UCL Division of Biosciences



The department has a thriving postgraduate student community, with over 70 people undertaking research for a PhD degree. Our students come from all around the world to join our department. Their ground-breaking research covers a wide range of topics within the fields of Genetics, Evolution, and Environment.

Each PhD student joins a research group headed by a member of the Academic Staff, who serves as their Primary Supervisor. A research group might comprise other postgraduate and undergraduate research students, technicians, postdoctoral researchers, and research fellows, all of whom interact and work closely together on their research. PhD students also form broader academic connections through their Secondary and Tertiary supervisors, by attending GEE research seminars, by presenting at the Friday student/postdoc seminar series and the annual Graduate Symposium, by contributing to undergraduate teaching, and by participating in social events like the Monday departmental coffee meetings. GEE provides a friendly collegiate environment, supporting all its members, and nurturing outstanding research.  

Funding your PhD

The chart on the right shows that our PhD students are funded in many different ways. The costs of a PhD include the tuition fees that UCL charges, the costs of the research itself, and the costs of living in London. Some funding sources, such the UKRI doctoral training programs (DTPs), cover all these costs; others do not, and will need to be supplemented by other sources. We will always try to help prospective students find and access funding sources.  


phd funding sources graph
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A majority of our PhD students are fully-funded for four years by Doctoral Training Programmes (DTPs) or Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) research councils, like NERC and BBSRC.

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Scholarships Finder

We have several students in receipt of UCL scholarships, including the prestigious Graduate Research Scholarship (GRS) and Overseas Research Scholarship (ORS), which provide full funding. Outstanding students are strongly encouraged to contact potential supervisors in research areas that interest them.

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All UCL Funding Schemes

There are many possible sources of financial support for PhD students. This page gives a full description of funding for current and prospective PhD students at UCL.

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UK Doctoral Loan Scheme

A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course, such as a PhD.

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How much does a PhD cost?

Many of our students have independent funding, such as foreign government schemes, private support, small scholarships, and savings. Make sure you have enough to cover the 3 or 4 years a PhD takes.

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Find a PhD Supervisor

If you already have funding in place or in preparation, the next step is to contact potential supervisors whose work interests you to design a project which you can propose on your UCL application form.

Visit the Genetics, Evolution and Environment MPhil/PhD Prospectus Page

Meet our 2021 PhD students and hear about their research

Because of COVID-19, we’re having to communicate a lot more through computer screens. Our PhD students have been experimenting with this medium to make short videos about their research experiences. We first watched and discussed these movies in small groups, then each group voted on their favourite. These favourites each won £50 and were presented in a “Film Festival” online on the 28th August 2021, which was open to all in GEE. The audience voted for their favourite, which won £250, with two runners up each winning £150. 

The most remarkable thing about these films was the range of entertaining styles and clever techniques that our students devised. Many were genuinely thrilling and funny, and they show that there are myriad ways to communicate science effectively. We see this variety even among the three main prize winners. Our overall winner, Zikmund Bartonicek, employs a conventional documentary style, but uses surprising props, high-speed jaunts through the Natural History Museum, and Fleabag-style deadpans to the camera to enliven his subject. Carolyn Thompson uses a cheerful magazine style presentation, bringing together different media to draw a vibrant picture of her professional research world. And Aaron Halpern, our resident surrealist, demonstrates the use of metaphor in science by presenting his work on the origin of the genetic code from his bathtub.

Congratulations to these prizewinners, to the £50 winners of the first round (Sasha Bradshaw, Hugh Carter, Shawn Dove, Ashleigh Marshall, Santiago Martínez, and Emily Watt), and to all who contributed their fabulous videos and wonderful ideas to this event.

If you missed out, you can watch some of the videos on a playlist on our public UCL Life Sciences Youtube channel. If you would like your video featured in either of these places, please let us know. Here are a few highlights:

Sasha Bradshaw - Meiotic drive in the stalk eyed fly

Carolyn Thompson - Investigating the human-gibbon interface

Santiago Martinez Balvanera - Listen

What’s it like to do a PhD?

Instead of learning things that are already well known, PhD students discover things that were previously unknown. So a PhD is less structured and less predictable than other academic qualifications. PhD students are often the most active and productive people in their research group, and we value them highly.

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PhD projects

Looking at the projects that our students have done can inspire you and help you find suitable supervisors for your PhD project.

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Postgraduate Symposium

This is an annual event run by GEE that showcases the current research being undertaken by our postgraduate students.

MPhil/PhD Handbook

This gives details of the support you will receive and the milestones you will pass during your PhD journey. GEE Thesis Committees comprise your primary supervisor, your secondary supervisor, and your tertiary supervisor, who usually acts as the committee chair. Each student upgrades from MPhil to PhD status after 12-18 months if approved by their Committee, and must submit their thesis after 3-4 years (5 years if part-time).

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UCL Doctoral Skills Development Programme

The UCL Doctoral Skills Development Programme (UCL DocSkills) is designed to help you to expand your research and transferable skills in order to support your research, professional development and employability.

Career development

These are the things we do to assist our PhD students with career opportunities and what some of our alumni have gone on to do.

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Diversity and inclusion

PhD students are part of a friendly, fair, and respectful GEE community. GEE embraces diversity and inclusion.


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