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We believe that a 4-year PhD programme provides the best training opportunities.
The application process for the 2024 intake of the Wellcome Sanger Institute 4-year PhD Programme will open on Monday 2nd October 2023. The closing date will be Tuesday 28th November 2023 (09:00 GMT). The PhD Interviews Day will be on Monday 22nd January 2024.
The 2024 intake will start the PhD Programme on the 1st October 2024.
Students apply to the programme rather than to specific Faculty members, and spend the first eight months of the programme undertaking three rotation projects in different research groups. This ensures exposure to different disciplines in genomics, and allows the students to gain a better overall picture of the scientific nature of the Institute and the different technologies that are available. In particular, all students are required to carry out at least one informatics rotation and one experimental laboratory rotation. This helps students to develop wide ranging skills both at the bench and in data analysis. Students are required to write a short report or prepare a poster, and make a presentation to the group, at the end of each project. Selection of the final PhD project laboratory is by mutual consent between the student and supervisor and takes place during the third rotation period.
Monitoring of each student’s progress is achieved through the submission of a project report or the preparation of a poster for each rotation, their first year report, their third year thesis plan and by thesis committee meetings which take place at least once per year.
During their PhD, students are expected to attend training courses in transferable and general research skills, participate in the students’ journal club, present their work regularly and attend seminars.
Students offered one of our 4-year PhD programme funded studentships will obtain full financial support, including University tuition fees, regardless of nationality. There are 12 funded studentships available across all our research areas. Any students with their own external studentship funding are still expected to apply to the 4-year PhD Programme in the usual way.
Our funded studentships provide full financial support, including University tuition fees, regardless of nationality. Visa and immigration health surcharge costs will be reimbursed for international students. Current tax-free stipends paid by the Wellcome Sanger Institute are shown below.
Financial support as of October 2023
1st year £23,955 p.a.
2nd year £24,525 p.a.
3rd year £25,096 p.a.
4th year £25,666 p.a.
🧬 Supervision and monitoring
Each student has a PhD supervisor from within the Institute’s Faculty who provides day-to-day supervision of their research. They also benefit from a co-supervisor (academic adviser), selected from the University of Cambridge, who works in a similar or complementary discipline and meets regularly with the student.
Postgraduate students at the Institute are monitored and managed by the Committee of Graduate Studies, which meets regularly, together with support from dedicated administrative personnel. Monitoring of each student’s progress is achieved through the submission of a project report/poster for each rotation, their first year report, their third year thesis plan and thesis committee meetings which take place at least once per year.
The thesis committee, which consists of the principal supervisor, the co-supervisor (academic adviser) and one or two additional Sanger Institute Faculty members, primarily serves as a scientific advisory board for the student throughout their PhD work. Its function is to offer comments, advice and support to the student in order to ensure that the thesis can be completed in an appropriate time frame and with the best possible output. In addition to the student’s own research group, the thesis committee provides an independent forum for scientific discussion.
Students are expected to complete their research and submit their thesis within the 4-year time frame of the award. At this point each student must give a formal Sanger Institute seminar.
✏️ Training opportunities
eSCAMPS 2023 Committee
Students on our 4-year PhD Programme are expected to attend training courses in transferable and general research skills such as:
Health and safety
Postgraduate lecture series (approx 30 lectures by Sanger Faculty members)
Next generation sequencing
Research integrity, reproducible research and ethics
Scientific writing skills
Communication and public engagement
A wide range of courses are also run on site for which students are eligible. As members of the University of Cambridge, students have access to lecture courses run by University departments, courses run by the Postgraduate School of Life Sciences and University facilities such as the library and the careers service. There is also an excellent library on site at the Institute.
There is a fortnightly journal club which all students, except those in their final year, are expected to attend, and students are expected to participate in the programme of journal clubs and research talks within their own research division.
There is a very active academic seminar programme on site. Also students have the opportunity to meet and have informal discussions over lunch with speakers in our Distinguished Lecture Series. In addition, relevant seminar programmes within the University are widely advertised, and students are encouraged to attend.
All students have the opportunity to present their work regularly to their group. Approximately half way through their research, students have to present their work at a PhD Student Presentations Day. In the final year, once students have submitted their thesis, they are required to present their work at a Sanger Institute seminar. In addition, students are encouraged to present their work at both national and international scientific meetings, and we provide up to £1500 per year to enable them to attend such meetings.
Students at the Institute are encouraged to organise their own events such as the EBI-Sanger Cambridge PhD Symposium (eSCAMPS). This meeting brings together students from the whole Cambridge area and gives them the opportunity to present their work to their peers and listen to a number of world renowned keynote speakers. Organising such a meeting (liaising with speakers, seeking sponsorship, managing logistical arrangements etc) allows the students involved to develop their networking, communication and management skills.
📲 How to apply
You have to apply to the programme rather than to specific Faculty members.
If you need further assistance, contact the Postgraduate Programme Office. Please note that the Postgraduate Programme Office is unable to comment on whether you are a suitable candidate for our 4-year PhD programme.
Candidates are expected to hold, or be about to achieve, a 1st or a good 2:1 class degree or an equivalent overseas qualification.
If overseas applicants, who have not studied in the UK or EU, have GRE scores, they should include them in their application, as the results from this standardised test enable us to more easily compare applicants from different countries.
Competence in English
If your first language is not English you will need to meet the University of Cambridge’s English language requirements, although you do not have to fulfil this requirement before submitting your online application to the Wellcome Sanger Institute. However, if you are offered a place on our programme, you will need to fulfil this requirement before you can be admitted to the University of Cambridge.
You need to complete the Wellcome Sanger Institute on-line application form.
The application process for the 2024 intake will open on Monday 2nd October 2023. The closing date is Tuesday 28th November 2023 (09:00 GMT).
When completing the on-line application form you will need to:
Provide details of your academic qualifications
Outline any relevant work experience (max 200 words)
Choose 3 Faculty members whose research area interests you (see our potential supervisors page for information on Faculty members and their research areas)
Outline your research interests and indicate how these fit with the research interests of the Sanger Institute (max 200 words)
Write a personal statement on your research experience, research interests and career goals, explaining why you wish to pursue postgraduate training at the Sanger Institute (max 400 words)
Provide details of two academic referees (one of these can be the supervisor of an industrial or research placement)
Upload your University transcript(s) (and GRE scores if available) as a PDF file
You should request and receive your transcript(s) from your institution (in a form that can be embedded in a document) before you begin your application so that you have them ready to upload. If you are currently studying you should upload a transcript with the marks you have obtained so far.
Once you have completed the first page of the application form, a URL with a unique identifier will be generated, which you should bookmark. If you want to continue the application process at a later time you can use this URL to return to your incomplete form.