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Engineering Biology in Cambridge


Creative educational approaches will be required to inspire the next generation of synthetic biologists and develop future leaders in the field.

ERASynBio Strategic Vision, 2014

Engineering Biology is an interdisciplinary field and training for students as well as new and existing researchers is vital to deliver on its potential. The UK government have invested over £2 million in training for synthetic biology since 2013 and training was a major focus on the UK roadmap and ERASynBio strategic visions.

The IRC will help link those working or interested in synthetic biology at the University of Cambridge to a range of opportunities for learning, training and gaining practical research experience in the field.

If you want more information on opportunities listed here, have a suggestion for training that should be organised within the University or would like to offer training/mentoring to other members of the IRC, please contact the IRC Coordinator on


Undergraduate Level

Plant Sciences Part II L1 module: Synthetic Biology and Plant Biotechnology 

Three Lectures for Part II Plant Sciences undergraduates examining the history of plant biotechnology through to recent advances in Synthetic Biology, Self-organisation and reprogramming of multicellular systems.

Engineering Tripos Part IIA, 3G1: Molecular Bioengineering I

An intensive course of 16 lectures and a computational lab providing a basic grounding in
key aspects of molecular bioscience with an emphasis on bioscience engineering.

Engineering Tripos 4G8: Molecular Bioengineering II

Coming soon - expected to run for the first time in Lent 2023.

Part III Course in Systems Biology: Modelling in Biology (MIB)

A course of lectures and 5 computer-based practical sessions to introduce students to the de novo design of biological systems using the techniques of Synthetic Biology and computational simulation.

Cambridge University Synthetic Biology Society (SynBioSoc)

A new society, founded by 2015 Cambridge-JIC iGEM teamaiming to spread the word of Synthetic Biology by running a diverse programme of events throughout term time including talks, outreach and projects. 

Biomaker Challenge 

A a five-month programme challenging interdisciplinary teams to (i) build low-cost sensors and instruments for biology or (ii) develop some biological resource or outreach project. Over three years, the Biomaker Challenge has funded over 60 open source projects and involved over 200 participants from a wide range of backgrounds. 


Graduate Level

Several labs in Cambridge accept students on Synthetic Biology related PhD programmes. No synthetic biology-specific teaching courses are currently in place, but several Masters and PhD programmes teach related content.

M.Phil. in Computational Biology: Biodesign half-module

The MPhil in Computational Biology is an 11-month course aimed at introducing students to quantitative aspects of biological and medical sciences. It is intended for mathematicians, computer scientists and others wishing to learn about the subject in preparation for a PhD course or a career in industry. The course consists of core modules in bioinformatics, scientific programming with R, genomics, systems biology and network biology. Biodesign will be an optional half-module.

The following doctoral training centres also provide skills training relevant to synthetic biology:

Graduate opportunities are advertised via the University and will be uploaded to this site as they become available. Many lab heads can be contacted via this site.


Post-Graduate/Researcher Level

There are no formal training courses for researchers but opportunities will be advertised via this site as they arise and suggestions of offers of training and mentoring for research colleagues are welcomed. Please contact the SRI Coordinator on for more information.

Researchers with OpenPlant in Cambridge (ROC)

ROC work with plant systems with a SynBio mindset. The group meets once a month to share ideas, resources and tools. 


Biomakespace is Cambridge’s first community based, open access biology and prototyping space, on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. They aim to build a community of scientists, engineers, technologists, entrepreneurs, teachers, artists and members of the public interested in engineering with biology. Biomakespace offers a range of training courses and informal training/mentoring.

SynBio Centre for Doctoral Training

The EPSRC & BBSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Synthetic Biology is a doctoral training program that combines the fundamental understanding of biological systems with the principles of engineering, so as to create the next generation of industrial and academic leaders in the nascent field of Synthetic Biology. The 4-year training programme has been created in partnership with industrial, academic and public facing organizations and includes responsible innovation, transferrable skills and outreach activities. SynBioCDT will endow you with the skills necessary to fulfil the potential of Synthetic Biology and to have a strong impact in this area.