The funding process
Securing funding to support graduate study is a separate (though related) procedure to the academic application. There are a number of funding opportunities available, but all are very competitive. It is not unusual for applicants who are made a conditional offer of a place to find themselves without the necessary funds to actually commence their study.
Below are just some of the possible funding routes to join the Department for graduate study, but it is not a complete list - often students come here on scholarships from their home country, or funded by charities or other sponsors.
- (Gates, Cambridge Trust, CHSS) of Cambridge
- Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) DTP
- Natural Environment Research Council Earth System Science (NERC ESS) DTP
- Cambridge MRC DTP Programme
- Wellcome Trust 4-Year PhD Programme in Developmental Mechanisms
- Departmental PhD Studentships for entry in 2017-18
- and Bursaries
Funding offered by the University of Cambridge
All eligible applicants will be automatically considered for funding from the Gates Cambridge Trust, the Cambridge Commonwealth, European and International Trust, and the Cambridge Home and European Scholarship Scheme (CHESS) provided they:
- apply for admission to the Department by the appropriate
- tick the box on the Applicant Portal application relating to the funding for which you would like to be considered.
For more information about these funding schemes, please consult the funding pages of the Graduate Admissions website.
The University of Cambridge and Partner Institutes have a Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) Grant from BBSRC, providing 4-year fully funded studentships under the four broad themes of Basic Bioscience Underpinning Health; Bioenergy and Industrial Biotechnology; Food Security; and World Class Underpinning Bioscience.
UK and EEA students who meet the UK residency requirements will be eligible for a full BBSRC studentship. Students from EEA countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award. EEA students eligible for a fees only award can apply for University wide funding schemes. Further information about eligibility and how to apply can be found here.
NB If you wish to be considered for a BBSRC-funded studentship you will need to apply to the BBSRC DTP course code. If you apply for the BBSRC-DTP and would also like to be considered by the Department for either a NERC DTP or Departmental Studentship, you must inform the Graduate Administration team, by the relevant deadline, who will obtain a copy of your application documents from the BBSRC DTP administrator. You will also need to send a 1-2 page research proposal.
Overseas students are not eligible to receive studentships from Research Councils, but can apply for University-wide funding schemes such as the Gates Cambridge Trust and the Cambridge Commonwealth, European and International Trust. Overseas students can also apply for funding to support their studies from their home countries or international schemes.
The University of Cambridge is offering more than fifteen 3.5-year NERC funded studentships starting in October 2017. The application deadline is 4th January 2017. Several people in the Department of Zoology are members of the Biology Theme, and can therefore supervise a student funded via this programme. Specific projects are listed below, but you may also propose your own project. Full information on how to apply, and the projects available, can be found on the Cambridge Earth System Science DTP website.
Those who have applied to the BBSRC DTP and/or the Wellcome Trust 4-Year Programme can also be considered for the NERC DTP (without the need for a separate application to Zoology) provided that your potential supervisor is based in the Department of Zoology. You will need to inform the Graduate Administration team by 4th January 2017 that this is the case, and that you wish to be considered for one of our NERC projects.
2017-18 projects with supervisors in Zoology listed below:
B301: Dissecting the evolution of bright wing patterns in tropical butterflies (Lead Supervisor: Chris Jiggins, Zoology)
B302: Co-evolution of colour vision and coloration in colourful songbirds (Lead Supervisor: Nick Mundy, Zoology)
B312: Maximising Return on Investment for elephant and ape conservation in Africa (Lead Supervisor: Andrew Balmford, Zoology and *CASE* Partner Wildlife Conservation Society)
B324: Determining the biases and consistency in the evidence for conservation biology (Lead Supervisor: William Sutherland, Zoology)
B329: Palaeontological and developmental approaches for resolving vertebrate phylogenetics and character evolution (Lead Supervisor: Robert Asher, Zoology)
B331: How mothers and early-life factors shape later development: investigating a pervasive phenomenon in an unusual model system (Lead Supervisor: Sinead English, Zoology)
B332: Mother knows best: maternal effects on climate change adaptation in a disease vector (Lead Supervisor: Sinead English, Zoology)
B333: You are what your mother ate: how maternal nutrition impacts offspring health (Lead Supervisor: Sinead English, Zoology)
B334: Slippery surfaces and sticky fluids of carnivorous pitcher plants: biomechanics and ecology (Lead Supervisor: Walter Federle, Zoology)
B335: Host specificity and the role of “wax barriers” in Macaranga-ant mutualisms (Lead Supervisor: Walter Federle, Zoology)
The Cambridge MRC DTP are offering at least ten fully funded PhD studentships for projects commencing in October 2017. The studentships provide an annual stipend of £17k for 3.5 years, full fees and research costs. The duration of the studentship allows for a funded period of write-up prior to thesis submission.
In addition to excellent research facilities, students will have access to a wide variety of training and researcher development activities, many of which are offered through the Graduate School of Life Sciences and the wider University.
The closing date for applications is 1st December 2016. Interviews will be held late January 2017.
2017-18 projects with supervisors in Zoology:
MC44: Elucidating The Role of The Nuclear Envelope In Centriole Duplication (Lead supervisor: Dr Paul Conduit)
NMH27: Insect Neurons and Networks as models for Speech Processing (Lead supervisor: Dr Berthold Hedwig)
NMH30: Regulation of structural synaptic plasticity by metabolic reactive oxygen species (Lead supervisor: Dr Matthias Landgraf)
For eligibility criteria and application instructions, please visit the Cambridge MRC DTP website.
Many of the Zoology research groups working in the areas of evolutionary and developmental biology participate in this interdisciplinary programme (see list here). This Wellcome Trust funded programme recruits annually from students worldwide, offering five fully funded studentships, including one to overseas candidates. Full information about the programme structure, eligibility and how to apply can be found on the programme website.
NB If you would also like to be considered by the Department for a Departmental Studentship, you must inform the Graduate Administration team, by the relevant deadline, who will obtain a copy of your application documents from the Programme administrator. You will also need to send a 1-2 page research proposal.
Departmental Studentships open to Home/EU applicants:
Further information, including eligibility, can be found on the Trust Funds page.
Departmental Studentships open to Home/EU and Overseas applicants:
The Claire Barnes 150th Anniversary Studentships in Zoology
Two Claire Barnes PhD studentships, covering College Fee and University Composition Fee at the Home/EU rate, a stipend at the RCUK rate for 4 years, and £5k pa towards research costs for 3 years, are offered at the Department to start in October 2017.
Candidates of any nationality/residency may apply, but a successful Overseas applicant would need to secure additional funds from other sources to cover the higher fee level. The most current estimates of costs can be found on the Graduate Admissions fees page.
The two studentships will be available to PhD students working on projects in the following research areas:
1) Biology and Ecology of Asia
2) Marine Biology
Claire Barnes (Clare College, 1976) writes:
“I have been fortunate to spend my working life in Asia during an era of rapid economic growth. As a traveller and keen diver, I have visited some of the world's most magical places, and have also witnessed unprecedented ecological change and destruction. Losses of habitat, biodiversity, and traditional local knowledge are all of concern; and regional education systems often equip their graduates with little understanding of the natural world. Meanwhile, the amateur naturalist marvels at the number of species yet to be documented and of topics yet to be studied. I would like to encourage zoological studies in Asia, and to strengthen scholarly and personal ties between the UK and Asia.”
Please see the below list of available projects. Applicants are also invited to suggest their own projects.
Biology and Ecology of Asia projects:
- The scale and reasons for the emerging, potentially very large yield gap in oil palm plantations, the barriers to it being narrowed, and the potential impacts for both within-plantation biodiversity and for forest conversion if yields do rise dramatically. (Supervisors: Prof Andrew Balmford FRS, Dr Edgar Turner)
- The evolutionary ecology of adaptive radiations in Asian butterflies - The spectacular radiations of Mycalesine butterflies in Asia: Comparative studies of seasonal polyphenism, host plant evolution, and male secondary sexual traits with parallel radiations in Madagascar and Africa. (Supervisor: Prof Paul Brakefield FRS)
- Host specificity and the role of “wax barriers” in Macaranga-ant mutualisms. (Supervisor: Dr Walter Federle)
- Biomechanics and ecology of Nepenthes pitcher plants. (Supervisor: Dr Walter Federle)
Marine Biology projects:
- Some like it hot? How do Antarctic species and ecosystems respond to global warming?
Supervisors: Prof Bill Amos (Department of Zoology) and Prof Lloyd Peck (British Antarctic Survey: BAS). Full description of project here.
- Love in a cold climate: Understanding the dispersal and genetic structure of an abundant Antarctic topshell Margarella antarctica
Supervisors: Prof Bill Amos (Department of Zoology) and Prof Lloyd Peck (BAS). Full description of project here.
- What controls animal size in the sea?
Supervisors: Dr David Aldridge (Department of Zoology) and Prof Lloyd Peck (BAS). Full description of project here.
- Deciphering the patterns and process of marine bioinvasions.
Supervisor: Dr David Aldridge
- There, and back again: range contractions and recolonization of the Red Sea by coral reef fishes during the last glacial.
Supervisors: Dr Andrea Manica (Department of Zoology) and Dr Moshe Kiflawi, The Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences, Israel
- The limit is the sea, not the sky; the importance of habitat accessibility and preference for understanding seabird distributions and abundance.
Supervisors: Dr Andrea Manica (Department of Zoology) and Richard Phillips (BAS)
- Understanding the extinction crisis in the plateau lakes of Yunnan Province, China, a global biodiversity hotspot.
Supervisor: Dr David Aldridge
- The systematics, ecology and conservation of Cremnoconchus, freshwater representatives of the marine winkle family (Littorinidae) confined to India.
Supervisor: Dr Richard Preece
Application procedure for the Departmental PhD Studentships:
To be considered for the Departmental PhD Studentships, candidates must have applied to the University of Cambridge (following the normal application process) by 4th January 2017. Please note that to be considered, you must also have uploaded your CV and research proposal by this date.
Interviews are likely to be held in February-March 2017.
Those who have applied to the BBSRC DTP and/or the Wellcome Trust 4-Year Programme can also be considered (without the need for a separate application to Zoology) provided that your potential supervisor is based in the Department of Zoology. You will need to inform the Graduate Administration team by 4th January that this is the case, and that you wish to be considered for a Departmental Studentship. You will also need to send a 1-2 page research proposal.
A number of Colleges offer part or full scholarships for graduate students, but they are very competitive. They often have specific eligibility criteria (for example nationality or subject) - the Cambridge Funding Search is a good place to start, but is not an exhaustive list, therefore you would also need to check individual College websites if you wish to make a College choice on this basis (you usually need to list the College as first choice in your application for them to consider you for a scholarship).