Postgraduate Research at Barts Cancer Institute

At Barts Cancer Institute (BCI) we have over 100 research students, consisting of both scientists and clinicians, working on a wide range of projects across the Institute. We offer the following research programmes:

  • PhD (non-clinical)
  • PhD (clinical)
  • MD(Res)

We offer a comprehensive support programme for our research students, providing training in a wide range of biomedical laboratory methods and other vital transferable skills. Our aim is to equip students for a career in science and to make them attractive to a variety of potential employers.

Funded Studentships

Each year we offer around 10-15 new PhD studentships funded from a variety of sources, including UK Research Councils and various charities. These are advertised throughout the year. Please visit our Opportunities section for current studentships.

We also have the following studentship programmes running each year:

Cancer Research UK Non-Clinical PhD studentships & Clinical Research Fellowships

  • This training programme, part of a multimillion pound award from Cancer Research UK (CRUK), aims to develop a cohort of scientists equipped both intellectually and technically to conduct the highest quality research in cancer.
  • Applicants will be able to select from a variety of projects offered by our research centres
  • This programme is usually advertised in September/October each year

MRC combined MRes and PhD Doctoral Training Partnership Programme in Translational Biomedical Sciences

  • Delivered in partnership with the University of Southampton
  • Students will complete an MRes in year 1 before progressing to a PhD
  • The MRes will involve 3 taught modules and 3 rotational projects.
  • Students will then select one of their MRes rotational projects as the subject of their PhD
  • Find out more and read about some student experiences
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Speculative PhD/MD(Res)

If you have already secured your own funding and would like to register for a PhD with Barts Cancer Institute, please look at our research areas and contact some potential supervisors to discuss a suitable project.

If you are unsure, or require further academic assistance please contact Dr Sarah-Anne Martin (Director of Graduate Studies), who will be able to advise you further.

Once you have identified a suitable project and supervisor please submit an online application. You will be required to provide the following supporting documents:

  • Confirmation of funding for the duration of the PhD/MD(Res)
  • Research Proposal
  • Statement of Purpose (usually one side of A4)
  • CV
  • Degree transcripts
  • 2 references (at least one of these must be an academic reference)
  • English Language certificate (if applicable)

You will need to secure funding for:

  • 3 years for a PhD (or part time equivalent
  • 2 years for an MD(Res) (or part time equivalent)

Funding will need to cover:

  • Tuition Fees
  • Project consumables (to be agreed by the supervisor)
  • Living costs (approximately £15,000 per annum)

For any general enquiries please contact the BCI Teaching Office.

Entry Requirements

Advertised studentships will include details of any specific entry requirements. General entry requirements for our research programmes are given below.


All applicants should have or be expecting:

  • A first or upper second class honours degree in a relevant biological subject from a UK university or the international equivalent from a recognised institution. For international equivalencies please see Queen Mary International Office. Or;
  • A medical degree from a recognised institution
Clinical Research Fellows

All applicants must have:

  • A medical degree from a recognised institution
  • Full GMC registration
  • Clinical experience relevant to the post
  • Research experience relevant to the project
  • A national training number or to be eligible for one
English Language Requirements

Applicants for whom English is not a first language will also require a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 (with 6.0 in writing) or equivalent, unless their undergraduate degree was studied in, and awarded by, an English-speaking country. For more information on acceptable English language qualifications please visit the Queen Mary website.

Programme Structure

PhD - Full Time
3 years research + maximum 1 year for writing up

PhD - Part Time
6 years research + maximum 1 year for writing up

MD(Res) - Full Time
2 years research + maximum 1 year for writing up

MD(Res) - Part Time
4 years research + maximum 1 year for writing up

Enrolment and Induction

If your application is successful you will receive an official offer from the Admissions Team.

  • Enrolment takes place on the first working day of each month at the Mile End campus. You will receive an e-mail detailing what is required to complete this process
  • You will have a brief induction with the BCI Teaching Office, your supervisor and the Centre Administrator of the research lab you are joining.
  • The main induction takes place over 2 days at the beginning of the autumn and spring semester and counts towards your annual transferable skills.
  • For any questions contact the Teaching Office:
Student Life

At Barts Cancer Institute, you will find a rich social life, something which past and current students have noted as one of the highlights of the Institute. Within the laboratory, there is a strong sense of community, with the emphasis on group-driven research work creating a highly collaborative and sociable environment.

There is a dedicated social committee which helps to organise sporting events, pub quizzes and excursions throughout the year, helping you to make the most of this fascinating city in the company of fellow scientists from across the Institute.

It is difficult to imagine a more vibrant and exciting place to be a student than London. The Charterhouse Square campus is ideally placed for exploring the city, with underground and bus routes located nearby to roam further afield.

Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry

Barts Cancer Institute was formed in 2003 and is 1 of 7 Institutes within Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry. Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry is part of Queen Mary University of London.

Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry brings together two venerable teaching institutions: St Bartholomew's Hospital, which dates back to 1123, and The London Hospital Medical College, which was the first medical school in England and Wales, founded in 1785.

Today Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry is ranked 1st in London for Medicine (The Complete University Guide 2021 - subject rankings). 

Postgraduate Research Opportunities

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Lavanya, PhD Student

"I love living and working in London and this was a big part of my decision to pursue my postgraduate studies here. The collaborative atmosphere at BCI is great and it’s nice to know there will always be someone around to help with troubleshooting a problem in the lab or during data analysis. The range of different research projects undertaken here also promotes a great environment for collaborations between departments. This provides regular opportunities to attend talks and seminars on a diverse range of research topics. As a PhD student, it is refreshing to be able to hear about recent developments in areas of research that are outside of your specific project."

Read Lavanya's full Life as a Researcher profile

Sheila, PhD Student

"During my time at BCI, I have worked closely with varied supervisors across diverse departments and universities. This has given me a comprehensive understanding of the wider work being carried out in the cancer ecosystem and has enabled me to navigate my PhD project holistically. This has also been key in establishing a strong scientific network and forging new and potentially life-long friendships."

Read Sheila's full Life as a Researcher profile

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