Churchill Scholarship: Science, Mathematics, Engineering

Programs of Study

The first challenge for applicants for a Churchill Scholarship is to identify a program of study, and in most cases a Cambridge laboratory, that best fits your intellectual aspirations. This can be far from straightforward, because the Cambridge structure is different from many American universities, labs in closely related fields can be found in a wide variety of different departments, and the University of Cambridge website can be confusing and, in many cases, incomplete.

There are two different degree courses available to applicants for the Churchill Scholarship: the MPhil (Master of Philosophy) and MASt (Master of Advanced Study). The standard MPhil is a research degree, a program that entails full-time research in a lab, and culminates in a thesis and a viva (an oral examination). The MASt is a taught degree course comprised of lectures and written examinations. Some MPhil courses involve a mixture of taught courses and a research paper, and most MASt courses provide the opportunity to write a research paper. You should check each department’s website for a full description of each course.

In some departments, there is only one MPhil program, and each applicant simply finds the appropriate lab in which to work. In other departments, there are a number of different Master’s courses, some of which may not be eligible for a Churchill Scholarship. The list below is meant to be a general orienting guide of eligible and ineligible courses, but it may be just the start of your search for the Cambridge program that is right for your research interests.

Please note! Other than applicants for the unique MASt in mathematics (Part III of the Mathematical Tripos), the Foundation recommends that applicants for the MPhil programs strongly consider a research-only degree. Hybrid MPhil courses, which are part-taught and part-research, while valuable and appropriate for some candidates, cannot offer the full year of independent research that is the hallmark of the Churchill Scholarship. It is a rare opportunity to be able to spend a full year, undistracted, on a single research project, and unless you have a good reason to opt for a hybird course, the Foundation suggests you embrace this chance.

Life Sciences

Biological Sciences

The following Departments offer the MPhil in Biological Science:

Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit
Mitochondrial Biology Unit
Molecular Biology
Physiology, Development and Neuroscience
Plant Sciences
Wellcome Trust / Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

Veterinary Medicine

MPhil in Veterinary Science

Clinical Medicine

Clinical Academic Training Office
MPhil in Translational Biomedical Research

Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit
MPhil in Biostatistics

Public Health and Primary Care
MPhil in Public Health
(Only eligible if the dissertation is on a medical, as opposed to a policy topic)
MPhil in Epidemiology

The following Departments offer the MPhil in Medical Sciences:

Cambridge Institute for Medical Research
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
Clinical Biochemistry
Clinical Neurosciences
Medical Genetics
Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Physical Sciences


MPhil in Astronomy
MASt in Astrophysics
(*see Physics Note below)

Cambridge Computational Biology Unit

MPhil in Computational Biology


MPhil in Chemistry

Earth Sciences

MPhil in Earth Sciences


MPhil in Geography
MPhil in Polar Studies

Materials Science and Metallurgy

MPhil in Material Science
MASt in Materials Science
MPhil in Micro- & Nanotechnology Enterprise
(Only eligible if the research project undertaken is scientific, rather than business-related)


(The three MASt courses are also called Part III of the Mathematical Tripos. Before you apply to Part III, please read the Foundation’s guide, Part III Mathematics for Churchill Scholars.)
MASt in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics
(*see Physics Note below)
MASt in Pure Mathematics
MASt in Mathematical Statistics
MPhil in Computational Biology


MPhil in Physics (*see Physics Note below)
MPhil in Scientific Computing


Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

MPhil in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology
MPhil in Advanced Chemical Engineering

Computer Laboratory

MPhil in Advanced Computer Science


MPhil in Engineering
MPhil in Energy Technologies
MPhil in Machine Learning, Speech and Language Technology

MPhil in Nuclear Energy

Humanities and Social Sciences


MPhil in Archaeological Science

Biological Anthropology

MPhil in Biological Anthropological Science

Arts and Humanities


MPhil in Music Studies (Only the Music and Science option is eligible)

Ineligible Programs

Please be aware that the Foundation does not accept applications for the following:

MASt in Physics (Physics)
MPhil in Basic and Translational Neuroscience (Physiology, Development and Neuroscience)
MPhil in Bioscience Enterprise (Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology)
MPhil in Conservation Leadership (Geography)
MPhil in Developmental Biology (Physiology, Development and Neuroscience)
MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development (Engineering)
MPhil in Environment, Society and Development (Geography)
MPhil in Genomic Medicine (Medical Genetics)
MPhil in Genomic Science (Sanger Institute)
MPhil in Industrial Systems, Manufacturing and Management (Engineering)
MRes in Integrated Photonics and Electronic Systems (IPES-CDT)
MPhil in Social and Developmental Psychology (Psychology)
MPhil in Technology Policy (Judge Business School)
MRes in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (NanoDTC)
Part III in Systems Biology (Systems Biology Centre)

†These courses are part-taught, and there is no need to contact supervisor in advance for your application.

*Physics Note: Applicants interested in Physics should consider at least three possibilities: the MPhil in Physics (research only); for those with a very strong background in mathematics, the MASt in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (mostly taught courses, with the opportunity to replace one exam paper with a research paper); the MASt in Astrophysics (a lighter version of the previous option in that it includes courses from the MASt in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics along with a two-term research project that counts for one-third of the credit).


Please note that the above list of eligible and ineligible programs is not able to be comprehensive. You might well discover another program appropriate for you. Course offerings are always changing, and there are laboratories and research units in the University of Cambridge that are not always easily found on the Cambridge website. Some labs that do not advertise an MPhil may be willing to take a Churchill Scholar. Previous applicants have found relatively obscure programs that we have subsequently been made eligible (for example, the Faculty of Music offers an MPhil in Music Studies where Music and Science is an option). At the same time, do not assume that a program is eligible just because it is not on the ineligible list.

Please contact the Foundation if you are interested in an area of study not specifically mentioned above, or if you have any questions, by emailing or by calling 212-752-3200.