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Information for current graduate students


Guidelines for graduate students in the CIMR and the Departments of Haematology and Medical Genetics

Welcome to the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research (CIMR). The following notes are intended to provide you with the general organisation and annual assessment framework for your graduate studies.

About CIMR

The CIMR is a cross-departmental institute, within the University of Cambridge Clinical School, that is housed in the Wellcome Trust/MRC Building on the Addenbrooke's Hospital Site of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

It provides a unique interface between basic and clinical science that underpins its high level objective of determining and understanding the molecular mechanisms of disease.  Currently, CIMR comprises approximately 250 scientists, about a quarter of whom are graduate students.  They are organised into around 40 research groups each led by a Principal Investigator (PI) who, along with their group members, is also a member of one of six home University departments (Medicine, Pathology, Medical Genetics, Clinical Biochemistry, Haematology or Clinical Neurosciences).

CIMR Graduate Education Committee

The CIMR Graduate Education Committee oversees all matters relating to graduate students in the CIMR and the Departments of Haematology and Medical Genetics. This includes the admissions process, progress reports, examinations and reviews. The committee comprises of representatives from each of the departments within CIMR.

Graduate School of Life Sciences

The Graduate School of Life Sciences looks after the educational and career needs of graduate students and early career researchers in the Faculties of Biology, Clinical Medicine and Veterinary Medicine and their affiliated institutes. You will find a huge amount of useful information on their website about courses, lectures and university requirements. You will also need to familiarise yourself with your log book, which you should begin filling in right away, as it contains requirements regarding transferable skills training. You can download the log book from the GSLS website.

This log book will periodically be assessed by your supervisor and as part of your ongoing assessment.


Each student will have a primary supervisor and a second supervisor (sometimes called an ‘adviser’ or ‘mentor’). Your supervisor guides you in the choice of research project, in defining aims and strategies, and in acquiring the skills you need for this project and to prepare you for your future career. Your second supervisor will be a member of academic staff from a collaborating or otherwise related group (outside of your immediate research group, but usually within the University). The role of the second supervisor is to complement the supervisor, being available when the supervisor is absent or providing expert advise on specific scientific areas of the research project, and to mentor and help in case of individual difficulties. The second supervisor will also lead your yearly assessments. Your second supervisor should be selected during the admissions process.

Information for MPhil Students



Students registered for the MPhil in Medical Science, will be required to submit a thesis of not more than 20,000 words. The examination will also include an oral examination on the thesis and general field of knowledge within which it falls. The oral examination will be conducted by an External Examiner and an internal examiner.
Full regulations for the Master of Philosophy can be found in Chapter V11, Section 13 of the University’s Ordinances ( 

Information for 4 Year PhD Programme Students

Students registered on a 4 year PhD programme based in CIMR will undertake, and be examined for, an MRes in Medical Science during the first year of the programme. Assessment for the MRes is based on a ‘portfolio format’, which includes:

  • Submission of reports and other outputs of the lab rotations;
  • Assessment of these and feedback given at the time;
  • A PhD proposal/mock grant application;
  • An oral examination on the collected output (‘portfolio’) with two Examiners

After successful completion of the MRes, and recommendation to progress, students will continue to the PhD element of the programme.  Please see below information for PhD students.

Information for PhD Students

First Year Assessment

 Students are not formally registered for the PhD until the end of the first year. The recommendation to approve students for formal registration is made on the basis of the first year assessment. This assessment considers the preparation of a report at the end of your first year, a viva defending the report (including a 10 minute presentation at the start of the viva), and the log book.

First Year Report

The first year report should be between 30-50 pages (50 being the absolute maximum). You should be allocated approx. 2 weeks protected time to complete the report. The report should consist of:

  • a short abstract
  • introduction, a review of the relevant literature
  • results section, a description of your experimental work (methods, results)
  • discussion, as appropriate to the results obtained
  • experimental plan for the second year
  • references

Three copies of your report will be required, plus one for your primary supervisor

First Year Viva

You will be required to defend your first year report in September. The viva will be conducted by your second supervisor and an external assessor (this will be someone external to your project but within the university). Your primary supervisor will also be invited to attend as an observer. You will be required to give a 10 minute presentation based on your first year report at the start of the viva. You will also need to bring your log book to this meeting. The viva assessors will then submit a report with their recommendation of whether you can be formally registered for the PhD to the CIMR Local Graduate Education Committee (

Presentation of Work

All students will be expected to present their projects at either the CIMR Internal Seminar Series, the CIMR Research Retreat, departmental seminar series, or programme symposia. These talks should be given by the end of your second year and recorded in your log book.

Second Year Assessment

You will formally meet with your second supervisor to discuss your progress and plans for your final year. This should take place at the end of your second year, usually in September. Both supervisors should confirm that your progress is satisfactory, or communicate any difficulties to the CIMR Graduate Education Committee. You will also be expected to present a poster at the annual CIMR/MBU 2nd Year Poster Session.

PhD Submission

The University’s Statutes and Ordinances state that your PhD dissertation must be submitted not later than the last day of the fourth year after you were registered as a full-time student, or the last day of the seventh year if you are part-time. Further information can be found in Chapter VII, Section 12 of the University’s Ordinances (


If you are experiencing difficulty with any aspect of your work or outside life as a graduate student, there are several sources of support. You may wish to speak with either of your supervisors in the first instance, your college tutor, or with members of the CIMR Local Graduate Education Committee. Alternatively, you may wish to contact one of the universities welfare offices, details of which can be found from and




Dr Folma Buss
Chair of the CIMR Graduate Education Committee and
Director of Graduate Studies for CIMR
Tel: 01223 763348

PhD Administrator
Claudia Allmendinger