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Developmental and Stem Cell Biology PhD

This programme offers a unique environment with one of the largest and strongest concentrations of high-quality developmental and stem cell biologists anywhere in the world. For more details please see our departmental website.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2017

Modes and duration

Full time: 3 or 4 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:


This PhD programme provides training at the interface between developmental and stem cell biology and can be taken in either three or four years. The four-year programme includes a first year with rotations in three laboratories; both include not only working in the lab, but also active, small-group training in key skills: good writing, experimental design, reviewing papers, computational skills and many modern techniques.

Research areas

  • Biological clocks in development, differentiation, disease and regeneration
  • 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
  • Induction, tissue interactions
  • Left-right asymmetry
  • Live imaging
  • Morphogenesis, tissue patterning
  • Neural development and neural cell biology
  • Regeneration and repair
  • Stem cell biology
  • Tissue engineering
  • Twins
More information can be found on the department website: Developmental and Stem Cell Biology PhD


Further information about funding and scholarships can be found on the Fees, Costs and Funding page.

Applications from self-funded candidates are welcome. Please note that there is no funding attached to this programme.

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, the Francis Crick Institute and the University of Cambridge, in Europe at L'Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and ETHZ in Switzerland, and across the world at Scripps Research Institute in San Diego. Some have taken up positions at Cancer Research UK or in auditing and publishing.

Recent career destinations for this degree

  • Postdoctoral Researcher, ETHZ Switzerland
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology
  • Medical Writer, Abacus International
  • Research Funding Manager, Cancer Research UK


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 recent students have been awarded the Beddington Medal.


UCL with its extended network of research institutes is located in the centre of London and is 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. Staff in the department (Cell & Developmental Biology) include the 2014 Nobel Prize winner, John O'Keefe.

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 through the extensive network of scientists who make up the UCL scientific community.

The four-year programme comprises three lab rotations and a taught component in the first year, providing the basis for an informed choice and an excellent platform for progression in the research project in years two to four. The three-year programme also contains small-group workshops to learn important skills but there are no rotations.

Department: Cell & Developmental Biology

Student / staff numbers › 44 staff
Staff/student numbers information correct as of 1 August 2017.

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
82% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

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 review

"UCL is a great university for research so it was always somewhere I wanted to consider for my PhD. I loved living in London during my degree and really enjoy residing in a city where there are so many great (and sometimes free!) things to do during my free time."

Sophie McLachlan

Developmental and Stem Cell Biology PhD
Student review

"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

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

This four year programme commences in September each year. The application deadline is usually early January of that year. For more information see our How to apply page.

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

Contact information

Page last modified on 17 August 2017 by UCL Student Recruitment Marketing


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