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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 science. Graduating students emerge well rounded and trained with outstanding skills that are internationally recognised, and poised to take up posts in leading groups around the world.

Key Information

Modes and duration

  • Full-time: 3 years
  • Part-time: 5 years

Programme start date

September 2016

Tuition Fees (2016/17)

£4,770 (FT) £2,385 (PT)
£22,180 (FT) £11,090 (PT)

Application dates

Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit 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.
Fees note: All fees quoted are for new students only for 2016 entry. Fees for subsequent years are subject to increase by approximately 3-5%.

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 in the department 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
  • Biological clocks/sleep
  • Calcium signalling
  • Cell fate determination and pattern formation
  • 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 imaging
  • Mitochondrial biology
  • Neural development and neural cell biology
  • Neuroaesthetics
  • Neurodegenerative disease
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Pain
  • Regeneration and repair
  • Stem cell biology.


Across the division 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 the host laboratory of their PhD directly.

Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed (where available) below. 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, e.g. in the UK at UCL, King’s College London and the University of Oxford, in Europe at the University of Verona and the University of Zurich, and across the world at the University of Connecticut, the Mount Sinai Medical School in New York, Rutgers University, the University of Nebraska and the MIND Institute, University of California at Davies. Some have continued medical/other studies or taken up teaching, managerial and science positions in hospitals, medical communications and drug development companies.

Top career destinations for this degree

  • Postdoctoral Researcher, Rutgers University
  • Lecturer, University of Zurich
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, MIND Institute, University of California at Davies
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Connecticut
  • Portfolio Manager, EPSRC


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.


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 Neuroscience Centre. 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

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 extraordinary open and collaborative scientific community. Access to expert help in almost any conceivable area is available in the extensive network of scientists that make 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.

Student / staff ratios › 88 staff including 45 postdocs › 75 research students

Department: Cell & Developmental Biology

Degree reviews

Student review

"I became interested in developmental biology during my BSc, and wanted to pursue this area of research in a PhD (and hopefully a career!). Within the field, the department is a major centre of research, and the four-year PhD studentship programme seemed perfect for what I wanted to do. I contacted my current supervisor within the department, and she encouraged me to apply."

Elizabeth Ward

Cell and Developmental Biology PhD
Staff review

"The environment at UCL for research in my field (neuroscience) is unparalleled. Across UCL, there is not only tremendous breadth in neuroscience (molecular, cellular, systems, cognitive, computational), but also amazing depth. UCL's neuroscience community is so large and so diverse that even after 10 years at UCL I am still discovering colleagues here whose work is somehow directly relevant to my own."

Dr Jennifer Linden

I supervise PhD and MSc students from the Ear Institute and also from the departments of Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology; Cell and Developmental Biology; Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences; and the Institute of Ophthalmology. I also teach topics related to hearing on MSc and BSc modules in many of these departments.
Reader in Neuroscience

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

Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit 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.

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

Contact Information


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  • Receive notice of graduate open days, events and more
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