UCL Division of Biosciences


Funded Programmes

In Structural and Molecular Biology (SMB), students generally apply to a ‘doctoral training programme’ (DTP) for a funded studentship, allowing them to select an appropriate supervisor. Some DTPs provide first-year ‘rotations’ to try out different labs and topics. In some cases, funded studentships are awarded to an individual supervisor, so the funding is only available in that particular laboratory.

The department offers both three and four year MPhil/PhD courses covering a variety of research projects. All graduate research students at UCL initially register for the MPhil degree. MPhil/PhD study can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis, and it is not necessary to have a Masters Degree prior to joining.

In general, students apply directly to a funding doctoral training programme (DTP). They do not need to contact potential supervisors at UCL until they are admitted by the DTP. However, if the prospective student is interested in a particular academic or lab, they should make contact to establish that the supervisor participates in the DTP. Supervisors may also have PhD funding allocated directly to them either by charities, iCASE studentships or industrial funding.

Funding bodies generally provide students with three or four years of funding, including fees (but usually only at the UK student, not the international student rate), research expenses, a stipend for living expenses, and often additional funds to attend conferences and training courses. International students may also be able to apply for ‘top-up’ funding if they obtain a DTP studentship. There are a very limited number of scholarships for international students and they may also be able to obtain funding from their home country. See Other Applicants.

Each year, around 10 students join the SMB PhD programme. Around half are on funded (DTP and iCASE) programmes, a quarter are self-funded and a quarter are funded by other sources (e.g. foreign governments, charities or external scholarships).

If you are not eligible for a doctoral training program, or have been unsuccessful in your application, other routes to obtain funding for a PhD position are described here.

Doctoral Training Programmes


ISMB PhD Studentships

PhD studentships are awarded on a competitive basis with applications being considered by a shortlisting and interview panel that is specific to each programme. Potential applicants may apply for all of the studentship opportunities but must follow the instructions for applicants described on each of the programme webpages.


UCL Birkbeck MRC DTP

Established in 2016, the UCL Birkbeck MRC DTP has funding up to 2024 for DTP studentships in one of four research themes. Three and four year options are available.


UCL Birkbeck MRC-iCASE

Industrial CASE PhDs are projects run in collaboration with an industrial partner.  The student applies to a specified project which has been created between an academic and industry partner. 


London Interdisciplinary Biosciences Consortium (LIDo)

The London Interdisciplinary Biosciences Consortium is the largest BBSRC funded Doctoral Training Partnership in the UK. This 4-year programme is aimed at graduates with a strong interest in multi-disciplinary research. There are opportunities to join via a DTP route incorporating 1st-year lab rotations, or via an iCASE route where students start immediately on their industrial collaborative project.

chemical equations on a blackboard

Funding for Disabled Students

Postgraduate research students who have a disability, mental health problem or specific learning difficulty and are being funded by one of the seven UK Research Councils can apply for Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs) to help with additional study-related requirements.


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