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PhD in Cancer Studies (PhD Studentship)

Reference Number: R2639
Closing Date: Closed for applications
Duration: 4 years
Funding Amount: UK/EU tuition fees plus stipend
Level of Study: Postgraduate Research
Regions: EU (Non UK), International (Non EU), UK
This funding opportunity is now closed for application


Project title: PhD in Cancer Studies

Applications are now being invited for 4-year PhD studentships within cancer studies starting in October 2016.

We are seeking talented and driven individuals with backgrounds in biological sciences, molecular biology, chemistry, and biophysics interested in undertaking a research project in Cancer Studies. The establishment in 2009 of the Cardiff Cancer Research UK Centre reflects the high standard of basic and clinical science within Cardiff University and aims to deliver the knowledge that has been gained to patient benefit. Cardiff University has a prodigious track record in training graduate students who establish research careers in academia and industry throughout the world.

Cardiff University is pioneering an integrated approach to cancer research with the cancer charity Cancer Research UK by establishing a cross-disciplinary Cancer Research Centre. This PhD training programme aims to produce the future leaders of cancer research. Our 4-year Programme provides a broader and more in-depth practical and theoretical grounding in Cancer Biology than conventional 3-year programmes.

During the first semester of Year 1, you will receive formal lectures in current research techniques and skills, including molecular/biochemical techniques, informatics, pharmaceutics, evidence analysis, and clinical aspects of cancer. This will be accompanied by tutorials that will address specific areas of cancer and focus on new conceptual questions, recent progress, or technical/clinical challenges. The objective is to make each postgraduate researcher aware of the current state of knowledge, technical limitations, and clinical issues where future progress may be made.

In the second part of Year 1, you will take two three-month rotation projects in internationally renowned labs of your choice. During the lab rotations, you will carry out research, gain knowledge of the questions addressed by the lab, and acquire direct experience of the relevant techniques. Lab rotations will help you to reach an informed choice of the cancer biology area and supervisor you will choose for your full PhD project during Years 2 to 4. Throughout all the years, you and your colleagues will participate in weekly seminars and presentations at journal clubs. The programme is designed to ensure an excellent PhD experience and to prepare you for an outstanding future.

Potential Supervisors:

The CRUK Cardiff Centre sits within the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences, and supervisors are usually based within the following schools:

School of Medicine
School of Biosciences
School of Pharmacy
School of Chemistry

Start date: 1 October 2016

Number of Studentships: 1


This studentship is subject to funding from Cancer Research UK, for which we expect to have confirmation by December 2016 for October 2017 entry.


Academic criteria: Applicants for a studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a 2:1 degree or higher in a relevant subject, such as Biochemistry, Anatomy, Genetics, Physiology, or Natural Sciences. Applications are particularly welcome from applicants with a good first degree or Master's qualification.

Residency: This studentship is open to students of any nationality. Students classified as international for fee purposes have to self-fund the difference between home and international fees.

How to Apply

Consideration is automatic on applying for the PhD in Medicine, with a start date of 1 October 2016 via Cardiff University's Online Application Service.

Applicants must provide a CV, the contact details of two referees and a one page summary of your research interests and academic background, and how you believe they fit into a PhD in Cancer Studies.

In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided.

The deadline for applications is 1 March 2016

Further Information

For further information, please contact Jo Hall at or on +44 (0)29 2184 7968.

Relevant Links
CRUK Cardiff Centre
Wales Cancer Research Centre

Typical news stories
Treating advanced prostate Cancer
Cardiff University scientists in cancer breakthrough

Course Structure

Year 1: Modules

The lecture modules in the first 16 weeks (up to the first laboratory rotation) will cover the areas of Molecular Genetics of Cancer, Signal Transduction in Cancer, Cell Biology, Bioinformatics, Epidemiology, Clinical Trials, and the drug discovery process. Skills-based training in Statistics and Research Techniques will complement the issue-focussed modules. Once laboratory rotations start in the spring term, the lecture component will be scaled down and will primarily involve the attendance of focused tutorials in current cancer research topics and the attendance of research seminars by visiting international speakers.

Module Assessment
Lectures will be assessed in the form of compulsory essays. The research techniques in Biosciences lectures given on a Monday morning will require preparation for the Friday morning tutorials.

Additional Courses
In addition to these time-tabled lectures, students will receive formal training on a number of essential topics (e.g., health and safety procedures in the various suites of laboratories, COSHH). If required for subsequent projects, students will also complete an accredited Home Office training course (which is put on several times a year by Cardiff University). This two-day course is followed by a formal examination, and is an essential pre-requisite for a Personal License. 

Year 1: Laboratory Rotations

Laboratory Rotations
Each postgraduate researcher will undertake two three-month “rotation” projects starting in the Spring Term that will be selected from a Project List. Each three-month project will entail preliminary research work to confirm the feasibility of the project.  At the end of each rotation project, the postgraduate researcher will prepare a short report, along the lines of a Project Grant proposal that will include continued project feasibility, description of preliminary work, and explanation of a potential work plan for continuation of the project for a further three years together with timelines, contingency plans, and costings. Each project report will be assessed by the Training Committee and used to monitor student progress. At the end of Year 1, the student will select one project for their PhD research (or MPhil/MD) to be continued in Years 2-4 (or year 2 for MPhil/MD), assuming that its plan, feasibility, and budget is agreed by the student, supervisor, co-supervisor, and Training Committee. In addition, the student will give a brief, PowerPoint presentation of the selected project (10 mins, followed by a discussion). The session of presentations will be attended by the Directors of Postgraduate research, the other PhD students, and the rotation supervisors. The student will then receive formal feedback on the report and the presentation by the CRUK Training Committee. Presentations will be graded as either ‘Accept', 'Minor Revision', 'Major Revision' or 'Reject', and feedback provided on each aspect of the presentation. The two rotation projects will provide invaluable first-hand experience of research techniques, a taster for specific research issues, and provide a method of assessment of progress. The completion of the rotations and their associated reports and presentations take the student to a crucial decision point at the end of year 1 when the student and potential supervisor(s) will decide, by mutual agreement, on a suitable research project for a PhD.  Following the agreement of the Teaching Committee, the student will undertake work leading to a conventional PhD during years 2-4. Note, the supervisors for Year 2-4 need not come from the mini-projects (laboratory rotation), although this would normally be expected.

Years 2-4:
During the first week of Year 2, the student, the Programme Director and Deputy, and the prospective supervisors will agree on a research plan. The principal supervisor will determine the ‘Home School’ of the student for Years 2-4. Prior to that, the Home School for all students will be the School of Medicine to foster a sense of identity and to provide a strong, peer-support network. Non-clinical postgraduate researchers will pursue a conventional PhD, submitting within 3 years (or possibly MPhil at end of year 2). Clinical students will complete a 1-year or 3-year project leading to a MPhil/MD or a PhD, respectively. One primary project proposer will act as the principal supervisor and students will be subject to the local processes of student monitoring of that supervisor’s ‘home’ School.  Each student will give an oral presentation of their progress annually, most likely at a symposium organised by the CRUK Centre Training Committee. Progress will also be monitored throughout Years 2-4, via an annual written report and interview.  It is envisaged that postgraduate researchers will progress from MPhil to PhD study status at the end of Year 2.

Student Welfare and Progress
On enrolment you will be assigned a Personal Tutor who will follow you throughout the four years of the course providing both academic advice and overseeing your general welfare. You will initially be assigned the School of Medicine as your ‘Home Department’. In Years 2-4 the student ‘Home Department’ will be that of your project supervisor. Your progress will be monitored by a dedicated committee that will include the Programme Director, the Programme Deputy Director, and the Director of Postgraduate Studies of the chosen School. You will be part of the larger cancer research community of academic researchers, postdocs, and other neuroscience PhD students in the Cancer Research UK Centre. Career advice will be provided at the start of Year 4 to ensure proper progress to a suitable employment.


Name: Jo Hall  

Telephone: +44 (0)29 2184 7968