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MPhil/PhD Developmental Science

| Information About | Other Programmes in the Division


Information about Research in Developmental Science Research Department:

Research focuses on understanding typical and atypical human development using a variety of approaches, including developmental experimental psychology, neuropsychology, psycholinguistics, and cognitive neuroscience. Members of the Department make up a unique mix of developmental scientists and clinicians. Close links and collaborations exist with other groups studying Development in Research Departments within the Division of Psychology and Language Science, as well as with clinical Institutions such as the Institute of Child Health (ICH), Nuffield Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic (ENT), Institute of Ophthalmology, University College Hospital (UCH) and Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). Research facilities available to members of staff comprise state-of-the-art equipment for most behavioural research, facilities for neuroimaging (ERP, MRI), and facilities specifically designed for the study auditory and speech perception.

For more information about the Research Department, including a list of members of staff and their research interests, please see


General Information about Studying for an MPhil/PhD in our Division:

The MPhil/PhD programme begins in late September for full-time students. As a research student you will be working in an active and exciting research environment, and you will be part of a lively and friendly group of graduates. You will have access to a variety of state-of-the-art facilities with accompanying technical assistance, library facilities (including access to an extensive range of e-journals) and computing facilities.

The UCL regulations require that initial registration as a research student is for the MPhil degree. As part of the programme students take a range of courses designed to equip them for research. In particular, they take a selection of research methods courses appropriate for different backgrounds, designed to help them develop key research skills, such as the ability to evaluate critically the literature in an area or to perform advanced statistical analyses. In addition students are encouraged to attend the wide range of Divisional research seminars in and around UCL.

The full-time PhD typically lasts for 3 years, including the time registered as an MPhil student, and if the thesis is not submitted within this time then students may register as Completing Research Students for 1 additional year. The Division is assessed on how many PhD students finish on time.

A research student works with a staff member who is their principal supervisor, responsible for directing their research training, and a second supervisor. Other staff members, as part of a research group, may be closely involved with their work and students are encouraged to discuss their research widely with anyone having relevant experience. The Division of Psychology and Language Sciences contains expertise on a wide range of topics, so that students usually have little difficulty in finding someone who can give good advice. The Graduate School also offers a range of skills development courses for graduate students. Many full-time research students take some part in departmental teaching by giving tutorials and/or demonstrating in practical classes; payment is made for this work.

Each Research Department has a Graduate Tutor who is in charge of academic and pastoral arrangements for MPhil/PhD students. They can provide advice, support, and if necessary action, if any problems arise with respect to research, supervision or other academic problems.

Part-time study for a research degree

The Division offers the MPhil/PhD programme on a part-time basis, although the majority of students register on a full-time basis. The academic criteria and selection process are identical to those for the full-time PhD.

The programme of study for a part-time PhD may be completed in a minimum of 3 years; it typically lasts for 5 years, and if the thesis is not submitted within this time then students may register as Completing Research Students for 2 additional years. The Division is assessed on how many PhD students finish on time.

Candidates are expected to work no less than 50% of full-time on the PhD project for the duration of the PhD. Part-time PhD students need to demonstrate that they will be able to actively pursue the PhD project throughout the relevant period, and will have sufficient time and commitment to sustain the amount of research activity needed to complete their studies. For many part-time PhD students, the PhD project is linked to employment on a funded research project involving the supervisor.


Research Topics

Research Topics within the Department of Developmental Science
Auditory Processing and Language Skills
Lorna Halliday
Merle Mahon
Rachel Rees
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
Mike Clarke
Caroline Newton
Autism Spectrum Disorders: Social Communication, Attention & Perception
John Swettenham
Mike Clarke
Alex Perovic
Cognitive Development: Causal Reasoning & Perception
Anne Schlottman
John Swettenham
Deafness: Speech Processing, Language Development, Bilingualism
Merle Mahon
Rachel Rees
Mathematical Cognition and Language
Chris Donlan
John Swettenham
Reading and Language Skills – Developmental Disorders
Charles Hulme
Wendy Best
Lorna Halliday
Speech Discrimination
Caroline Newton
Rachel Rees
Speech and Language Impairment (SLI)
Wendy Best
Chris Donlan
Lorna Halliday
Visual Development & Developmental Disabilities
John Wattam-Bell
John Swettenham


Developmental Science Careers

Many students who complete a PhD in the department stay in academia, either going on to become postdoctoral researchers or research assistants, and ultimately lecturers. Some go on to further training in fields such as clinical psychology, educational psychology, consultancy or applied research. A PhD degree taken here is recognised both nationally and internationally as a qualification of the highest status.


Funding and Scholarship Opportunities

To be admitted as a research student, applicants usually obtain a source of funding from a recognised funding body. Self-funded students will only be admitted on a full-time basis if they can provide evidence that they will have sufficient funds to support themselves for a minimum of three years.


UCL has been selected as a Doctoral Training Centre by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Division can offer a small number of ESRC funded PhD Studentships. These are available to UK/EU students only.

The Division also awards a number of Demonstratorships/Teaching Assistantships. These involve a set number of hours teaching but also allow time for MPhil/PhD study. These awards include a stipend and tuition fees for MPhil/PhD. They are open to UK/EU and International Students.

UCL also awards a small number of Graduate School Research Scholarships on a competitive basis. Students must be first nominated by the Research Department in order to apply. These Scholarships are open to UK/EU or Oversees students (full stipend, or fees only).

Other sources of funding include the UCL Grand Challenges studentship programme, The Crucible Scholarship, The Stiftung Foundation, the 4 year Welcome Scholarship. Prospective supervisors may also be able to suggests sources of funding related to their specific topic of interest.

Individual members of staff may sometimes be able to support students with the help of research funds that they have obtained from the Research Councils or from various charities or other funding bodies. In this latter case, students usually enrol on a part-time basis.

Overseas Students

There are several sources of funding available specifically for overseas students to undertake graduate training in the UK. Some funding is awarded on a competitive basis by UCL to students nominated by their Departments (e.g. UCL Graduate School Scholarships). Other sources of funding require students to apply independently, (e.g. British Council, Commonwealth, Chevening, WHO and NATO Scholarships, Government or Employers' Schemes). It is important to make early enquiries about these independent schemes (up to a year in advance).

Scholarship Opportunities

The following Research Councils have in the past funded research students in Developmental Science: ESRC, MRC. For these and other scholarship opportunities for UCL research degree programmes, please select the link below:

Admin contacts

PhD Administrator: Antonietta Esposito