I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn about a wide range of cutting-edge research in the first year of the programme. I worked on diverse projects, learned new techniques and found the best lab for my PhD. It was great that projects were offered in a wide range of areas in world-class labs. I met people who helped me later on during my PhD - spending time in other labs can help you identify useful collaborators. The friends I made on the course not only provided me with support (and laughs!) during my time at Cambridge, but are still good friends now. I started the PhD a better, more confident researcher than I would have done on a three year course. I would definitely do it again.
I'm in my third year and I'm really enjoying my PhD. I work in the Schistosomiasis Research Group, which runs large-scale immunological studies in Africa. My PhD has two elements- lab-based work and fieldwork. I find both incredibly rewarding, and it is wonderful to visit the communities in Africa where we work.
The first year MPhil was a fantastic opportunity to meet other students, and to work in different laboratories. The rotations help you decide what you fin interesting, and you are able to make a much more informed choice about your PhD. One of the best parts of the programme is the huge wealth of opportunities that are available to you as a WT-funded student. The Wellcome trust can support you in whatever you are interested in- from science communication to science policy. They invest a lot of effort in developing you as a researcher, and they really try to help you with your career.
Cambridge is a great place to study- the research here is world class, and the collegiate system provides unrivalled support and social opportunities. I would definitely recommend applying to Cambridge - good luck!
I have found the 4 year programme a great experience (even though when I started you didn't get the masters after the first year!). The core topic sessions gave us a real opportunity to get to grips with what different people were doing in Cambridge and helped us explore what we could get involved in. What was great was that after we found things that interested us the P.Is were really open to meeting up with you to talk more about their work and what you could do in their labs. Most people in my year did at least one rotation with a lab where originally no project had been put together and had a large amount of input in what they did during their time in those labs.
At the end of the first year I got the opportunity to pull together a project that really interested me and have ended up working on something I would never have thought of before I joined the programme. The rotations also meant I knew that as well as liking the supervisor I had picked I really liked the lab I was going into as a whole.
Now that I'm working on the main PhD project I still think that the programme has given me some great opportunities. I have used the contacts I made in the first year through core topics and the rotations to help move my project along in new directions. The techniques I learned in other labs have been really useful and some of them are now used by everyone in my current lab.
Despite not seeing each other as often anymore my year still manage to catch up when we can. It's nice having a group who started with you and who know what you are up to as they can celebrate when things go well and sympathise when things don't go to plan. We all try and get together with the other year groups too every so often and it's always nice seeing what everyone else has made of the programme at the Summer symposium.
If I could go back I would definitely do it all again as it's been a great experience so far and I've ended up in exactly the situation I wanted for my PhD.