UCL Division of Biosciences



The Department of Cell and Developmental Biology (CDB) has a very active MPhil/PhD programme with fifty-two research students from all over the world including the UK, Europe, Egypt, Jordan, Thailand, Singapore, China, Chile, Saudi Arabia, India, Taiwan, Mexico and Australia.

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Students are regularly monitored by a small committee appointed among experts in the field, which stimulates interactions between laboratories, and excellent courses are offered on generic research and other skills (speaking, writing, imaging, etc.).


1. Programme Requirements 

2. Funding Options (link to new funding page)

3. How to Apply

4. Self Funded Phd Programmes

Requirements for all CDB PhD Programmes

To register for a PhD you will require one of the following:

- a first or upper second class UK Bachelor's degree in an appropriate subject, or an overseas qualification of equivalent standard from a recognised higher education institution
- a recognised Master's degree
If you are an overseas applicant you will also require evidence of proficiency in English. The standard of English expected is the 'good level'.

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How to Apply

You are welcome to apply and commence studies throughout the year.

Step 1: View the list of academic staff and study their research interests by visiting their web page and looking at some of their publications to decide whether you are interested in the research topics in that laboratory.

Step 2: E-mail your chosen supervisor(s) to discuss possible projects. This will also ensure that they have space for you in their laboratory and that they will guide you in your application.

Step 3: Complete an application form.  Select "Division of Biosciences" for the UCL Department you are applying to and "Research Degree: Cell and Developmental Biology" for Programme Title.

Self Funded PhD Programmes

Developmental and Stem Cell Biology PhD Programme

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.

The programme provides training at the interface between developmental and stem cell biology. It is available either as a 3 or 4 year programme. The 4 year version includes a first year with a taught component and rotations in 3 laboratories providing the basis for an informed choice and an excellent platform for progression in the research project in years 2-4. Both include active, small group training in key skills including good writing, experimental design, reviewing papers and many modern techniques as appropriate to the project

  • First year: 3 rotations of 3 months each in different laboratories and journal clubs overseen by all supervisors on the programme (4 year programme only).

  • Second year: thesis work starts in August/September of the first year. In the second year, an advanced modern microscopy course and an intensive workshop to develop writing and reviewing skills take place in parallel, with a small group of students.

  • Third year: continue thesis research work, complemented with experimental design workshops.

  • Fourth year: complete research project, write up thesis. Workshops on funding, career planning and other skills tailored to each student.

The 3 year version of the programme starts from the "second year" above.

Developmental and Stem Cell Biology PhD Programme

Please complete a UCL Graduate Student application form

Select "Division of Biosciences" for the UCL Department you are applying to, then for Programme Title:

  • 4 year programme "RRDDSCS4YR01 Research Degree: Developmental and Stem Cell Biology (4 years)"
  • 3 year programme "RRDDSCSING01 Research Degree: Developmental and Stem Cell Biology"

Please note re the application process:

  • For the 3 year programme, you can contact prospective supervisors and discuss a project before making your application.  For the 4 year programme, this isn't necessary.
  • When you submit your application, an e-mail request will automatically be sent to your referees providing them with a link to a secure website to upload a reference - please ensure that your referees add their references by the deadline. 
  • You will be required to upload your transcripts - if you are a current student and do not yet have a final transcript, please upload those from the years you have completed to date.  If you don't have a transcript, please upload a list of your marks in this space and forward the transcript to Admissions as soon as available.
  • If you are applying for a UCL Scholarship, please see the 'UCL Scholarships and Funded Programmes' box above as there are additional steps to complete.  For the 4 year programme, as this begins with lab rotations, the lay summary can be a brief outline of your research interests and there is no need to obtain a supervisor's reference as this will be added by the programme director if you are shortlisted. 


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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.

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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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UCL provides around 6000 beds in 26 halls. Our halls vary in size, facilities and history.

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Graduate Prospectus

Sections on networking, career destinations of our students and why study this degree

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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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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.

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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.


MPhil/PhD Handbook

This gives details of the support you will receive and the milestones you will pass during your PhD journey. CDB 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).