PhD: How to Apply

Before applying please read our Research and About the PhD Programme pages.  Please submit your application using the online application portal.  You will receive an automated email response confirming safe receipt.  Please do not apply directly to the University of Manchester; applications will only be accepted using the CRUK Manchester Institute online application portal.  CVs are not an acceptable form of application and will not be considered.

Eligibility Criteria

We invite talented and motivated students or graduates to apply for our PhD programme.  Applications are invited from recent graduates or final year undergraduates who have, or expect to obtain, a first or upper second class honours degree or equivalent from any recognised University worldwide.

Previous laboratory research experience is not a requirement for acceptance to the PhD programme, however, such experience will give a realistic insight into academic research. 

If English is not your first language, you must be able to satisfy the minimum English language requirements for graduate study at the University of Manchester. Minimum entry level is IELTS (or equivalent) 6.5 overall but no less than 5.5 in each component and 6.0 in written component.  An English language qualification is not a pre-requisite for making an initial application, but if you are successful in gaining a studentship, you will be required to sit an English language examination before an unconditional offer can be made. For further information on your country's specific English language requirements, please click here.


Shortlisting will be carried out following application closure.  Due to the volume of applications we receive, it is not possible to answer individual emails regarding shortlisting outcomes.  Applicants invited for face to face interview will be expected to attend in person unless there are extenuating circumstances e.g. location or visa implications.  Under these circumstance it may be possible to undergo a further Skype interview during which you must give the paper critique presentation.

To aid the shortlisting process, it is possible you will be selected to undergo a short 10 minute pre-Skype selection interview with one or more PIs.  You will be contacted in advance to arrange a convenient date and time, therefore please ensure you have given your email and skype addresses on the online application portal. This pre-selection Skype contact does not pre-empt the requirement for a face to face interview and is not a guarantee that you will be selected to attend in person for interview .  If you are not successfully invited for face to face interview following pre- Skype contact, you may request written feedback by emailing  Successful candidates will be contacted and invited to attend the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute for face to face interview on the specified date.  You will be expected to prepare a 10 minute critique followed by five minutes of questions on one pre-selected publication - a choice of papers will be emailed to you in advance of the interview. During the day you will get the chance to tour the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, Manchester Cancer Research Centre and our facilities, and spend time with some of our current established students.  

Travel expenses, including low cost air fare or second-class rail, will be reimbursed upon production of original receipts.  Accommodation, where required, will be booked and paid for by the CRUK MI for interviewees only.  Any additional travelling persons will be expected to fund their own travel, accommodation, and incidental expenses.

Completing the Online Application Portal

Please complete the online application portal and submit online. Applications in other formats will not be accepted.

The information you provide on your education, results, skills and experience are essential deciding factors on whether you are shortlisted for interview.  Please be concise but include sufficient information about yourself to allow us to build up a picture of who you are, and what inspires you to want to do a research degree. We want to know what your main subjects currently are or were, and how well you did in them. We are particularly interested in your overall end of year marks, your research experience, and how this has affected your thinking.  If a section on the form is not relevant please indicate this on the form.  

  • Personal details - please give all current and permanent address contact details
  • Current qualifications - please complete this section with your current highest degree gained or the degree you are currently studying for
  • Project selection - if we have more than one project advertised on our website, please list your top three projects of interest in preferencial order from first to last
  • Nationality and residence details - please complete this section if you are a UK/EU or international applicant
  • English language qualification - all applicants to complete regardless of citizenship
  • Academic qualifications - please complete sections with details of your schooling, A level results, undergraduate/postgraduate studies providing information on Colleges and Universities attended.  In the UK GCSEs are taken at 16 years old and A/AS levels at 17-18 years old.  Non-UK applicants should give subjects and grades for the closest academic equivalencies in their country's education system - please provide information on school examinations and qualifications/marks you achieved with as much detail as possible stating the name of these examinations.   If you have not yet completed your undergraduate degree, please give grades to date and indicate your end of course date on the form.  Postgraduate qualification only needs to be completed by those having completed or are currently studying for a postgraduate degree eg. Masters.   
  • Work experience - this is only relevant if you have held any positions outside of your academic studies.  This could be full or part time work, or any voluntary/charity work.  
  • Your interests - please list any non-academic hobbies or interests and details of any activity memberships
  • Personal statement - we are looking for a concise summary (no more than 500 words) on your academic interests and career aspirations.  You may want include a short constructed description of a completed or ongoing current undergraduate or postgraduate project/or any industrial placement information taken as part of your course.  Please pay particularly attention to this section and tell us why you want to do a PhD, and why in particular you are applying to the CRUK Manchester Institute to support your application.
  • References - automated emails will be sent to your referees at the point of your application submission.  Therefore, please ensure you have listed and transcribed email addresses correctly.  Your first referee should have directly supervised your academic work and be able to comment on your University academic record.  Another of your referees should be your current or most recent employer/supervisor.   We require details for a minimum of two referees.  References will aid the shortlisting process,  and referees will continue to have access to upload references up until the interview date.
  • Checking your application is complete - please check you have provided all necessary information before submitting your application.  You will be unable to recall or edit submitted applications.
  • How did you find out about our PhD Studentships - this is important information - please complete this section on how you heard about our studentships, selecting all that apply.  This is not a trivial question and plays an important indicator for our future advertising therefore your co-operation in completing this section is appreciated.