UCL Division of Infection & Immunity

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PhD Infection, Immunity & Transplantation


“The future of medical research depends on the training of the best scientists and clinician scientists who will become leaders in their field. Maintaining the pool of excellence is a challenge that requires long-term vision and commitment. Our PhD programme is a critical part of this vision. We welcome applications from the best graduates who are committed to strive for excellence in science. With us, they will receive outstanding training, guidance and support to prepare them becoming leaders in their field”

Director of Postgraduate Studies (Research), Ariberto Fassati MD PhD


The UCL Division of Infection & Immunity is part of the Faculty of Medical Sciences. In the last Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2014), the Infection and Immunology panel graded 80% of outputs from the Division as 4* (world leading) or 3* (internationally excellent).

The Division has state of the art facilities, including two level 3 containment laboratories, high through put screening facilities and has access to high content imaging, deep sequencing and RNA-sequencing.

Undergoing profound changes, which will place it in a position of global leadership in both research and teaching, the Division now includes the Institute of Immunity and Transplantation (IIT) based at the Royal Free campus, and will soon include the Bloomsbury Research Institute (BRI) in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). The IIT’s vision is to become a world leading centre for experimental medicine in the fields of transplantation and tissue engineering, vaccination, cell and gene therapy, chronic infection, immunological therapy for cancer and inherited immunological diseases. The BRI’s vision is to become a world-leading centre for research on pathogens with a strong focus on host-pathogen interactions, bridging basic research with clinical research and clinical trials in developing countries, experimental medicine and population sciences. Both Institutes have strong links to UCL hospitals, which include University College Hospital (UCH), The Royal Free Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH), The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, the Moorfields Eye Hospital and other members of UCL Partners

We aim to:

  • Teach our PhD students how to perform world-leading research into Infection & Immunity (basic or translational).
  • Prepare them to become independent researchers.
  • Create a hub of intellectual exchange and collaboration between UCL and the LSHTM and between the BRI and IIT.
  • Foster interdisciplinary research.

We have selected primary supervisors intending to host a student on the basis of excellence of their research, quality of the projects and track record in supervising students.

The Division of Infection & Immunity has been very successful in training PhD students. Over 60% of our students carry on with their career in academia at world leading Institutions, and another 22% enter the academic medical profession (Figure 1).

PhD Student Destination


Each student will have a primary supervisor and a thesis committee, which will include a secondary supervisor (acting as thesis committee chair) and one or two faculty members who can provide guidance and insight over the duration of the project. The thesis committee will have an advisory role and will meet at regular intervals during the PhD. The thesis committee will foster intellectual exchange and collaborations between the student and faculty members as well as among faculty members based at the different Institutes.

For further information about the thesis committee please see visit our website: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/infection-immunity/study/phd/PhD_thesis

Students will have access to lectures and courses organized by the Division. Currently there are 21 courses covering Bacteriology, Virology, Parasitology, Mycology, Epidemiology, Immunology, Allergy and Immunodeficiency.

Admissions Criteria & Process

First Steps

Please refer to UCL's entry requirements pages to see if you have the necessary qualifications to apply to study for a research degree.  Please note for research degree study in our Division, it is not necesary to have completed an MSc first.  If English is not your first language then you must ensure you meet UCL's English language requirements.

We like to ensure that our students are working in the most suitable research group and with the most suitable supervisor. So first of all, look at our list of research groups and research themes to decide in which group topic you have the most interest and expertise, and the investigator who subsequently you will nominate as your principal supervisor.

At this stage you must contact the investigator of your chosen topic directly and include a brief email stating your interest and/or expertise and a CV. You must be able to demonstrate that you have relevant experience and qualifications related to their area of research.  This initial contact and consultation is vital to discuss your suitability, available projects, how the project costs will be met, and how you intend to fund your studies. 

To Apply

Once you have had discussions with your prospective supervisor and you are both happy that you should apply to study in their group, you will need to apply to UCL Admissions for a formal Letter of Offer to Study.  Please refer to the UCL Application & Entry pages for further guidance and to apply online.

Contact: if you have any general queries, that are not answered above or in the below information tabs, contact: Elspeth Latimer (Elspeth.latimer@ucl.ac.uk), Divisional Research Administrator.

Admission Criteria and Process

Admission is competitive. Students must have obtained a First class degree or equivalent from a good Institution. Candidates with an Upper Second class (2.1) degree or equivalent can also apply but in this case the standing of the Institution awarding the degree will have more weigh, along with A-levels (or equivalent) results.

Overseas students should look here for guidance on academic degree equivalence: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/international/countries

Overseas students must also demonstrate English language proficiency (for guidance please visit: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/apply/english-language

Previous research experience will be taken into account.

To apply for a PhD in the Division of Infection and Immunity, students must use the online Portico system https://evision.ucl.ac.uk/urd/sits.urd/run/siw_lgn

choosing Faculty of Medical Sciences, Division of Infection and Immunity Research Degree

Direct your queries to: Elspeth Latimer by email elspeth.latimer@ucl.ac.uk or by telephone: +44(0)203 108 2118

Shortlisted applicants will interviewed in person or via Skype.


Please note that we are currently unable to offer studentships, however we welcome applications from individuals who have secured their own studentship or intend to apply for a studentship.

UK/EU/EEA nationals who have been resident in the UK for a period of 3 years or more prior to application may apply to the Birbeck-UCL MRC Doctoral training programme [https://www.ucl.ac.uk/slms/aco/bat/programmes/mrc_dtp] within the themes of “Fundamental Mechanism of Disease” or “Experimental and Personalised Medicine”. Successful applicants will be able to take a PhD in the Division of Infection & Immunity.

Overseas students (non-EEA nationals) must obtain independent funding that covers tuition fees, £23,020 (FT fee for 2016-17), per year for 3 years subject to yearly increments and living expenses. Funds to cover consumables for research are desirable but may not be necessary. Information on scholarships can be found here:


You need to provide your prospective supervisor information on how you propose to fund your studies; if at this stage you do not have secured funding, please indicate where you are/will be seeking funding from.

It is essential you know exactly what costs are involved with studying a research degree.  The basic costs can be broken down into:

  • student fees
  • materials/research costs
  • living costs

There are different levels of student fees, and you should be aware of which level applies to you.  Materials and research costs should be discussed directly with your prospective supervisor to ascertain how much this would be, as costs vary from project to project. 

Living in London can be expensive and you should budget your living costs carefully. Advice is given on the UCL Accommodation Services Website.  If you have been awarded a studentship, scholarship, bursary, or award, the awarding body should outline to you exactly what costs they will cover.  For further information on student fees, loans, scholarships, and financial support, see the UCL Money Website

While the Division offers a number of studentships during the year, alternative sources of funding can be sought by prospective students within UCL, or through external sources. Prospective students must be aware that their continued study at UCL is dependent on their ability to secure funding, whether by the award of scholarships (UCL or external), loans, government schemes or otherwise.

PhD Funding Schemes Available via UCL

BBSRC London Interdisciplinary Doctoral Programme http://lido-dtp.ac.uk/index.html
UCL Graduate Research Scholarships* http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/scholarships/graduate/UK-EU_Res/grs
UCL-Birkbeck MRC Doctoral Training Programme https://www.ucl.ac.uk/slms/aco/bat/programmes/mrc_dtp
UCL at The Crick https://www.crick.ac.uk/about-us/jobs-and-study/phd-students/

*Includes information on the Graduate Research Scholarships (GRS), UCL Overseas Scholarships (ORS) and the UCL-China Scholarships Council Scholarships (UCL-CSC) 

Schemes for Clinicians

MBPhD Programme https://www.ucl.ac.uk/mbphd
Wellcome Trust PhD Programme for Clinicians http://www.ucl.ac.uk/slms/aco/features/WTF/wellcome_trust

Application Criteria

  • The BBSRC and MRC schemes require that the student is either from the UK or from the EU but have been studying at a UK university for the past 3 years.
  • The Graduate Research Scholarships are open to overseas students.
  • The MBPhD is only available for students currently completing a primary medical qualification (MBBS, MBChB or equivalent) at a UK medical school.
  • The Wellcome Trust PhD programme requires that you are a GMC-registered clinician with relevant connection to the EEA.

Seminars & Events

Attending seminars and presentations is an important aspect of the PhD. UCL offers a large selection of seminars and events with invited speakers from top Institutions worldwide. Students are encouraged to attend such seminars that are relevant to their studies and their scientific interests.

The Division organises weekly external seminars in the fields of Infection (Virology, Parasitology, Bacteriology) and Immunology and students are expected to attend. Once a month, the Division organizes internal seminars where 2 to 4 PhD students and postdoctoral fellows present their research to colleagues and faculty members.

Every year a PhD Colloquium is held in June where all the PhD students in the Division present their research. Prizes for the two best presentations are awarded on the day. A prominent scientist is invited to address the students at the end of the day with a talk covering his/her scientific discoveries and career.

A Postgraduate Club is organised by students with the support of the programme Committee. The Club invites external speakers in different areas (science, politics, media, industry, finance). Each talk is followed by a reception where the students can talk informally with the speaker.

Career Development

Career development advice will be provided through out the PhD by supervisors and thesis committees.

The Postgraduate Club will host meetings with senior faculty members who will provide advice on career progression (postdoc, fellowships, independent PI, how to set up your own lab). In addition, the Club will host informal talks and meetings with senior people working in Industry, Biotech, Scientific Writing and Entrepreneurs.

UCL has a dedicated Career office that offers advice on various aspects of the career progression, including preparation for job interviews and self-promotion. For further information visit: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers.

UCL, through its Professional Development Programme, offers a vast choice of targeted courses for skills training, including communication skills, writing grant proposals, assertiveness, ethics etc. For further information visit: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/od/pdp/theme.php.

The Division of Infection & Immunity has been awarded a Silver Athena Swan Award and is committed to supporting diversity in science.

In addition to the social events organized by the Division of Infection & Immunity, UCL offers a wide choice of leisure and social activities, including many clubs and societies and sporting facilities. For further information visit: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/study-abroad-guide/life-at-ucl/leisure-social

PhD Projects & Supervisors

Please click on the link below for a list of current of Projects and PhD Supervisors:

PhD Projects & Supervisors

Forms for Current PhD students


PhD Contacts
Postgraduate Tutor
Dr Ari Fassati
a.fassati [at] ucl.ac.uk
Deputy Postgraduate Tutor
Dr Ben Seddon
benedict.seddon [at] ucl.ac.uk
Divisional Research Administrator
Elspeth Latimer
elspeth.latimer [at] ucl.ac.uk

 For a full list of staff please see the Divisional Contacts page.

Page last modified on 16 feb 16 12:54 by Jade A E Donovan