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Department of Zoology


Cambridge ZooCasts: What's it like to be a Graduate student in the Department of Zoology in Cambridge?

All information for current Zoology postgraduates is now available on Moodle. 

There is a strong and lively graduate community in the Department, with support available from academic and administrative staff. About 100 graduate students study at any one time and regular programmes of graduate and staff seminars are held both within the Department and in related departments throughout the academic year.

The academic staff of the Department of Zoology are, both collectively and individually, world-class leaders in the field. Students are encouraged to work on projects and follow topics that are at the cutting edge of new research and policy initiatives.

We admit graduates for the following research degrees:

PhD (course code BLZO22)

The PhD degree is a minimum of three years of full-time research with an individual supervisor followed by examination of a research thesis in an oral examination. This is the principal research degree offered in the Department of Zoology and the great majority of our students are registered for it.

At the end of their first year of study students are required to complete a satisfactory First Year Report and viva. A brief report (without viva) is required at the end of the second year and third year.

MPhil in Biological Science (course code BLZOM1)

The MPhil is a one year course consisting of 11 months full-time research with an individual supervisor followed by examination of a research thesis in an oral examination.

The MPhil is most commonly taken as a stand-alone research degree by candidates with only one year of funding. If this course is taken as part of a route to the PhD a further three years of study and funding are required as well as satisfactory performance in the MPhil. The PhD project may draw on the topic of the MPhil, but the same work cannot be presented for both degrees.

Most candidates for both degrees start in October, in order to take advantage of Departmental and University funding competitions and induction programmes, but admission in January or April is also possible. All of our students are expected to take part in the Department’s Graduate Training Programme and the Graduate School of Life Science’s Researcher Development Programme

Please note that we do not currently offer:

  • Distance learning degrees/programmes/courses/training.
  • Exclusively taught postgraduate degrees.

Want to find out more? 

For central information on eligibility, funding, the application process, deadlines, course listings, and colleges, make sure you visit the Graduate Admissions website.

For further information on studying here in the Department of Zoology, please see below!

Finding a supervisor

If you are interested in applying for either the PhD or the MPhil course, the next step is to identify a potential supervisor and find out if they can accommodate you in their research group. Make contact with them to discuss ideas for research projects and, if at all possible, to arrange a visit.

If you are interested in more than one supervisor within the Zoology Department, you can name them as first and second choice in your application, but if you want to apply to supervisors in different departments, you will have to make separate applications (one to each department). Only one application is required if one project involves a co-supervisor from another department.

Research groups/themes

In order to help you identify a potential supervisor, we would advise you to browse our research pages to discover the fields of expertise in the Department and who best to make contact with, depending on your research interests. To be able to support your application, supervisors may arrange an interview with you, either in person or by telephone/Skype.

Projects on offer

A number of our academics are currently advertising projects for incoming graduate students - please refer to our PhD and MPhil Studentship page for more information. Please note that this page will be updated regularly over the next few weeks.

How to apply

Applications for admission to the University should be made via the University's online Applicant Portal.  There is a fee of £65 (this can cover up to three separate applications within the School, see here for further details), therefore we recommend that you do so only when you have found someone who wishes to supervise you.

Competition for admission to the University of Cambridge graduate programme is intense. Like all departments in the Graduate School, we require all our graduate entrants to have:

  1. at least a 2.1 in an Honours degree or equivalent (e.g., CGPA 3.5/4.0) in a relevant subject
  2. two excellent academic references
  3. fluency in the English language – recent IELTS test with an overall band score of at least 7.0 with not less than 7.0 in speaking, listening and writing, and 6.5 in reading.

For more details of the University’s entrance requirements and our entries in the Course Directory please visit the Graduate Admissions website.

Application deadlines

We advise all applicants to apply as early as possible. You should not wait until the day of the deadline to submit your application or supporting documents, as your application will be withdrawn if it is not complete by the deadline - this includes providing all supporting documents and references.

If you are applying for funding, there are two deadlines to consider:

Application for both is via the same online form but you must apply by whichever deadline comes first. 

For example:

  • If you are a USA citizen, resident in the USA, and wish to be considered for Gates US funding, you will need to apply by 12pm, 9 October 2019.

In order to be considered for the majority of funding competitions (e.g., non-US Gates, Cambridge Trust, Departmental funding), the submission deadline for applicants wishing to apply for either the MPhil or PhD in Zoology is 12pm, 7 January 2020. 

Please refer to the central Graduate Admissions application deadline webpage for more information. 


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.

Various sources of funding are available through the Department, Doctoral Training Programmes and the University for those wishing to study for a PhD or MPhil in Zoology.

Please visit our funding page for more information; this page will be updated regularly over the next few weeks.

Still have questions? Contact us at