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Structural and Molecular Biology MPhil/PhD

The Research Department of Structural and Molecular Biology (SMB) conducts world-class research in the areas of modern biology, biotechnology and medicine, while providing a vibrant and stimulating interdisciplinary postgraduate training and environment.

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 Bachelor's degree in biochemistry, cell biology, chemical biology, molecular biology, physics, chemistry or similar subjects from a UK university, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Our studentship places are limited and highly sought after; previous research experience would provide a competitive edge to prospective candidates.

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 UCL Research Department of Structural and Molecular Biology, within the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, provides a leading-edge research environment, superb access to technical resources, and world-recognised research expertise. We use state-of-the-art facilities in X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, cryo-electron microscopy, imaging, biophysical and biochemical analysis, protein chemistry, molecular and cell biology. Our research staff are world leaders in areas such as bacterial secretion, ageing, signal transduction, protein folding, drug metabolism and cellular protein trafficking. In a caring, encouraging and well-supported mentoring environment we challenge every student to excel in their research and to develop additional skills enhancing their employment prospects. Regular guest lectures, a bi-annual retreat and international research symposia provide unique networking opportunities for our postgraduate students

Research areas

The majority of research projects undertaken by our postgraduate students have a strong multi-disciplinary component. However, research activities within the department could be broadly grouped into the following research areas:
  • Bioinformatics
  • Molecular cell biology and metabolism
  • Molecular microbiology
  • Structural biology and molecular biophysics.
More information can be found on the department website: Structural and Molecular Biology MPhil/PhD


Students interested in carrying out postgraduate research under the mentorship of an SMB member of staff could gain funding and scholarships through several available routes. There are four-year PhD programmes funded by the Wellcome Trust, MRC, BBSRC and NERC as well as BBSRC CASE (industrial collaboration) three- and four-year studentships. There may also be funding opportunities through individual research grants as well as through other programmes such as those offered by CoMPLEX.

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


Our recent graduates have become researchers at leading UK universities and research centres including Cambridge, Oxford, UCL, King's College London, University of Manchester, the Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK; and highly reputable international academic institutions such as Cornell University, Yale, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and University of the Western Cape. Others have initiated their careers by employment in the civil service and National Health Service or they have found senior roles in industry with companies such as Novartis, Cellzoe and Genzyme.

Top career destinations for this degree

  • Research Scientist, Algenuity
  • Research Associate in Microbiology, Imperial College London
  • Assistant Professor, Sultan Qaboos University
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Oxford
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, The Roslin Institute


We place strong emphasis on high-quality student training, interdisciplinary approaches to research, and on providing students with a considerable range of opportunities to develop transferable skills. Our students are highly successful in obtaining research positions in academia and industry due to the range of technical expertise that they develop, as well as their deep understanding of fundamental biological processes. They are also successful in gaining positions in other professions where, in addition to a scientific background, our students are able to offer presentational, communication, numerical and data analysis skills (e.g. clinical trials, knowledge transfer and teaching).


SMB provides a truly international environment as many of our academic and research staff have joined UCL following a career path through other world-recognised research centres. Projects frequently include collaboration with researchers in the UK and abroad and students are strongly encouraged to present their work at UK and international research conferences. We regularly host lectures by eminent scientists and students are able to interact with guest speakers over an informal lunch. ISMB research retreats and research symposia provide another opportunity for students to network and establish important contacts of importance for their future research and career development.

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 department pursues its research aims through high-level external research funding, excellent new facilities, up-to-date equipment and state-of-the-art technologies, coupled with the recruitment of high-calibre staff. SMB maintains industrial contacts, and fosters close links within the extensive UCL and Bloomsbury scientific community. Furthermore, we have strong collaborations with investigators from other prestigious UK and international institutions.

Our postgraduate students benefit from the links that SMB has as a member of the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology (ISMB), which has collaborations with the Department of Biological Sciences at Birkbeck, University of London and the UCL Centre for Chemical Biology.

Department: Structural & Molecular Biology

Student / staff numbers › 40 staff including 38 postdocs › 70 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: Structural & Molecular 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.

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.

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Contact information


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