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At UCL we're proud of our pioneering history, our distinguished present and our exciting future. UCL is a great place to be a student – here are some of the reasons why.
2nd - UCL is the second most-highly cited university in Europe and 15th in the world (source: Thomson Scientific Citation Index)
- rated the best research university in London, and third best in the UK
overall, by the UK government’s latest Research Assessment Exercise
5th in the world (QS World University Rankings 2014/15).
4th in Europe (Academic World University Rankings 2014)
UCL has the best academic to student ratio in the UK – 1:10.2 compared to the national average of 1:17.8.
29 Nobel Prize winners who are, or were, students or academics at UCL.
UCL staff and students come from a total of 151 countries.
2nd highest number of professors in any UK university.
920 professors; the UK average is 105.
You’ll study with world-leading experts, and benefit from a programme of distinguished visitors and guest speakers.
You’ll benefit from outstanding individual attention for your studies.
Our wide-ranging expertise across all fields of study provides opportunities for groundbreaking interdisciplinary investigation.
£334 million of research grant income (2012/13).
1st - UCL has the highest number of UK Research Council grants.
3rd - UCL has the third highest number of European Research Council (FP7) grants awarded to EU Higher Education institutions 2007–2013.
1st - UCL has the highest number of students funded through Doctoral Training Centres, with 1,000 PhD students funded over the next five years.
The Yale UCL Collaborative is a unique partnership, enabling UCL students and staff to spend a period of time undertaking research at Yale University.
We conduct research in collaboration with international industry partners such as Cisco, Intel and Microsoft.
Our academic partners span the globe, and include world-leading
institutions such as NYU Wagner, Harvard, Stanford, the University of
Peking, the University of Sydney and the University of Zurich.
We attract speakers and guest lecturers from around the world.
Your graduate degree constitutes an important step on your route to achieving your ambitions. Whatever your plans, study at UCL is designed to equip you not only with the academic knowledge associated with your chosen qualification, but also with skills for life.
Vital skills such as organising your ideas and time, analysing information, communicating complex concepts, appreciating and assimilating different perspectives, and applying theory to real-world circumstances are built into our programmes and supported by training. Such skills are highly valued by employers, and UCL offers a wealth of advice and support to help you achieve your personal, academic and professional aims. Our series of professional networking events is specifically designed to help new graduates embark on their careers.
UCL Careers also runs a vast number of events which are open to all students. UCL Careers is part of The Careers Group, University of London. UCL students are eligible to attend events hosted by The Careers Group.
UCL Advances is UCL’s centre for entrepreneurship and business interaction. We help our students who want to learn about, start or grow a business. We provide funding, business mentoring and consultancy, free office space, networking opportunities and internships, a programme of events and prizes for innovation.
UCL Advances is unique in the UK Higher Education sector
Get involved with local businesses and gain hands-on experience by
becoming a student consultant.
UCL Advances Enterprise Scholarships provide funding for PhD students seeking to commercialise their research
Our business advisors provide impartial, confidential advice and business support to UCL students and recent alumni looking to start or develop their business
The UCL Bright Ideas Awards – established in 2008 to help new companies take their first steps into the market – offer a total of £50,000 in business loans to UCL student entrepreneurs.
PhD student Jake Fairnie and Dr Anna Remington (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience) have developed a website where users can work together to summarise research papers. MiniManuscript, described as the Wikipedia for academic literature, won the UCL Bright Ideas Award in 2012 together with a Shell Livewire Grand Ideas Award. The duo hope that MiniManuscript will be a huge timesaver for researchers, providing a much-needed tool in the world of academic research. “It’s like watching trailers for movies before you watch them,” explains Jake, “it doesn’t replace the full feature but it means you only go to see the ones you really want to watch.”
BlueRonin (now called BaseStone) is an integrated platform and mobile application, enabling engineers and architects to manage their drawings more effectively. It’s the brainchild of UCL alumnus Alex Siljanovski, who, following advice from UCL Advances, developed a proposition that won the London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge in 2013. He has now taken his product to market and runs the business from the IDEALondon offices in Shoreditch, East London.
UCL works in London, the UK and throughout the world with partners in education, business, healthcare, development, philanthropy and government to find solutions to some of humankind’s most pressing issues, and to undertake groundbreaking research across the academic spectrum. A few examples are shown here.
The Francis Crick Institute is a brand-new biomedical research institute based in the King's Cross area of London, a short walk from UCL. It is scheduled to open in 2015 and will carry out research into illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and neurological diseases. UCL is one of the founding partners of this unique, interdisciplinary centre.
The Yale UCL Collaborative is a multi-disciplinary, transatlantic research, education and clinical collaboration between Yale University and UCL. Originally set up to share knowledge in the field of cardiovascular medicine, the initiative has subsequently expanded to other biomedical fields and other disciplines, including engineering, history, philosophy and law.
A ‘Cities Changing Diabetes’ programme has been developed by UCL, Novo Nordisk and the Steno Diabetes Centre, a world-leading institution in diabetes care and prevention. Launched initially in Mexico City, with the intention of rolling out to cities in Europe, Asia and North America, the programme aims to map the areas where diabetes is most prevalent and drive concrete action to fight the disorder.
UCL engineers are working with the Peruvian, German and UK governments to develop and implement low carbon transport policies, and are working on a demonstration project in Lima which will show how such policies can improve the quality of life for the whole population.
Research into, and teaching of, Chinese health is carried out by UCL’s China Centre for Health & Humanity, in collaboration with Peking University. The research includes work on the origins and spread of acupuncture and Chinese medical knowledge and its practice around the world.
Researchers from UCL EPICentre (Earthquake and People Interaction Centre) are working in Japan and other tsunami- and earthquake-prone areas, investigating the effects of tsunami on coastal infrastructure, developing methods of predicting building and infrastructure damage in earthquakes, and using new technologies for disaster relief and mitigation purposes.
UCL’s interdisciplinary Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) research group works with indigenous peoples, giving them innovative tools to map areas of importance to them and log any incursions into those areas. This helps to ensure that during the development of policy decisions their voices will be heard.
Researchers from UCL Earth Sciences are working to interpret the data from the European Space Agency’s CryoSat mission, designed to measure the changing thickness of land and sea ice over the Earth’s polar regions and determine how these regions are affected by climate change.
Scientists at CERN, including members of UCL’s High Energy Physics Group, announced in 2013 that they had found the elusive Higgs Boson. The existence of this subatomic particle, crucial to the formation of the universe, had previously only been theorised.
At the very heart of UCL’s mission is our research. We aspire to deliver a culture of wisdom and provide a supportive environment where academic insight can thrive, deepening knowledge and developing solutions to problems worldwide. We encourage academics to work across traditional subject boundaries and have established numerous centres to facilitate cross-disciplinary interaction.
UCL’s Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology has launched an interactive online 3D object library, allowing visitors to view the artefacts in the same way as curators. The Arts Council England-funded project, part of a collaboration with UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering and business partner Arius 3D, is the latest in a series of 3D interactive projects from the museum. Powered by cutting-edge photographic 3D imaging and scanning technology, the library allows visitors to rotate and zoom in on the 3D images of artefacts, catching fine details often not visible to the naked eye.
Students and staff at UCL’s teaching observatory have spotted one of the closest supernovae to Earth in recent decades, at around 12 million light years away. The International Astronomical Union official report on 22 January 2014 confirms that the team were the first to report the new supernova, and gives it the designation SN 2014J. Data collected by astronomers at other observatories around the world suggest that it is a Type 1a supernova, caused by a white dwarf star pulling matter off a larger neighbouring star until the white dwarf becomes unstable and explodes.
A new study has defined, for the first time, how our ability to identify where it hurts – spatial acuity – varies across the body. The UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology study, which involved specially calibrated lasers creating a pinprick-like pain at various parts of participant’s bodies, produced the first systematic map of how acuity for pain is distributed. The map, which identifies the forehead and fingertips as the sites where spatial acuity is greatest, may enable doctors to monitor nerve damage, offering a quantitative way to see if a condition is getting better or worse.
Research led by archaeologists from UCL, the University of Cambridge and the University of Central Lancashire has traced London’s international fish trade back 800 years to the medieval period. Data from nearly 3,000 cod bones found in excavations in and around London is providing new insight into the globalisation of the capital’s food supply. It has revealed a sudden change in the origin of the fish during the early 13th century, indicating the onset of a large-scale import trade. The Black Death is believed to be the cause of a temporary drop in imports in the late 14th century, whilst a surge around AD 1500 coincides with the beginnings of transatlantic trade and the arrival of cod from Newfoundland.
A global map detailing the genetic histories of various populations across the world has been developed by researchers from UCL and the University of Oxford. It reveals the likely genetic impacts of European colonialism, the Arab slave trade, the Mongol Empire and European traders near the Silk Road mixing with people in China. Researchers developed sophisticated statistical methods to analyse the DNA of 1,490 individuals in 95 populations around the world. As well as providing fresh insights into historical events, the new research might have implications for how DNA impacts health and disease in different populations.
A genetic tweak can make light work of some nervous disorders. Researchers at the UCL Institute of Neurology have found that using flashes of light to stimulate modified neurons can restore movement to paralysed muscles. ‘Optogenetics’ has been hailed as one of the most significant recent developments in neuroscience and involves genetically modifying neurons so they produce a light-sensitive protein. The protein then makes the neurons ‘fire’, sending an electrical signal when they are exposed to light. This new technique represents a means to restore the function of specific muscles following paralysing neurological injuries or disease and it is hoped that the technique can be developed into treatments for patients with motor neurone disease.
UCL and HR Wallingford, a specialist hydraulic research consultancy, are collaborating to construct the largest tsunami simulator in Europe. The facility, funded by a €1.9million European Research Council grant, will be 70m long and 4m wide, enabling the simulation of a tsunami impact on urban areas for the first time. The new generator will also be used to evaluate whether flood and coastal defences are effective against tsunamis, or how they may amplify destructiveness, causing more devastation to areas previously thought to be safe. Once completed, the research will produce engineering guidance which can assist in disaster management worldwide.
A study by UCL Epidemiology & Public Health has found that eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day can dramatically reduce the risk of death. The study suggests that people can reduce the risks of death by cancer and heart disease by 25% and 31% respectively and dying prematurely at any point in time by 42%, compared to eating less than one portion. The findings support the Australian government’s ‘Go for 2 + 5’ guidelines, which recommend eating two portions of fruit and five of vegetables and go on to show that whatever your starting point, it is always worth eating more fruit and vegetables.
A team of UCL Electronic & Electrical Engineering students recently won first prize in the ‘best use of hardware’ category at the NASA 2014 International Space Apps Challenge. Their project, Android Base Station, allows smartphones to become wifi hotspots by connecting to satellites using a 3D-printed robotic arm. The resulting ultra-portable, satellite tracking station has the ability to log the changes of micro-satellites in orbit, and automatically use one offering the cheapest bandwidth – satisfying the judges, who were looking for innovative solutions for global challenges, using publicly available data.
UCL Technology Entrepreneurship MSc graduate, Marcin Piatkowski, has raised £180,000 in investment for his new folding electric bike, Jive Bike. The first of its kind, this Crowdcube-funded project is constructed from aluminium and is chainless, being propelled instead through enclosed drive shafts linked to the pedals. In developing the idea, Marcin won both a £15,000 Bright Ideas Award and a business plan competition organised by UCL Advances which provided him with a further £10,000. UCL Advances also gave Marcin one-to-one business advice. Orders for the bike – which will retail at an anticipated price of £1,500 – have already been taken.
Discover some of the innovative research being carried out by academics and PhD students across UCL's faculties.
"My research focuses on the use of computational techniques to enable research in the arts and humanities that would otherwise be impossible. I’m interested in – and have been involved in – a variety of research areas that span many aspects of Digital Humanities, including imaging ancient and medieval documents, 3D scanning of cultural and heritage materials and an iOS application to deliver text analysis to a wide audience.
My work is fundamentally interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary: I’m proud to have joint PhD students with Archaeology, Medical Physics, Computer Science, and Civil, Environmental, and Geomatic Engineering! We aim to explore how computational methods can benefit arts and humanities, heritage and culture, but also how to use various technologies and to report back on what it means to be using these technologies in new ways. It is a relatively new area and a vibrant research field."
Professor Melissa Terras
Professor in Digital Humanities
"I study the human brain and how it enables us to use our voices for communication – I study how we speak, why we sound the way we do, all the other ways that we express information in our voices, and how our brains decode all of this.
I’ve recently been particularly interested in laughter, as it’s a very interesting and ubiquitous emotion which seems to be very important in social interactions. My research is highly interdisciplinary, and I collaborate with physicists, phoneticians and neurologists, as well as clinical psychologists and cognitive scientists. I also work with other kinds of voice experts, such as beat boxers and impressionists. I’d really like to understand our voices and how we can help people whose voices have changed."
Professor Sophie Scott
Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience
"I am a medical physicist and my research focuses on the development of non-invasive optical brain imaging systems. These systems are currently being used in a range of multi-disciplinary projects including the investigation of early markers of autism in the first few months of life, understanding the role of malnutrition in brain development in Gambian infants, and monitoring acute brain injury in adult patients in neurocritical care.
We have active collaborations with neurodevelopmental psychologists at Birkbeck, University of London, global nutrition experts at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and clinicians at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery."
Professor Clare Elwell
Professor of Medical Physics
"The main focus of my research is environmental justice. I am exploring different dimensions of this field, especially in relation to climate change and local land use decision making.
I have introduced a practical element into some of my teaching and research so that my students advise community groups about legal issues which affect them, for example community asset transfer, the effects of the Localism Act and the legal aspects of protesting against fracking developments. As a result, postgraduate students have produced a series of step-by-step community guides which are available to a broader range of groups and users. As a legal academic, the UCL Faculty of Laws has opened doors to the legal profession.
But in addition, UCL’s reputation and location has meant that I have worked with a broad base of environmental organisations, including those in the charitable and NGO sectors."
Professor Jane Holder
Professor in Environmental Law
"I study the pharmacology and function of GABAA receptors, which mediate inhibitory neurotransmission in the mammalian central nervous system. These receptors control the excitability of neurons, and dysfunctions in GABAergic neurotransmission are associated with several neurological disorders including epilepsy, stroke, anxiety and autism. Therefore, GABAA receptors represent a major therapeutic target for several neurological conditions.
My PhD has focused on identifying compounds that can selectively distinguish between the different GABAA receptor subtypes, with the aim of developing novel treatments with minimal side effects. Moreover, I have developed a deeper understanding of the structure, physiology and general pharmacology of GABAA receptors, which will contribute to our understanding of GABAA receptors in both healthy and diseased states."
"My PhD at UCL CoMPLEX is highly interdisciplinary, which means that throughout the degree I’ve worked closely with professors in both mathematical and medical sciences, researching topics at the cutting edge of both fields.
I’m working on statistical network models, which are basically mathematical descriptions of the patterns which emerge as a result of interactions between discrete entities such as friends on Facebook, or in my research, human genes. Friends on Facebook group together naturally, and so do genes which interact with and influence each other.
We’re approaching fundamental and unanswered questions in mathematical statistics, which is interesting in itself, but there are also many wider applications of such work. The application we’re focusing on is the identification of candidate biomarkers, which might ultimately give warning of disease risk or severity, as part of medical screening and diagnosis."
"Our group is looking how to improve the diagnosis and impact of prostate cancer. The group is composed of a wide range of medical professionals, as well as computer scientists, engineers, clinical trialists, and patients. This broad skill set means we can approach the problem from all angles and deliver research which is relevant to the NHS and the patients being looked after within it.
Our research has already changed practice, in that men are now commonly offered an MRI scan before they have a prostate biopsy to diagnose prostate cancer. Prior to our research, the biopsy was done straight away. Our research has also led to improvements in treatment so that many more men now have access to minimally invasive therapies rather than traditional treatments which can carry lots of side-effects."
MRC Clinician Scientist and Senior Clinical Lecturer in Urology
"My main research is in translational medicine. I lead the Prenatal Cell and Gene Therapy Group at the UCL Institute for Women’s Health. Our aim is to develop prenatal therapies for life-threatening disorders such as congenital diseases (e.g. thalassaemia) or obstetric complications such as fetal growth restriction. At the same time I am working with ethicists, patients and the public to investigate the safety and ethical issues of such treatments.
I collaborate with UCL medical physicists, medical image computing experts and engineers to develop new ways to image and treat the fetus in the womb. My group works closely with the Surgery Unit at the UCL Institute of Child Health to investigate the therapeutic potential of fetal stem cells such as those found in the amniotic fluid and placenta. We are currently setting up the first amniotic fluid stem biobank for therapeutic use."
Reader in Obstetrics and Maternal Fetal Medicine
"My PhD uses a case study of the response of a rural province to the Russian famine of 1891–92 to understand how the late Tsarist state functioned. The famine, which killed between 200,000–400,000 people and saw 80 million people receive food aid, was an event that shook the foundations of the state and contributed to the political environment that would lead to the 1917 revolution. The very provinces affected by the famine were seen as chaotic places and backwaters, incapable of either proper government or mounting a proper response to crises.
My research challenges this by looking at previously unseen archival material and focusing on key provincial institutions such as the governor, provincial and district councils and village administration. I aim to show that despite being chronically under-resourced, they were proactive, sought to correct structural defects and used the crisis to articulate a strong sense of local initiative and identity."
"My research in recent years has focused on Stonehenge – why was it built, by whom, and when? Since 2003 I’ve been leading a team of top archaeologists from different universities in the UK to answer these questions. Our many discoveries include a large settlement in its vicinity, a hitherto unknown henge at the end of Stonehenge’s ceremonial avenue, and a natural land form underneath this avenue, coincidentally aligned on the solstice, that we think attracted prehistoric people to this spot.
Currently we are researching the sources of the stones for Stonehenge. Whilst the larger ones were probably brought from just 20 miles away, many of the smaller ones came from Pembrokeshire in Wales, a journey of about 180 miles. One theory that we are investigating is the possibility that there was an even earlier ‘Stonehenge’ in Pembrokeshire, and that it was dismantled and brought to Salisbury Plain in an act of unification."
Professor Mike Parker Pearson
Professor of British Later Prehistory