.
No thesis is required for the MRes degree.
The timescales, assessment and management follow the existing structures of the University of Cambridge. Before students can enter the 2nd year, they are examined for an MRes (Master of Research). Award of the MRes degree and decision to proceed on the PhD programme involves evaluation of all written reports, a formal project grant proposal and viva voce examination by an internal examiner together with an external university examiner. The examiners provide a report on the outcome of the assessment, their recommendation on registration/progression, and any feedback they wish to provide for the student and supervisor.
All PhD students are required to undergo formal assessment (by written report and viva) at the end of their first year in the PhD stage of the programme. If successful, the student moves from being ‘probationary’ to being registered for the PhD and can proceed with their project.
Universities in the United Kingdom use a centralized system of undergraduate application: University and College Admissions Service (UCAS). It is used by both domestic and international students. Students have to register on the UCAS website before applying to the university. They will find all the necessary information about the application process on this website. Some graduate courses also require registration on this website, but in most cases students have to apply directly to the university. Some universities also accept undergraduate application through Common App (the information about it could be found on universities' websites).
Both undergraduate and graduate students may receive three types of responses from the university. The first one, “unconditional offer” means that you already reached all requirements and may be admitted to the university. The second one, “conditional offer” makes your admission possible if you fulfill some criteria – for example, have good grades on final exams. The third one, “unsuccessful application” means that you, unfortunately, could not be admitted to the university of you choice.
All universities require personal statement, which should include the reasons to study in the UK and the information about personal and professional goals of the student and a transcript, which includes grades received in high school or in the previous university.