SABS provides a tailored training programme for graduates from a diverse range of science backgrounds (including Mathematics, Computing, Statistics, Chemistry, Biochemistry and Physics) who wish to conduct biomedical research using quantitative systems approaches. The programme facilitates the development of leading-edge research in computational, mathematical and physical techniques for biomedical problems in cooperation with the programme’s Industrial Partners.

SABS students undertake a four-year doctoral training programme. The first two terms are devoted to acquiring advanced theoretical and technical skills from the physical sciences, and background knowledge in the life sciences.

After completion of the modules, over Trinity term and the summer of the first year, students undertake two extended laboratory rotations of 12 weeks duration associated with one or two of the research themes. These are similar in scope to a master’s level project.

On completion of the projects students undertake their substantive DPhil research project, with the students based within the research groups of their principal supervisor, which may be in the University or with an Industrial Partner. Throughout this period, SABS provides continuing training and support, tailored to each student.


Students will undertake a series of intensive training modules during their first year. These modules cover life science background and training in mathematical, computational and physical skills required for advanced quantitative systems research in biomedicine.

All courses will be taught by leading researchers, drawn primarily from the academic and industrial supervisor pool associated with SABS. Over 100 hours of the taught programme is delivered by colleagues from industry. Both Foundation and Advanced modules use an intensive, industry-inspired two-week module structure that enables students to rapidly obtain an excellent level of core knowledge and conceptual understanding.

Modules will typically incorporate some or all of the following; directed reading; interactive lectures; problem solving classes; laboratory-based experimental work; programming practicals; workshops; journal clubs; student-led presentations; and discussion groups. They will also make use of the diverse backgrounds of the students as they learn together and from each other.

Monitoring and Assessment

All modules will involve some aspect of formal assessment. This takes a wide variety of forms depending on the module, but in most cases will involve problem-based assessments. Assessment guidelines have been developed to ensure that students are assessed on the progress relative to their background within any given module.