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Information for postgraduate supervisors

Guidelines for postgraduate supervisors in the CIMR, and the Departments of Haematology and Medical Genetics


The CIMR Postgraduate Education Committee oversees all matters relating to postgraduate 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.

The departmental representatives are:

Clinical Biochemistry: Folma Buss (Chair CIMR GEC)
Clinical Neuroscience: Peter St. George-Hyslop
Haematology: Randy Read, Elisa Laurenti
Medicine: Paul Lehner
Medical Genetics: Evan Reid
Pathology: Janet Deane


Under the admissions policy of the CIMR GEC, all postgraduate students to be admitted to CIMR, and the Departments of Haematology and Medical Genetics, should be interviewed by a panel of at least 2 people, including either the Principal Investigator, appropriate CIMR GEC representative for the department and/or one other PI (from within CIMR/Haematology/Medical Genetics). A completed interview pro-forma, and a copy of the candidates' CV should be submitted to the CIMR GEC before a candidate can be officially accepted. The interview pro-forma can be downloaded here. Please send completed interview pro-forma and CV to

Students applying for PhD places in competitive schemes (e.g. CIMR / BRC / Infection, Immunity & Inflammation / Stem Cell 4 Yr PhD Programmes and Wellcome Trust Clinical / NIH 3 Year PhD Programmes etc) are routinely interviewed and so will not need to be re-interviewed under this policy. However, students who are self funding or who for example have obtained full/part funding from their government will still need to be interviewed.

Admission codes

For any student applying to work with a PI in the CIMR, or Departments of Haematology and Medical Genetics, it is essential that they use course code MDMR22 for PhD or MDMRM2 for MPhil when submitting their online application via the Applicant Portal. Once a student has been accepted and a supervisor appointed, the student’s course code will be altered to a CIMR/specific department code.

Student guidelines

All new students are given a copy of the ‘Guidelines for postgraduate students in the CIMR, and the Departments of Haematology and Medical Genetics’ at the beginning of their first term. The guidelines can be found on the "Information for current postgraduate students" page or downloaded as a PDF here

Second supervisors

All postgraduate students are required to have a second supervisor. The second supervisor should be a member of academic staff from a collaborating or otherwise related group (outside of the research group, but usually within the University). The second supervisor should be selected during the admission process. 

Termly reports

All postgraduate supervisors are required by the University’s Statutes and Ordinances to submit progress reports on a termly basis, or when a supervisor has concerns about a student’s progress. Reports need to be submitted on the University’s online progress reporting system (Cambridge Postgraduate Supervision Reporting System, CPGSRS). Once submitted, reports are available to the student who may also comment on them. They are also read by the Department/Faculty, Degree Committee, College and Student Registry. Supervisors are encouraged to give an honest appraisal of the student’s progress but to do so in a manner that can be used positively to provide useful feedback.
To access the CGSRS you will need to log into CamSIS ( using your Raven ID and password.

First year reports & viva

The first year report should be between 30-50 pages (50 being the absolute maximum). Students 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 the experimental work (methods, results)
  • discussion, as appropriate to the results obtained
  • experimental plan for the second year
  • references

We recommend that students who started in Michaelmas Term, write their first year reports in July/August. First year vivas will take place in early September. The viva will be conducted by the second supervisor and an external assessor (this will be someone external to the project but within the University). The primary supervisor may also be invited to attend, but only as an observer. Students will be required to give a 10 minute presentation based on the first year report at the start of the viva. The viva assessors will submit a report with their clear recommendation of whether the student can be formally registered for the PhD to the CIMR Postgraduate Education Committee. The template for the first year assessment report can be downloaded here.

Student presentations

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 the student's second year.

Second year assessment and poster session

All students will also be expected to present a poster at the annual CIMR/MBU 2nd Year Poster Session, which usually takes place in May. Any issues surrounding IP/confidentiality should be brought to the attention of the CIMR GEC ( by the primary supervisor. Should it not be possible to display a poster due to IP/confidentiality issues, students will be asked to produce a poster based on a literature review rather than their PhD project.

Students should formally meet with their second supervisor in September to discuss their progress and plans for their final year. Both primary and second supervisors should confirm that the student’s progress is satisfactory, or communicate any difficulties to the CIMR Postgraduate Education Committee (

PhD submission

Students must submit their dissertation for examination within the maximum period of your study.  For full-time students this is 48 months from the initial date of registration (taking into account any periods of authorised intermission). Students who do not submit by this date will be removed from the University’s register of students. Students who are unable to meet their submission deadline must apply to extend their registration date through their Camsis self service account.
The GSLS website provides detailed information about the rules and regulations regarding submission and examination ( Students/Lifecycles/PhD - section-13).


Should you have any queries or require any advice or support relating to postgraduate student matters, please contact either your CIMR GEC departmental representative, or Folma Buss (Chair of the CIMR PGEC). For administrative queries, please contact Amanda Goldsmith ( 


Interview Pro-Forma

First Year Report Template

Student Guidelines

PhD aims

The structure of the PhD course is designed to produce postgraduates with rigorous research and analytical skills, who are exceptionally well-equipped to go onto Postdoctoral research, or employment in industry and the public service.

The PhD course provides:

  • a period of sustained in-depth study of a specific topic;
  • an environment that encourages the student’s originality and creativity in their research;
  • skills to enable the student to critically examine the background literature relevant to their specific research area;
  • the opportunity to develop skills in making and testing hypotheses, in developing new theories, and in planning and conducting experiments; developing practical research skills and learn new state of the art techniques used in biomedical research.
  • the opportunity to expand the student’s knowledge of their research area, including its theoretical foundations and the specific techniques used to study it;
  • the opportunity to gain knowledge of the broader field of biomedical research;
  • an environment in which to develop skills in written work, oral presentation and publishing the results of their research in high-profile scientific journals, through constructive feedback of written work and oral presentations.

PhD learning outcomes

At the end of their PhD course, students should:

  • have a thorough knowledge of the literature and a comprehensive understanding of scientific methods and techniques applicable to their own research;
  • be able to demonstrate originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in their field;
  • have developed the ability to critically evaluate current research and research techniques and methodologies;
  • have self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems;
  • be able to act autonomously in the planning and implementation of research; and
  • have gained oral presentation and scientific writing skills.