Main Menu

Contact us and FAQs


Full-time science PhD studentships - Frequently Asked Questions

What are the minimum qualifications I need to apply?

The Institute of Cancer Research is one of the world’s most influential cancer research institutions. As such, we receive applications from hundreds of candidates each year. At a minimum, candidates for full-time science PhD study must have an upper second-class honours degree in a relevant subject (either expected or obtained), or an overseas qualification to the equivalent level, or a Master’s degree in a relevant subject. 

I am not from the United Kingdom/European Union. Can I apply?

All ICR-funded studentships are open to candidates irrespective of nationality, subject to meeting the minimum entrance criteria. Occasionally there are nationality restrictions placed by the Research Councils, but this will be clearly stated on the advert and ICR website. If there are no comments about candidate nationality, please assume the project accepts international applications.

Do I need to be a fluent English speaker?

All applicants who do not have English as a first language must have a formal English qualification to the equivalent of an IELTS score of 7.0, with a minimum of 6 in any one component.

Applicants without an IETLS score should have either completed education in English (for a minimum of one year) or have worked in an English-speaking environment (for a minimum of 18 months).

Students without a valid IETLS score should have either education experience in English (minimum 1 year) or work experience (minimum 18 months), in a majority English speaking country within the last two years.

Please note, the ICR offers training to students for whom English is not a first language. It may be possible to make a conditional offer to candidates whose IELTS score is less than the minimum, subject to further study and re-examination and to UK visa requirements.

I am worried that I don’t have enough experience or the right employment history. What should I do?

Providing you meet the eligibility criteria, your application will be assessed to determine whether you will be invited for interview. PhD students can be recruited straight from university so don’t let this put you off applying.

Should I submit supporting evidence such as a CV or a degree certificate with my application?

The advert webpage will set out what material you need to provide.    

I am an overseas applicant. Will a studentship at the ICR cover the university tuition fees for the full four years?

If you are offered and accept a fully funded four-year PhD Studentship at the ICR, annual university tuition fees will be covered for the duration of your studies.

How will I know if my application has been received?

Your application will be acknowledged. 

When will I know if my application has been successful?

We will contact shortlisted candidates for interview as soon as possible after the deadline date. 

Will my suggested referees be contacted straight away for a reference?

Yes. References are sought for those applying during the main recruitment round prior to the sift process.  

Can I alter the interview date if I am unable to attend?

Interviews are complex to organise and dates are set well in advance to accommodate this. In the majority of circumstances we are unable to alter interview dates. If you are offered an interview and you are unable to attend on the given date, please contact the ICR’s Registry ([email protected]) as soon as possible.

Will I be contacted if my application has been unsuccessful?

No. Our studentships are highly competitive and we receive large volumes of applications. It is not feasible to contact unsuccessful applicants, unless you have attended for interview. 

If my application has been unsuccessful, can I ask for feedback as to why?

Unfortunately, because we receive so many applications, it will not be possible to provide feedback as to why you have not been successful, unless you have attended for interview.

For more information, please view the ICR Admissions Policy (PDF).

How will Brexit impact recruitment of PhD students?

The Institute of Cancer Research currently pays tuition fees for all students that have been competitively awarded fully-funded studentships. This is the case for both UK, European Economic Area (EEA) students and overseas students.

In the event that Britain leaves the EU and there is a resulting change in tuition fees EU students eligible for Research Council funding who begin a PhD before the end of the 2020-21 academic year will continue to receive this throughout their course (subject to meeting the normal residency requirements).

Other sources of studentship funding are not affected and the ICR will continue to pay tuition fees for all students that are not self-funded.

Currently if you are a national of a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, you do not need a visa to study in the UK. In the event that this changes after Brexit, The Institute of Cancer Research has been granted a Tier 4 (General) sponsor licence by the Home Office and can issue you with a CAS to support Tier 4 immigration applications.

Registry will support you through the process as far as possible. For the avoidance of doubt, it is your responsibility to apply for a visa and ensure that you have a correct visa before travelling to the UK.

Additional information

– Information for international students

– Information for EU, EEA or Swiss students (PDF)

General queries

If these FAQs do not answer your questions about studying for a PhD at the Institute of Cancer Research, please contact us at [email protected] (Queries will only be answered Monday - Friday 09:00-17;00 UK Time)


To find out more about student experiences and alumni, see our student profiles and alumni profiles.


For more information about postgraduate life at the ICR, please click here.