Copenhagen Bioscience PhD Programme

Fully-funded four year PhD programme in an international scientific environment

Pre-doc Year

During the first (pre-doc) year of the Copenhagen Bioscience PhD Programme students follow a curriculum comprising five courses, three rotation projects, and the start of a long-term project that will likely become their PhD project:


Current CPH Bioscience PhD pre-docs can access course materials here.

1) Introduction to Molecular Bioscience

New students start with the lecture course ‘Introduction to Molecular Bioscience’. Two days of lectures at each of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Research Centers give an excellent overview of the cutting-edge research and top researchers at all four Centers. These lectures extend students’ knowledge of protein research, basic metabolic research, stem cell research and bioengineering research.

2) Rotation Projects

For the rotation projects, students choose three supervisors whose labs they are interested in joining. Each two-week rotation project allows the student to get to know research methods and important questions related to the lab’s research field. At the end of each rotation project students give a short talk to their CPH Bioscience PhD pre-doc peer group, presenting the research question they have been thinking about during the rotation project.

After completing the rotation projects each student joins one of the labs they rotated in and starts their long-term research project.

3) Critical Thinking Courses

The four critical thinking courses run consecutively between November and March, during which time students spend approx. one day per week on the courses and the remaining four days per week in the lab working on their long-term research project. All students must take all four courses, one per Center: ‘Protein Research and Critical Thinking’, ‘Stem Cell Research and Critical Thinking’, ‘Basic Metabolic Research and Critical Thinking’, ‘Bioengineering and Critical Thinking’.

Each course comprises four discussion sessions hosted by one Center. Each week, discussion is led by senior researchers from that Center, and based around a problem set of current publications and related questions. Taken together, the four sessions cover the range of research at that Center. These discussions strengthen knowledge of cutting-edge research questions and methods, and improve skills in critical reading of literature and evaluation of experiments.

4) Long-term Research Project, Research Proposal and Qualifying Exam

The long-term research project starts in November, and runs in parallel to the ‘Molecular Bioscience and Critical Thinking’ courses. Towards the end of the pre-doc year a Research Proposal covering plans for the PhD Years (years 2-4), and presenting data from research so far, is submitted to the student’s Assessment Committee (comprising their supervisor, another Group Leader from their Center, and a Group Leader from another Center). At the Qualifying Exam, the student discusses their Research Proposal with their Assessment Committee, and the Assessment Committee give feedback. If students gain a positive outcome from the Qualifying Exam they are allowed to progress to the second year, and may apply to the Graduate School at the University of Copenhagen or the Technical University of Denmark for enrolment as a PhD student. The student’s PhD supervisor and their Center’s PhD coordinator advise on preparation of the PhD application.