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MRC Biostatistics Unit


We hope the following Questions and Answers will help with any general questions you may have when applying for a PhD position at the MRC Biostatistics Unit. For questions and answers relating to applying to the University of Cambridge, please see the University of Cambridge Postgraduate Admissions webpage

If you have any further questions, please email:

Q. How do I apply for a PhD position at the MRC Biostatistics Unit?

Please visit the Application Procedure section on our webpage and follow the instructions for applicants. Please note, to be formally considered for a PhD place at BSU applications must be submitted via the University of Cambridge application system. We will not consider informal applications made directly to the Unit or any of its members.  We will subsequently sort out applicant eligibility for funding schemes.

Q. Do I need to approach a supervisor in advance of my application?

All candidates are advised to make contact with a prospective supervisor in advance of submitting an application.

Q. What is the closing date for applications?

The closing date for applications for starting in October 2025 will be announced in Autumn 2024.

Q. When and where will the interviews take place?

Interviews for our funded places usually take place in late January. Interviews outside of this recruitment round will be arranged as and when required.

Q. If called for interview, will the MRC Biostatistics Unit pay my travel expenses?

Yes. If you are asked to attend the MRC Biostatistics Unit for interview in-person, we will pay reasonable UK travel expenses. All claims require original receipts.

Q. Which faculty will I be in at the University of Cambridge?

The Unit is part of the University of Cambridge Faculty of Clinical Medicine and Veterinary Medicine. Strong links exist between the Unit and the University of Cambridge Statistical Laboratory and all students are encouraged to make use of facilities there.

Q. If I can fund my own studies, can I come and do my PhD at MRC Biostatistics Unit?

Yes, we welcome self-funded PhD students. Please note, however, that all applications are subject to the same selection procedure to ensure that the high standard of our PhD programme is maintained. Funding your own studies will not automatically guarantee you a place at the MRC Biostatistics Unit.

Q. Do I need to provide my own research proposal?

Some potential projects are listed and students are welcome to use these in their application. However, candidates are also encouraged to get in contact with potential supervisors in advance of putting in an application to discuss ideas of mutual interest.

Q. I’m interested in working with more than one of the listed supervisors – how do I let you know?

If you are shortlisted for interview, we will get in touch and request you select up to 4 supervisors/ projects that you are interested in. In the meantime please select your favourite.

Q. The University application system tells me I need to meet the English language requirements, but I don’t have time to book a test – can I still apply?

Yes, applicants are given a generous amount of time to meet entrance criteria by the University.

Q. What are the University of Cambridge entrance requirements?

Visit the University of Cambridge website for full details.

Q. Does the MRC Biostatistics Unit have its own entry requirements?

Yes, please see our Application Procedure page for details.

Q. I’m currently still completing a course and can not yet provide a transcript – should I still apply?

Yes, applicants are given a generous amount of time to meet entrance criteria by the University.

Q. How do I find out what my fee status is?

Please see the University of Cambridge fee status webpage

Q. How much does a PhD at BSU cost?

This depends on many factors. In order to obtain an accurate figure for your own individual circumstances please see the University of Cambridge financial commitment calculator.

Q. How will the UK exit from the EU (Brexit) affect my application?

The University of Cambridge can confirm that EU students who wish to study in Cambridge from October 2021 will now be eligible for fees at the overseas fee rate. For details of how much this will be see

Q. What sources of funding are available?

In addition to the BSU department funding available each year, applicants are advised to apply for all funding schemes within the University of Cambridge that they are eligible for. Please see the University of Cambridge funding search for details of what the University has to offer, and ensure that applications are made by the dates for each relevant competition. No extensions to these deadlines can be given.

Q. Can I apply for funding from other non-University of Cambridge schemes?

Yes of course! Please do apply for all funding available, but let us know that you are applying for other schemes at the time of application.

Q. BSU Department Funding

Most of our PhD funding comes from UKRI, though we occasionally have funding from other sources. A separate application is not necessary for Department funding. All applications should be submitted via the University of Cambridge application system which are then forwarded on to us.  We will subsequently sort out which funding applicants are eligible for.

Q. What does BSU funding provide?

BSU department funding covers all fees at the University of Cambridge home rate, a tax-free stipend or living allowance, and a generous travel and training budget.

Q. How much is the BSU stipend?

Where Department funding is successfully obtained the MRC Biostatistics Unit is currently paying an annual tax-free stipend of £20,000.

Q. The University of Cambridge classes me as an overseas student, am I eligible for full BSU funding?

Most of our funding comes from UKRI and their eligibility rules require that we prioritise UK applicants for funding. However, for a maximum of one exceptional candidate each year, we can offer Departmental funding to a non-UK candidate at the University of Cambridge Home fee rate only (see above for details of what a full funding entails). Please note that any non-UK candidates are expected to procure funds to meet the additional costs of overseas fees. Competition for this studentship is usually exceptionally high and candidates are advised to apply for other scholarships in addition to this.

Q. If I am an overseas student will you support my application for extra funding from the University of Cambridge?

All PhD applications are ranked together in early January and at this time we decide who we would like to offer places to. Where a candidate has also entered the central University funding competition these rankings are used to form the basis of our supporting documentation. Candidates who are not offered a place will not have any ranking submitted.