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Graduate Admissions

Applying to study for an MPhil or PhD in Chemistry

The Department of Chemistry admits around 80 postgraduate students each year. Most of these are PhD students with around 20 MPhils. All graduate students are enrolled on to our comprehensive Graduate Education programme which underpins our Centre for Advanced Graduate Training and Research. The deadline has passed for applications for entry in October 2017. However, there are still a few PhD opportunties available directly from supervisors

Important Dates

Tuesday 5th September 2017 | University of Cambridge Applicant Portal opens
Friday 20th October 2017 | Graduate Admissions Open Day - Register  Download Poster
Friday 10th November 2017 | Submission deadline for applications from prospective graduates seeking funding.

Graduate Admissions Open Day 2017

Our popular research open day for prospective graduate students will be held on Friday 20 October. It is free to attend and many of our academic members of staff will be present their research. Full details will be sent to those who register.

Entry Requirements

The minimum entrance requirements set by the Department for research degrees are an upper second Honours degree in Chemistry for an MPhil and an upper second MSci or MChem degree (or equivalent) for a PhD. These are higher requirements than the University of Cambridge sets for postgraduate degrees in other departments. Occasionally, exceptions can be made to our requirements based on the length of the undergraduate degree and other factors. Each exception is considered individually. If you are in any doubt about fulfilling the Department of Chemistry entry requirements contact our Graduate Student Coordinator before submitting an application. This will avoid your application being automatically rejected. 

How to Apply

To apply for an MPhil or PhD in Chemistry use the University of Cambridge online Applicant Portal. To complete the submission you will need to have details of your referees, academic transcripts, CV, a completed Chemistry Department Application Form and English language proficiency documentation (if required) ready to upload.  For most applicants the University charges an application fee of £50 (payable on submission).

The online system for entry in October 2018 opens on September 5th 2017. To be considered for Chemistry Department funding and University scholarships your application must be submitted on or before the Department deadline of 10th November 2017.

All shortlisted applicants will be interviewed by at least two academics. We intend to begin making offers as early as December 2017. Applicants who do not wish to apply for funding may apply at any time until June 2018. However, applications received by our deadline will receive priority as well as full consideration for all available funding.

Application Guidance

Our experience is that most successful applications come from people who have researched what they want to study and (in many cases) with whom. Although success in the application process cannot be guaranteed, a well-researched, focused and thoroughly written application is the expectation.

The first task before completing your online application is to identify a research area that interests you. The five Research Interest Groups (RIGs) of Biological, Materials, Physical, Synthetic and Theoretical chemistry are our overarching research themes. You will be asked to indicate which RIG(s) aligns most with your interests on the Chemistry Department Application Form. If you have overlapping interests or find it difficult to decide you may indicate more than one RIG e.g. Biological/Synthesis; Materials/Synthesis; Physical/Theory etc. This may be the case where a particular supervisor you are interested in is engaged in research at the interface.

Once a RIG choice is made, we encourage you to correspond with potential supervisors early and in advance of submitting your application. The Graduate Admissions Open Day is a good opportunity to make connections, as many of the academic supervisors will be here giving talks and meeting prospective students. Do check the table below that your potential supervisor is accepting new group members for Entry 2018. If there is a mutual fit and you have exchanged correspondence then there is space on the Chemistry Department Application Form to name them. If, however, you are flexible in your preference of academic supervisor (within one or two RIGs) there is no need to name anyone at this stage. Your application will not be disadvantaged in anyway.

Christopher Abell
Ali Alavi
Stuart Althorpe
Alex Archibald
Shankar Balasubramanian
Nick Bampos
Paul Barker
Andreas Bender
Gonçalo Bernardes
Jason Chin
Stuart Clarke

Lucy Colwell
Christopher Dobson
Melinda Duer
Matthew Gaunt
Jonathan Goodman
Clare Grey
Chris Hunter
Sophie Jackson
Stephen Jenkins
Rod Jones
Markus Kalberer

David Klenerman
Tuomas Knowles
Steven Lee
Finian Leeper
Jonathan Nitschke
Ian Paterson
Robert Phipps
John Pyle
Erwin Reisner
Oren Scherman

David Spring
Sergei Taraskin
Alexander Thom
Michele Vendruscolo
Silvia Vignolini
David Wales
Andrew Wheatley
Paul Wood
Dominic Wright

Table: Academic supervisors accepting postgraduate students for Entry in October 2018

Financial Support

The Department funds a number of PhD studentships for eligible and supports a large number of candidates through the University Scholarship Competitions. Funding for MPhils is more limited, so make sure you complete the relevant scholarship sections in your application via the Applicant Portal. There is an excellent University online search facility that can help you locate suitable scholarships for both MPhils and PhDs. Different deadlines may apply, however, in order to be put forward for these you will still need to submit your application by the Department's deadline, or the scholarship deadline date whichever is earlier.

Gates Scholarships

If you intend to apply for the Gates Cambridge Scholarships you will need to submit a 1000-word research proposal as part of your application. There are strict early deadlines. Round 1 is for US candidates (resident in the US) and Round 2 is for citizens of all countries other than the USA (except for the United Kingdom) and US citizens normally resident outside the USA. In addition you will need to provide the name of a personal referee in addition to the two academic referees. It is strongly advised that you look carefully at the guidance on the Gates Cambridge website when considering a suitable referee.

International and EU students

The Department has a large international population of researchers and we actively encourage this diversity. However, to avoid applications being rejected automatically check the current criteria set out by the University regarding English language requirements, international qualifications and visas before applying. Please direct any requests for guidance on these matters to our Graduate Student Advisor. If your are an EU student, the University has issued a BREXIT statement. For further information about the wide range of scholarships available to International and EU applicants please see the University Graduate Admissions Funding webpage.

MPhil & Doctoral Training Programmes

In addition to the direct routes into research, the Department also works with MPhil and PhD training programmes. Many of these are fully-funded. There is the MPhil Programme in Micro & Nanotechnology Enterprise and MPhil in Scientific Computing, as well as PhDs in the EPSRC Nano Science & Technology (NanoDTC), Materials, Graphene and Sensor Technologies. PhDs are also available with Cambridge Earth System Science programme. For applicants looking for biological based research opportunities, see the interdisciplinary programmes funded by the BBSRC, the Cambridge Cancer Centre and the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research. Doctoral Training Programmes that the Department is involved with may have earlier (or later) deadlines.