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Students at a bench pipetting

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 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. 


Opening to applications in September

The Cancer Research UK Oxford Centre awards around 15 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: Immuno-Oncology; Cancer Big Data; Novel Therapeutics; Early Cancer Detection. 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.  There are four types of application welcomed as described below.

  • Application Track 1 – Clinical Trainees. Qualified doctors at all stages of training from the foundation training to higher specialist training.

  • Application Track 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. 

More information can be found on the University of Oxford’s programme page under the 'How to apply' section.

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 rate.
  • Track 2: 3 years of stipend at the rate of £21,000 per annum. 
  • Track 3: 4 years of stipend at the rate of £21,000 per annum.
  • Track 4: 4 years of stipend at the rate of £21,000 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. If you are a prospective applicant from the EU, please refer to the following pages on fees and funding.

Your Application

The full application guide and link to start your application can be found here under the 'How to apply' section.


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 pre-recorded videos for previous open days can be found below. 

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 DPhil in Cancer Science programme are now closed. 

    Project submissions now closed

    Project submissions from Oxford-based PIs are now closed for the 2025 admissions round.  

    Each year we advertise over 50 projects and appoint around 15 studentships encompassing clinicians, medical undergraduates and non-clinical/fundamental scientists. Examples of previous projects can be found in the Project Booklet tab on our website.

    If you would like to get in touch about the programme, please email us at




    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.