Home Menu


Cell and Developmental Biology MPhil/PhD

Graduate students will work with internationally renowned mentors and will be immersed in research at the cutting-edge of basic and biomedical science. Students emerge well trained and rounded with outstanding skills that are internationally recognised, poised to take up posts in leading groups around the world.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2017

Modes and duration

Full time: 3 years
Part time: 5 years

Tuition fees (2017/18)

£4,915 (FT) £2,455 (PT)
£22,850 (FT) £11,420 (PT)

Application dates

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Current Students website.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor’s degree in an appropriate subject or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard, or a recognised Master’s degree in an appropriate subject.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:


The world-leading research groups of the department (Professor John O’Keefe was awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize) study biological questions ranging from molecule to man. These are listed below and are remarkable in their breadth and depth, from fundamental aspects of cell biology through to behaviour, and from key questions in biology to understanding mechanisms of human disease.

Research areas

  • Affective disorders
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Bioinformatics and computational biology
  • Biological clocks/sleep
  • Calcium signalling
  • Cell migration
  • Cell signalling and signal transduction mechanisms
  • Early development (e.g. fertilisation, gastrulation, embryonic induction)
  • Evolution and development
  • Intracellular movements: endocytosis, exocytosis, RNA, protein, lipid and organelle traffic
  • Learning, memory and long-term change in the nervous system
  • Left-right asymmetry
  • Live cell imaging
  • Mitochondrial biology
  • Neural crest migration and differentiation
  • Neural development and neural cell biology
  • Neuroaesthetics
  • Neurodegenerative disease
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Pain
  • Regeneration and repair
  • Stem cell biology
  • Systems and synthetic biology.
More information can be found on the department website: Cell and Developmental Biology MPhil/PhD


Across the Division of Life & Medical Sciences there is a wealth of graduate programmes that will bring students into the department. Students interested in studying for a PhD may approach academic staff individually, as there are a variety of intradepartmental opportunities or opportunities to write grant applications for PhD funding.

Students may also apply for any of the other programmes listed on our webpage which are suitable for their skills and interests. These include four-year programmes where the first year is spent taking taught courses or in rotations through several different laboratories before deciding on a final PhD laboratory and project, and there are also several three-year programmes, where students will enter their PhD host department directly.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


Many of our recent graduates have taken up postdoctoral positions, for example in the UK at UCL and King’s College London; in Europe at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre; and across the world at the University of Connecticut, Rutgers University, the University of Nebraska and the Agency of Science, Technology and Research in Singapore. Some graduates have taken up teaching, managerial and science positions in hospitals, medical communications and drug development companies, while others have become principal investigators in Cambridge and New York and at UCL.

Top career destinations for this degree

  • Postdoctoral Researcher, UC Davis MIND Institute
  • Portfolio Manager, EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)
  • Postdoctoral Associate, Rutgers University
  • Research Associate, King's College London
  • Chief Biomedical Scientist, Maidstone Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust


UCL is an internationally recognised and respected institution. A graduate degree from UCL opens up numerous national and international work opportunities. Most of our graduate students pursue very successful careers in science, the media and medicine. Two of our recent students have been awarded the Beddington Medal.


UCL and its extended network of research institutes are located in the centre of London and are surrounded by numerous other research institutions, including the new Francis Crick Institute and the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour. Students are encouraged to meet and collaborate extensively with members of these institutions. Regular seminars and training courses encourage interaction across London, the UK and Europe. All students regularly attend international conferences, workshops and retreats, providing opportunities for networking with colleagues and potential future employers.

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2012–2014 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The groups at UCL are world-leading, generating seminal contributions to their fields of study. Students working in the laboratories are welcomed into vibrant groups of enthusiasts, exposed to a wealth of expertise in an extraordinarily open and collaborative scientific community. Access to expert help in almost any conceivable area is available through the extensive network of scientists that makes up the UCL scientific community.

Within the departments there are regular laboratory meetings, project presentations, journal clubs, student-led symposia - and other opportunities to hone presentation skills and training, extended through regular seminars from experts from around the world - and locally organised international symposia.

Department: Cell & Developmental Biology

Student / staff numbers › 44 staff including 57 postdocs › 72 research students

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Cell & Developmental Biology

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.

What our students and staff say

Student view

"The state-of-the-art imaging facilities at UCL particularly impressed me. The three short rotation projects at the start of my PhD were really valuable to me, as this enabled me to try out different projects and work with three different supervisors in a range of laboratory environments. This allowed me to make an informed choice when settling on my final PhD project, which was useful as my final choice ended up being quite different from what I think I might have initially chosen on paper!"

Rachel Bonnington

Cell and Developmental Biology PhD, Developmental and Stem Cell Biology PhD
Staff view

"I was attracted to UCL because of the excellent scientific research in different Life and Medical Sciences departments. My own research focuses on the glial cells of the nervous system and my present interest is on how Schwann cells respond to nerve injury by reprogramming themselves to provide a favourable environment for nerve (axonal) regeneration."

Professor Rhona Mirsky

Cell and Developmental Biology MPhil/PhD

Application and next steps


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

Application deadlines

Research degrees may start at any time of the year, but typically start in September. Deadlines and start dates can be dictated by funding arrangements for studentships and scholarships, so please check these on the department’s website before submitting your application. In most cases you should identify and contact potential supervisors before making your application. For more information see our How to apply page.

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

Contact information


  • Register interest in your chosen subjects
  • Receive notice of graduate open days, events and more
Register now

Learning and living

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.

  • World-leading reputation
  • Extensive connections that benefit your study and career
  • The best and brightest staff and students from over 150 countries
Find out more