PhDs at the Babraham Institute

PhD opportunities at the Institute are typically open for applications between September and early December of the year prior to the start of your studies. For details of currently available projects, go to the PhD opportunities page.

The Babraham Institute is a world-leader in fundamental biological research investigating the systems that underpin development and healthy ageing. We support full time PhD students on three to four year studentships. Our graduate training provision has consistently received excellent evaluations in external assessments and we are committed to ensuring that every student receives high quality training and support during their time here. Part time PhD positions, or positions for Masters students, to study at the Institute will be considered on a case by case basis (please contact for more information).

The Institute supports talented individuals, from diverse backgrounds, to develop the skills and knowledge they need to get the best start in a scientific career. As well as supporting you to become a world-class experimental scientist, we provide many opportunities to gain transferrable skills that can help you towards success on a range of career paths.

As a student, you will join one of our research groups, working within and between our strategic research programmes. Under the guidance of your supervisor, you will take the lead on a project that contributes to our overall research goals. By working alongside experienced scientists with a wide range of backgrounds and expertise you will learn experimental techniques and acquire new abilities in critical thinking, experimental design and hypothesis-driven investigation.

All students at the Institute become part of a supportive and inclusive community of around 50 graduate students. You will receive quality mentoring from established researchers at the Institute and you will have access to the expertise of all of the Institute’s researchers and specialist science facilities.

All PhD students at the Institute are registered with, and obtain their final qualification from, the University of Cambridge. Find out more on our affiliation page. 

Support during your studies

Graduate training and the needs and interests of our graduate students are overseen and represented by our Graduate Committee, which includes representatives from across the Institute, including researchers, grants and HR as well as student representatives from all strategic programmes. Each PhD student has a particular member of the committee as their pastoral mentor, who provides a confidential point of contact for issues around health, wellbeing, motivation, career development etc.

Each student has their own personal committee, to mentor them through their studies. The committee consists of a supervisor, mentor, assessor and university supervisor.

  • Your supervisor is typically the leader of your research group and will be an expert in your research area, having devised the initial project that you will be working on.
  • Your mentor will also have specialist knowledge of your project and provides an accessible point of contact for discussion of technical issues.
  • Your assessor is another senior researcher, they provide an independent opinion of your work.
  • Finally, university supervisors are part of the University of Cambridge and provide links to the University as well as a further source of complementary knowledge related to your research.

We have recently introduced a new Student Buddy system to help new students successfully integrate into our student community. The aim of the scheme is to provide new PhD students with a peer who can be a first point of contact for practical advice and support and to signpost them in the right direction if further help is needed.

The Institute also has an equality and diversity programme (equality4success) that supports healthy work-life balance and equal access to facilities and opportunities for everyone at the Institute. They are also available to help you to make the most of your time here and to enjoy studying at the Babraham Institute.


The graduate programme includes a system of formal review throughout your study to ensure continued advancement towards a successful final examination. At each stage, reports are reviewed by a student’s personal committee and progress is reported to the Graduate Committee. Key assessment points include:

  • 2 months – A short report clearly establishing the agreed aims of the research project and the resources/equipment required for its completion.
  • 8 months – A Registration Report laying out initial progress and any complications that have arisen. Candidates are formally registered as PhD students by the University following successful completion of this stage.
  • 18 months – A report detailing progress so far.
  • 24 months – A Thesis Plan outlining completed work and work still to do. For students on 4-year programmes, the Plan is subsequently revised and updated after 36 months.
  • Final thesis – Before the end of four years students are expected to complete a PhD Thesis, which is submitted to the University for examination. The thesis is typically reviewed by at least two examiners and is then discussed in detail with the student in a viva voce interview-style examination which typically lasts several hours.



Presenting your work

Sharing your findings through posters and oral presentations is a critical part of any research career. During your time at the Institute, we will help you to develop your skills in data presentation, preparing presentations and in public speaking to ensure you are well-equipped for this aspect of research.

All research groups typically have regular group meetings to discuss progress and results. You will typically present to your research group at least once in your first year. During the second year, students present to the Graduate Programme and then present to the whole Institute in the third year. First, second and third year students contribute to the Institute’s annual Poster Day, while third and fourth year students may be selected for our Lab Talks programme.

Throughout your studies there may be many other opportunities to present too, including to specialist, non-specialist and public audiences. This includes attending national and international research conferences in relevant fields and you are encouraged to apply for travel grants to help you attend these.

Institute Life

The Babraham Institute is a world class Research Institute, situated at the heart of the Babraham Research Campus, near Cambridge, in an impressive countryside location bordered by trees and the River Granta. A commuter bus operates between central Cambridge and the Institute, which is free for PhD students. Babraham is much more than a place to work. It is a vibrant and unique community. A wide selection of food and drink is available on Campus throughout the day. There is an active Sports and Social Club that acts as a social centre for the Campus. The Institute cares very much about the wellbeing of its staff and provides a range of resources and initiatives to support Wellbeing.


What do our PhD students have to say

"The Babraham Institute is special as it is such a unique and beautiful setting to undertake a PhD. It's great to have so much outdoor space available for meetings or breaks from the lab. The support staff and facilities at the Institute create a great environment to undertake research. The staff are really friendly and knowledgeable meaning they are an invaluable resource during your PhD."

Marian Jones Evans, Ross lab

"Apart from working alongside some of the greatest researchers in the field, the Babraham Institute provides its students many opportunities to develop themselves as independent researchers. There are many good biotech companies on site, which makes it accessible to do collaborative research and get experience of the industry even before completing the PhD degree. The beautiful and spacious campus is also something students enjoy alongside their PhD work."

Priota Islam, Ross lab

"What drew me to the Institute was their impeccable success of creating world-leading scientists. As an international student with a family abroad, it is really important to feel welcomed and feel part of a community and the Babraham Institute completely delivers on that."

Tombi Makuyana, Liston lab

"One of the best things about the Institute’s partnership with the University of Cambridge is the fact that you belong to a college. Within that college, you can meet different people either from science, or other areas, all doing PhDs or Masters courses, so you can really meet a variety of different people."

Neesha Kara, Houseley lab

"Throughout my PhD, there were many opportunities to develop transferable skills and technical skills, the facilities on the site offer a wide range of training courses allow us to learn how to use the equipment and actually perform the experiments ourselves. This will be highly useful in my future career plans."

Diljeet Gil, Reik lab


Further Information

Babraham Research Campus

Why Cambridge? Discover a Career in Science

Life as a PhD Student

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