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Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute



Information for Current Postgraduate Students in the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute (CSCI)


Current COVID-19 guidance for postgraduate students:

For current University of Cambridge guidance on Covid-19, please visit the Stay Safe page here.

Further information is also available on the main University of Cambridge Covid-19 information pages here.

The current guidelines for research in the JCBC are available here.


Useful documents

Induction documents:


About the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute (CSCI)

The CSCI comprises 30 Principal Research Groups, each one affiliated to a department of the University of Cambridge. All postgraduate students within the CSCI fall under principal supervision of a Research Group Leader and are therefore also affiliated to the group leaders' affiliated department.

Postgraduate School of Life Sciences (PSLS)

The PSLS looks after the educational and career needs of postgraduate 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 ( 

Researcher Developer Training 

Researcher Development encompasses all the learning and development that you might wish to experience and acquire during your time at Cambridge. It provides you with skills you need right now to progress through your PhD, as well for your future, whatever that might look like. The Researcher Development team provides a diverse programme of activities and online resources for PhD students, as well as acting as a hub for the coordination of Researcher Development provision in the University. For more information, please visit the Researcher Development website

CSCI Postgraduate Education Committee (PEC)

The CSCI Postgraduate Education Committee oversees all matters relating to postgraduate students in the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute and the Department of Haematology. This includes the admissions process, progress reports, examinations and reviews. The committee comprises representation of Group Leaders across the CSCI, and one student representative.

CSCI Postgraduate Student Committee (PSC)

The CSCI Postgraduate Student Committee is formed of current students and led by the CSCI Student Representative. This Committee meet on a regular basis to discuss events / seminars / training that they would like to organise, and have their own annual budget to do so. Please contact the Committee leads, Seun Ogundele (oo270) or Jethro Lundie-Brown (jal228), if you would like to be involved. 

Principal Supervisor

Each student will formally have a Principal Supervisor. Your Principal Supervisor guides you in the choice of research project, in defining aims and strategies, and in acquiring the skills you need for your project and to prepare you for your future career. 

Postgraduate Advisor

All postgraduate students at the University of Cambridge should have a Postgraduate Advisor recorded on CamSIS. They must be a University employee. This Advisor is a second point of contact re: academic advice (after the Principal Supervisor). Your Advisor may be an Assessor for your First-Year-Assessment, provided that there is no potential for a conflict of interest. 

Thesis Committee

All postgraduate students at the CSCI are expected to have a PhD Thesis Committee in place, whom you can go to for additional advice/feedback about your project/progress etc. The thesis committee comprised of 2-3 PIs (at least one of which should be a CSCI PI) plus the supervisor, should meet with the student at least twice annually to monitor progress and to provide feedback and advice to the student and supervisor.  

Information for MPhil Students

Students registered for the MPhil in Biological Science (Stem Cell Biology), will be required to submit a thesis of not more than 20,000 words. You must submit your dissertation for examination within the maximum period of your study - you will have been given a date and time by which your thesis must be submitted to your Degree Committee (MPhil by research submission deadline is 4pm on 02/09/2024, for Oct-2023 starters).  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.

The examination will 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.

The PSLS website provides additional information for current students on their Moodle site ( Further information can also be found at

Information for 4-Year (1+3) Stem Cell PhD Programme Students

Students registered on the Four-Year (1+3) PhD Programme in Stem Cell Biology and Medicine will undertake, and be examined for, an MRes in Stem Cell Biology at the end of the first year of the programme. Assessment for the MRes is based on a ‘portfolio format’, which includes:

  • Submission of three lab rotation reports;
  • Assessment of these reports and feedback from the rotation supervisors;
  • A PhD proposal;
  • An oral examination (viva) on the above outputs, with two internal and one external examiner.

Progression to the PhD is upon successful completion of the MRes, and recommendation to progress to the PhD. Please then see the information below 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 (NOTAF). 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 the first year and a viva defending the report (including a 10 minute presentation at the start of the viva). This whole assessment to be completed before the start of your 4th term at Cambridge.

First Year Report

The first year report must be submitted by the end of the tenth month to allow time for the whole assessment to be completed before the start of your 4th term at Cambridge. 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:

i.        a short abstract
ii.        introduction, a review of the relevant literature
iii.       results section, a description of your experimental work (methods, results)
iv.       discussion, as appropriate to the results obtained
v.        experimental plan for the second year
vi.       references.

Copies of your report are required for both examiners, plus one for your primary supervisor.

First Year Viva

You will be required to defend your first year report, in month 10-11 of your studies. The viva will be conducted by at least two Assessors, neither of whom is your Principal Supervisor or second Supervisor (if appointed). Your Graduate Advisor may be an Assessor, provided that there is no potential for a conflict of interest. If you are part of a research group, at least one Assessor will be from outside your immediate group.

You will be required to give a 10 minute presentation based on your first year report at the start of the viva. The viva assessors will then submit a report with their recommendation of whether you should be formally registered for the PhD to the supervisor, and subsequently to the CSCI Postgraduate Administrator (). 

Presentation of Work

All students will be expected to present their projects at the annual CSCI PhD Symposium (students in years 2 and 3 are expected to present a poster. Those entering their final year are expected to present a talk). There will also be opportunities to present your work at the CSCI weekly internal seminars.

PhD Submission

You must submit your 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.

'Intention to Submit': Approximately 2 months before you plan to submit, you should complete an online 'Intention to Submit' form (link at the top of this page). This will initiate the process of appointment of your examiners.

'Word Limits': The thesis for the PhD is not to exceed 60,000 words in length (80,000 by special permission of the Degree Committee). These limits exclude figures, photographs, tables, appendices and bibliography. Lines to be double or one-and-a-half spaced; pages to be double or single sided.

Once you've submitted your thesis, the examination packs will be posted to the examiners by the Degree Committee. It is normally the Internal Examiner who should then liaise with you and the External Examiner to organise the viva.
After your viva, once the examiners' reports have been returned to the Degree Committee, your case is included in the agenda for the next Degree Committee meeting. After the case has been reviewed by the Degree Committee, a formal recommendation is passed to the Board of Graduate Studies, who will notify you formally of the outcome.

The PSLS website provides further information for current students, on their Moodle site ( More information can be found at


The Cambridge Stem Cell Institute regard all forms of bullying, harassment and victimisation as unacceptable. It is the responsibility of each member of the Institute, both staff and students, to assist in promoting an environment of mutual respect and consideration.

If you are experiencing difficulty with any aspect of your work or outside life as a student, there are several sources of support. You may wish to speak with either of your supervisors in the first instance, your college tutor, the CSCI Postgraduate Administrator, members of the CSCI Student Committee, members of the CSCI Postgraduate Education Committee or one of our Wellbeing Champions. Alternatively, you may wish to get in touch with one of the University’s Student Support contacts, details of which can be found at and

Useful Links

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University’s expectations
regarding supervision.

Information for Current Students:

PSLS Moodle for Current Students: (requires RAVEN login)