Research course

Biological Science (EBI)

University of Cambridge · EMBL - European Bioinformatics Institute

Entry requirements

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK Good II.i Honours Degree.

If your degree is not from the UK, please check International Qualifications to find the equivalent in your country.

We welcome applications from highly qualified students of all nationalities. All applications need to be supported by a minimum of two academic reference letters and are evaluated solely on the basis of qualification and scientific potential.

For information on the programme and how to apply, please refer to the European Bioinformatics Institute website. Please note all applicants must secure a place on the EMBL programme before applying to the University of Cambridge.

Months of entry

January, April, October

Course content

Established in 1983, the EMBL International PhD Programme provides students with the best starting platform for a successful career in science. Characterised by first-class training, internationality, dedicated mentoring and early independence in research, it is among the world's most competitive PhD training schemes in molecular biology. All of EMBL's six outstations participate in the programme.

EMBL-EBI provides a highly collaborative, interdisciplinary environment in which research and service provision are closely allied. We are a world leader in bioinformatics research and service provision, as we are at the centre of global efforts to collect and disseminate biological data. We share a campus with the Wellcome Sanger Institute, 12 miles south of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

EMBL PhD students at EMBL-EBI are members of the University of Cambridge and one of its Colleges. They receive their degree from Cambridge University; the programme is coordinated in Heidelberg with local support at EBI. Please visit the EMBL International PhD Programme pages to learn about how to apply. Please note all applicants must secure a place on the EMBL programme before submitting an application to the University of Cambridge.

EMBL PhD students receive theoretical and practical training and conduct a research project under the supervision of an EMBL faculty member, monitored by a thesis advisory committee. The duration of PhD studies is normally three-and-a-half to four years.

In Year 1 all new PhD students will attend the EMBL Predoctoral Core Course in Molecular Biology in Heidelberg; attend Primers for Predocs; undergo nomination of a thesis advisory committee to monitor student progress, and submit and defend a project proposal.

In Year 2 students will need to submit a second annual report to the thesis advisory committee, participate in the Bioinformatics course and predoc seminar day.

In Year 3 students will need to submit a third annual report to the thesis advisory committee.

In Years 3/4 students will need to write and submit their thesis: PhD awarded following Degree Committee approval and successful completion of an oral examination.

Information for international students

Language Requirement

IELTS (Academic)

Element Score

Listening 7.0

Writing 7.0

Reading 6.5

Speaking 7.0

Total 7.0

TOEFL Internet Score

Element Score

Listening 25

Writing 25

Reading 25

Speaking 25

Total 100


Score: Grade A & B (overall score of 193, with no element lower than 185 plus a Language Centre assessment)


Score: Grade A, B, or C (with at least 200 with no element lower than 185).

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    full time
    36-48 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details