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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.
Learn about UCL's proud history and how it's a world-leading multi-disciplinary university based in the heart of London.
- UCL is the top-rated university in the UK for research strength, according to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, by a measure of research score multiplied by staff numbers submitted.
2nd - UCL is the 2nd most-highly cited university in Europe (source: Thomson Scientific Citation Index)
3rd in Europe (Academic World University Rankings 2015).
7th in the world, including 1st for education (QS World University Rankings 2015).
UCL has the best academic to student ratio in the UK – 1:10.3 compared to the national average of 1:16.8.
29 Nobel Prize winners who are, or were, students or academics at UCL.
UCL staff and students come from a total of 154 countries.
2nd highest number of professors in any UK university.
840 professors; the UK average is 84
You’ll study with world-leading experts, and benefit from a programme of distinguished visitors and guest speakers.
Our wide-ranging expertise across all fields of study provides opportunities for groundbreaking interdisciplinary investigation.
£557 million of research grant income (2014)
1st - UCL is the best performing university in the first year of the EU funding scheme Horizon 2020, securing a total of €73.2 million over 55 projects
2nd - UCL has the second 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.
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 the voices of indigenous peoples are heard during the development of policy decisions.
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.
Together with their global partners, scientists at UCL-TB have helped to reduce the time needed to genetically sequence the bacteria causing tuberculosis (Mtb) from weeks to days. As part of the European Union FP7-funded PATHSEEK consortium they have developed a new technique that could help health service porviders to better treat disease, control transmission of this infection, and monitor outbreaks. With the rapid sequencing this work makes available, it will be possible to trace TB infections in communities, or to identify a few highly infectious people, sometimes called 'super-spreaders'.
A team of researchers from the Hunter-Gatherer Resilience Project in UCL Anthropology have demonstrated that sex equality in decision-making within hunter-gatherer groups results in a lower level of relatedness in a group's composition. The team's work noted that it wasn't that indivduals are notinterested in living with kin, but rather, if all individuals seek to live with as many iin as possible, no-one ends up living with many kin at all. It is from modern-day hunter-gatherer societies that we get the closest extant examples of human lifestyles and social organisation in the past, offering important insights into human evolutionary history.
A new way to process fibre optic signals has been demonstrated by UCL Engineering researchers. This could double the distance at which data travels error-free through transatlantic submarine cables. The new method has the potential to reduce the costs of long-distance optical fibre communications. Signals would no longer need to be electronically boosted on their underground or ocean-floor journeys. One of the biggest global challenges is how to maintain communications with demand for the internet booming - finding processes to overcome the capacity limits of optical fibre cables is a large part of solving that problem.
Researchers at UCL's Genetics Institute, along with those from the University of Oxford and the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Australia, have helped create the first fine-scale genetic map of any country in the world. The Wellcome Trust-funded People of the British Isles study enabled researchers to 'zoom in' to examine the genetic patterns in the UK. Subtle genetic differences between UK regions were teased out using sophisticated statistical methods that model how the population's genomes are made up of stretches of DNA., passed down the generations from ancestors. Many people in the UK feel a strong sense of regional identity, and it now appears that there may be a scientific bassis to this feeling.
A super-hydrophobic paint developed by scientists in UCL Chemistry could have great promise for commercial self-cleaning coatings. It can be applied to many surfaces and forms a tough surface that resists abrasion, and repels water extremely effectively. As the water forms a bead and rolls off the surface, it dislodges dust, dirt and bacteria or viruses that are present. In the example shown, a pattern has been drawn onto glass using the coating, and water is repelled from the painted areas and restricted to the untreated areas.
A UCL Institute of Education study explores the experiences of children and young people in residential special schools. The research, undertaken for the Office of the Children's Commissioner, showed the challenges professionals have in 'hearing' every child, particularly those with severe communication challenges. It also revealed further pressures, not only in spending sufficient time understanding the child, but also supporting plans necessary for his or her wellbeing. Children who took part in the project collaborated with an illustrator to produce a book of images and cartoons. My Life at School, to express their thoughts, feelings and opinions.
At the request of the senior judiciary in England and Wales, Scotland adn Northern Ireland, the UCL Judicial Institute has conducted the first ever survey of all serving salaried judges in the UK about their working lives. The results show that there are deep-seated concerns amongst most judges about the decline in working conditions in recent years. The survey found that 75% of judges have suffered a net loss of earning over the last five years, and 78% said that their pay and pension together do not adequately reflect the work they do. The study found that the overwhelming majority of judges at all elvels fo the judiciary would not encourage suitably qualified candidates to apply to join their ranks due to declining working conditions and income, and a very high proportion of judges are considering leaving the judiciary for the same reasons.
A cross-disciplinary team of students from UCL Life Sciences, Engineering and Physics is on a mission to make biology available to all: curious makers, ambitious students, innovative artists and cutting-edge scientists. The 30cm x 21cm x 5cm Bento Lab is the first complete personal laboratory, complete with a 12-samples PCR machine, a 12,000 rpm centrifuge and a gel electrophoresis unit with blue LED transillumination. Bento Lab aims to make all aspects of bio intuitive, empowering, convenient and fun. It is also intended to make the future of biology more inclusive, fair and democratic for everyone.
Chirp, the award-winning sonic data transfer app developed and launched at UCL, received investment pledges totalling over £750,000 from a 2015 Crowdcube fundraising call. This is the largest amount raised by any UK university spinout company via crowdfunding and the first for a UCL spinout. This included a pledge of £215,000 from London-based investment firm QuanQun Investment UK. The campaign also benefitted from an early match-funding pledge from the London Co-Investment Fund. Chirp is a highly flexible platform and can be used to share any data, from pictures to payments. The company behind Chirp pushed out a number of new product features including Chirp for Chrome. Chirp has gone on to establish itself as a Top 20 App in 58 App Stores worldwide.
There is a long tradition of using invented sentences to illustrate grammar in textbooks. The UCL Survey of English Usage, established in 1959, collected and analysed a number of corpora of spoken and written English and in 1998 was used as a basis for the Internet Grammar of English, which eventually accumulated over 3.7 million users. now, with support from UCL Business plc, UCL researchers from the UCL English have developed a popular app, called iGE. Since its launch the app has been downloaded by over 46,000 users, becoming a widely recommended learning tool for English, with a five-star rating on both the Apple and the Google Play stores. It is available in free and paid for versions, and accessible worldwide.
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