Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.
Students at a lab bench using a pipette

With its first intake confirmed for 2020, the DPhil in Cancer Science Programme at the University of Oxford provides research-based doctoral training for cancer researchers from clinical, biological, engineering, mathematics and statistics backgrounds. 

Successful applicants will receive a world-leading research training experience that integrates an education initiative spanning cancer patient care, tumour biology and research impact; on- course and post-programme mentorship; and a specialised, fundamental, subject-specific training programme that is tailored to individual research needs. 

Find out more about the course below, read about what our current students are up to, or find out what our alumni have gone on to achieve in their career as a cancer researcher. 


Applications Closed

Applications are now closed to the next DPhil in Cancer Science programme. Applications for our next cohort will open in 2022.

The Cancer Research UK Oxford Centre awards around 12 full-time positions on the DPhil in Cancer Science Programme each year for researchers looking to start their academic career at one of the world’s leading research organisations.

The programme is unique and distinctive in offering integrated training across the following themes: Immunity, Infection & Inflammation; DNA Damage Response & Radiation Biology; Cancer Genetics & Epigenetics; and Cancer Big Data. It builds on Oxford’s outstanding research record in these areas, spanning both the University and Hospital Trust.

Students participating in the scheme will be offered:

  • a choice of interdisciplinary cutting-edge cancer research projects (see the Project Book tab for examples of the type of projects offered).
  • the ability to gain a working in-depth knowledge of the fundamentals of cancer biology and cancer patient care through advanced level seminars.
  • a world-renowned research environment that encourages the student’s originality and creativity in their research.
  • opportunities to develop skills in making and testing hypotheses, in developing new theories, and in planning and conducting experiments.
  • an environment in which to develop skills in written work, oral presentation and publishing the results of their research in high-profile scientific journals, through constructive feedback of written work and oral presentations.

At the end of the course, programme students will:

  • have gained a thorough knowledge of the basic principles of cancer research including the relevant literature and a comprehensive understanding of scientific methods and techniques applicable to their own research.
  • be able to demonstrate originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in their field.
  • have the ability to critically evaluate current research and research techniques and methodologies.
  • be able to act autonomously in the planning and implementation of research.
  • be prepared for a career in cancer research.

The scheme caters to researchers from a wide range of backgrounds and there are four types of application welcomed as described below.

  • Application Type 1 – Clinical Trainees. Qualified doctors at all stages of training (from foundation to higher specialist training).
  • Application Type 2 – Medical Undergraduates. Medical students who are currently undertaking a primary medical qualification (MBBS, MBChB or equivalent). At entry, we will be looking for evidence of completion of at least the first two years of a primary medical qualification and achievement at the level of an upper-second or first-class honours degrees (or iBSc).
  • Application Type 3 – Non-Clinical/Fundamental Scientist. Science graduates that hold (or be predicted to achieve) the equivalent of a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in biological, medical, or chemical science, as appropriate for the projects offered.
  • Application Type 4 – Non-Clinical/Fundamental Scientist.  Science graduates that hold (or be predicted to achieve) the equivalent of a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in engineering, mathematical/data, or physical science, as appropriate for the projects offered. 

All offered places are fully funded at the home rate. This includes salary/stipend, University and College fees, and a research consumables budget of £13k p.a.. Salary and stipend provisions are summarised below:

  • Track 1 – 3 years of salary at Grade E63 or E64 Clinical Researcher
  • Track 2 – 3 years of stipend at the rate of £19,000 per annum.
  • Track 3 – 4 years of stipend at the rate of £19,000 per annum.
  • Track 4 – 4 years of stipend at the rate of £19,000 per annum.

Applications from international candidates will be accepted, however funding at the home level is only available for this programme and therefore international applicants would need to either source further funding or support themselves financially for the remaining fees. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

The process for allocating studentships and fellowships for the 2022 intake is now closed. The application timeline for applicants can be found below.

  • 21 September 2021 – Project Booklet released and opening of scheme to applicants
  • 3rd December 2021 – Deadline for applying to the 2022 intake (with up to 3 ranked projects from the 2022 project list).
  • January/February 2022 – Interviews
  • March/April 2022 – Award announcements



Interviews are offered to the top-ranked applications, with the results being announced shortly afterwards. All applicants will be judged on the following;

  • Evidence of a prior interest in the area of research proposed is likely to advantage your application.
  • Prior publications are not required, but research experience and a track record demonstrating an interest in research may be an advantage.
  • It would be expected that graduate applicants would be familiar with the recent published work of their proposed supervisor.
  • Commitment to and passion for a career in cancer research.
  • Reasoning ability and academic curiosity.

If you are thinking of applying to the scheme, useful advice can be found here. If you have any further questions about the programme or the application, please email

The open day for the 2022 intake of students was held on Tuesday 21 September 2021. The next open day for the 2023 intake will be held later in 2022.

If you have any questions about the DPhil in Cancer Science or applications, you can contact us on and we will direct your question to the most appropriate person.

Prof Mark Middleton - Introduction to the DPhil in Cancer Science & the CRUK Oxford Centre

Prof Rob Gilbert - Cancer Research Training in Oxford

Dr Catherine Swales - Incorporating a DPhil into your undergraduate medical studies

Prof Chris Pugh - Incorporating a DPhil into your postgraduate clinical training

Applications to the 2022 round of the DPhil in Cancer Science programme are now closed.

If you have a CRUK pre-DPhil Bursary, please get in touch with us at

Project Books from all previous admission rounds are available below

For the DPhil in Cancer Science, we look for project submissions from PIs from across medical, physical, engineering and mathematical sciences. We typically advertise 35-45 projects to prospective students, who can apply for their preferred projects (examples of previous projects can be found in the Project Booklet tab).

Cancer researchers from across the Oxford University and Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust who are interested in supervising a student/fellow are eligible to submit their project ideas.

The deadline for 2021-2022 project submissions by Oxford supervisors has now passed. If you are interested in hosting a DPhil in Cancer Science student please contact us for more information, the next round of project applications will be opening around May 2022.

Funded by

CRUK Oxford Centre Logo

DPhil students in the Cancer Science Programme at the University of Oxford are supported by a grant from Cancer Research UK, managed through the CRUK Oxford Centre.