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Academic support

The Institute of Cancer Research has well-defined procedures for monitoring research student progress and provides support and training to students and supervisors.

The heads of division review projects within their respective areas to ensure scientific quality and that the project meets the requirements of the MPhil/PhD degree. Submission rates and external examiner reports are monitored by our academic committees


A student can expect to have regular formal progress meetings with their supervisor; the recommended frequency is at least every one to two months.

All supervisors receive formal training in research degree supervision and attend periodic update sessions. Every supervisory team must include an experienced member of our rigorously selected Faculty or Honorary Faculty.  

Studentships are awarded to supervisors based on a number of factors including previous performance and success rate.

All students also have a secondary supervisor and, in some cases, an associate supervisor as well. Supervisors submit reports on the work of their students to the Academic Dean’s team at least once a year, highlighting any problem areas if appropriate.


Students will progress through the following stages each year:

Year 1

  • review at six months with Deputy Dean or Senior Tutor
  • a comprehensive upgrade report submitted, including critique of work carried out
  • the report is assessed by an independent assessor, as well as the primary and secondary supervisors
  • student is examined orally by the supervisory team and independent internal assessor
  • decision to transfer from MPhil to PhD decision is made

Year 2

  • annual review with Deputy Dean or Senior Tutor

Year 3

  • annual review with Deputy Dean or Senior Tutor
  • second short report submitted, written as an extension to the first comprehensive report
  • report is assessed by internal assessor and secondary supervisor
  • submission of thesis plan

Year 4

  • quarterly meetings with Deputy Dean or Senior Tutor

Student achievement record

Students are required to maintain a personal development plan in agreement with their supervisor which will include scientific objectives; skills objectives (laboratory, computer, generic transferable skills), and writing, reading and critical review objectives. It is reviewed by a member of the Academic Dean’s team as part of the annual monitoring process.

Students are also encouraged to keep an achievement record, which is a comprehensive record of their learning and achievement, including any formal training undertaken during their programme of study.

ICR values

Our values – developed together as an organisation – make it clear how each and every one of us work to meet our mission – to make the discoveries that defeat cancer.