Research course


University of Cambridge · Department of Biochemistry

Entry requirements

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Months of entry

January, October, April

Course content


The course leading to the degree of MPhil is essentially research-based and does not involve assessed instructional courses. Students are based in a research group and undertake research on a topic agreed with the principal investigator (Supervisor). MPhil students also have an Advisor and a Graduate Thesis Panel (GTP), as in the PhD student programme. Students write a MPhil thesis, which is examined via an oral examination involving an Internal and External Examiner. A successful student gains a pass and there are no grades. There is no examined course work. However, as part of the course candidates must complete a short lecture-based course in Michaelmas Term called the "Postgraduate Course in Biochemistry".

The educational aim of the MPhil is to give candidates a solid grounding in modern biochemical and biomedical research techniques and practical experience of a year-long, full-time experimental research project. The course also aims to give experience working as part of a team in an academic environment and gaining skills in scientific communication through both oral presentations and writing.

This course involves a series of lectures covering a variety of useful experimental techniques used in biochemistry and molecular biology. The aim is to familiarize students with a wide range of techniques extending well beyond those that they will immediately encounter in their own research project. Students must also attend a weekly seminar series throughout the year and present their work to the group at least once during this series. We encourage students to take part in a wide range of skills training opportunities available to both Masters and PhD research students.


The educational aims of a PhD in Biochemistry are to acquire and hone skills in experimental design, develop competence in technical skills and refine the ability to interpret scientific data in a logical and meaningful way. To enable such skill development students are expected to engage fully with the relevant scientific and technical literature and to expand and enrich their scientific knowledge through attending research seminars in Biochemistry and other departments. Another educational aim of the programme is to develop competence in the communication of science through oral and written skills.

The PhD thesis describes and interprets fully the work done by the student throughout the research project. To be of acceptable PhD standard the research described in the thesis is expected to make a significant contribution to existing knowledge in the field of study.

At the beginning of their first year in the department students attend an in-house training course of lectures and practicals and after that they choose from the wide range of opportunities available. During the first year, students give a short oral presentation on their project to their peers. Near the end of their first year, students write a dissertation, which is assessed in an oral examination by two Examiners. They are only registered for the PhD after satisfactory performance in this first year.

In their second year, students present their research work progress in poster form in a departmental mini symposium. In the third year, students present their work in a talk to the whole Department. In all years they can take part in events and competitions organised within the Graduate School of Life Sciences and the University.

Department specialisms

Bioenergetics and Metabolism; Microbial Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Plant Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Protein and Nucleic Acid Chemistry; Protein Synthesis and Molecular Cell Biology.

Fees and funding

BBSRC, MRC (quota, CASE, Special, Earmarked), university, college, special scholarships for international students.

Qualification and course duration


part time
60 months
full time
36 months


full time
9 months

Course contact details

Christine Thulborn
01223 766025