Research areas:

The MRes and MPhil/PhD together form an integrated four-year programme. Students are involved in a range of interdisciplinary research projects that involve collaborations between supervisors drawn from the UCL departments within the Faculties of Brain Sciences, Engineering Sciences, Life Sciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Medical Sciences, Population Health Sciences and Social and Historical Sciences. Each project has dual supervision, with one supervisor from the mathematical and physical sciences and the other from the life and medical sciences.

The research carried out addresses biological complexity. Research is organised into themes across the biological scales:
  • Biomolecular mechanisms
  • Cancer biology
  • Immunology and Infectious disease
  • Evolution and dynamics of populations
  • Integration of cellular function
  • Interdisciplinary cardiovascular research
  • Physiological and neural systems
  • Synthetic biology
  • Systems biology.
This diversity exploits the unique breadth of research strength at UCL which allows us to offer challenging research projects both within and across the scales of biological organisation. The training experience offered meets the UK need, both in industry and academia, for outstanding graduates able to apply mathematical, computational and physical science techniques to real biological problems. Examples of current PhD projects include: Mathematical Modelling of Genomic Evolution, Cellular Metabolic Signalling, HIV, Biology and Immunology; Biophysics of Vascular Fluid Mechanics, Hearing and Ion Channels; Imaging, Optical and Scanning Probe Approaches to Nanoscale Bioscience; Spatial Ecology.

IRIS logo

Visit the IRIS research portal to learn more about researchers' activities, research groups, research centres and interdisciplinary networks across the whole of UCL.

IRIS department: CoMPLEX: Mat&Phys in Life Sci & Exp Bio

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor’s degree in any area of the mathematical, physical, computer, engineering or life sciences from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. For students from the life science, some mathematics experience is necessary (e.g. a minimum of an 'A' grade for A Level mathematics). Progression to the PhD element depends on successfully passing the MRes programme in the first year.

English level expected: Standard


Research degrees may start at any time of the year, but typically start in September. Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit (contact listed in Next steps, right) to see if you need to consider these in your application preparation. In most cases you should identify and contact potential supervisors before making your application. For more information see our How to apply page.


  • UK/EU Full-time: £4,500
  • Overseas Full-time: £20,900


Studentships are available from CoMPLEX UCL, BBSRC, British Heart Foundation, EPSRC, MRC, Renishaw Plc., Child Health Research Appeal Trust, National Physical Laboratory, AstraZeneca, Annals of Human Genetics and the Sackler Institute. Doctoral Training Centre Studentships provide full funding for four years (for UK and limited EU places).

Scholarships available for this department

CSC-UCL Joint Research Scholarship

Funding offered by UCL and the China Scholarships Council (CSC) aims to expand the educational, cultural and technological cooperation between the UK and China.

UCL/CoMPLEX Scholarship

Full details of funding opportunities can be found on the UCL Scholarships website


The majority of recent graduates remain in academia in interdisciplinary science. They have taken up postdoctoral and fellowship positions in academic and industrial research centres in the UK, Europe and USA. A small number have pursued careers in science policy analysis, cyber security, science teaching, statistical and mathematical consultancy, technology consultancy, or in management and the financial sector.

Top career destinations for this programme

  • Public Health England, Research Scientist in Multi Criteria Decision Analysis, 2009
  • John Higgins laboratory in the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Research Fellow, 2009
  • Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, BRC Statistical Modeller, 2008
  • Gloucester Research, London, Software Developer, 2007
  • Harvard Medical School, Research Fellow, 2008


CoMPLEX management has undertaken market research and built upon relationships with existing and new partners within academia and industry, to develop our existing CoMPLEX programme. so that it continues to be designed specifically to provide training that meets market needs. Graduates have excellent publication outputs, this, together with CoMPLEX's international reputation means that graduates are and will continue to be recognised when entering the job market. Some of our graduates have already established leadership roles in interdisciplinary science, e.g. Assistant Professor in Physics, Stanford University.


CoMPLEX has a close relationship with a number of external partners who contribute to our supervisor pool, such as the Zoological Society of London, Cancer Research UK, Microsoft Research Cambridge, Renishaw Plc., the Francis Crick Institute, Child Health Research Appeal Trust, Science & Technology Facilities Council, AstraZeneca and the MRC National Institute for Medical Research. Students will have the opportunity to apply to undertake a three-month secondment at some of the above partners, as well as lonscope Ltd., Pfizer, Public Health England and Rutgers State Unviersity of New Jersey to enrich their research experience and help develop their scientific career.

Next steps


Centre Administrator

T: +44 (0)20 7679 4325/4323


Centre for Mathematics and Physics in the Life Sciences and Experimental Biology

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Lorette Noiret

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