UCL Institute of Ophthalmology


Research Pathways in Advanced Therapeutics MSc

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of being able to apply state-of-the-art technologies to diseases that are difficult to manage, using testing strategies that aim to deliver new treatments to improve patients’ lives. The MSc Research Pathways in Advanced Therapeutics (MSc RPAT) is an intensive, preclinical science based course intended for those who have a bio/-medical degree background with an interest in furthering their knowledge and understanding of the development of novel therapies.

male scientist in a lab

The programme is also predicated on you being able shape your own area of interest from a suite of optional modules delivered through other UCL departments. The UCL/IoO location allows for students to place their learning on this programme in a context that explicitly consolidates research into translational practice and implementation. 

The period of study provides you with an intensive taught curriculum, which then drives into a term of independent research activity and lab based practice, ensuring that you will leave with meaningful bench skills and a defined lab based research project completed, maximising your capacity to develop your practice further through PhD study/Institutional research or in workplace Laboratory contexts. 

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://youtu.be/sv7oSoAc3iA



Teaching and Learning Methods

Module Teaching is primarily in the form of attended lectures and seminars across terms 1 and 2, in module teaching. Face to Face attended sessions form typically approx 18-20 hours per week in terms 1 and 2 and there is considerable independent reading and study expected through the module delivery period and in the periods of independent research.

Lectures allow for specific, in depth information to be provided;  
Seminars allow for interrogation and discussions of material covered to develop understanding
Group tutorials allow for more detailed appraisal of the learning journey and further consideration of the material covered in lectures and seminars
Lab time and guided practical sessions allow for you to evolve hands on technical skills, facility and processes for lab based research activity
Module consolidation seminars involving problem or case based presentations relating to module content and informal quizzes allow for knowledge and understanding to be tested, and for formative feedback to be given , in advance of summative assessment, alongside focused revision sessions.

Research in practice seminars allow for investigative, analytical, synthesis and data interrogation skills to be developed, prior to being put into practice in the dissertation module. A considerable number of student-led journal club sessions will develop the crucial skills of scientific scrutiny, peer-reviewing and abstract writing.
Digital learning/VLE you can expect to engage in some online activities to support independent study, which may include guided learning activities (online quizzes), attendance on digital platforms for tutorials, discussion and presentations; review video material such as lectures to consolidate understanding and supply written tasks via digital methods such as e-portfolios, and Turnitin. Some tutorials and research supervision may be conducted via online/distance methods.

Independent research and reflection forms a substantial proportion of the study hours, encompassing time spent preparing for taught module sessions and assessments, and planning, shaping and conducting the research for your projects, which may include self led lab time as well as library based research. You will systematically gather and analyse research data to draw conclusions, with the assistance of academic supervisors.
Term 3 encompasses the research project modules which are fundamentally reliant on you learning autonomously, but with academic supervision and pastoral support throughout.
Some variation of learning and teaching strategies  will result from the optional modules selected.


Graduates from this programme will have 

  • a systematic understanding of research and therapeutics, and a critical awareness of current problems and new insights informed by current research and practice at the forefront of the field
  • a comprehensive understanding of the techniques and processes which drive both research practice and the therapies themselves
  • a capacity to apply and generate new knowledge through their own research, with a practical integration of established techniques of research and enquiry in this area, and the potential to innovate new models for research in practice
  • the capacity to critically appraise existing research, methodologies and processes for developing therapies
  • the ability to formulate and evaluate complex decisions, solutions and communications of their findings
  • the autonomy to initiate, plan and actualise effective research projects independently 
  • the potential to advance their learning and skillset, and to undertake further research and practice in both subsequent study and employment 
  • effective written and verbal communication skills, which support information and data management 
  • a substantial individual research project, based on lab practice and experience
Programme Structure
The MSc  Research Pathways in Advanced Therapeutics (MSc RPAT) programme is structured through a blend of compulsory and optional modules.
This allows a substantial base of key skills, knowledge and understanding to be developed intensively, while also allowing specialist lines of enquiry to develop in respect to shaping individual areas of research. The diet of the optional modules from across UCL departments ensures a genuine translational approach is embedded and provides a focus on research driven identification of therapeutic problems to solve, through the range of current and emerging treatment innovations.
Study moves from compulsory taught modules in term one with a core skills and knowledge focus, to a diet of options in term two which allow you to construct your learning according to your evolving areas of research interest. This research interest is then focused and interrogated through a lab based research project based module in term 3 which will consolidate and expand your practical bench skills. 

The primary location of study at UCL’s IoO, provides a distinctive environment in which to learn. The institute’s record in innovating therapies through research to implementation is longstanding and globally recognised. The collaborative relationship between the institute and Moorfields Eye Hospital not only provides a coherent microcosm of the direct application of research into clinical use, it also affords a particular insight into bench to bedside research in practice. IoO’s relationships with global partner institutions afford you contextual understanding  of how research in this field is not only translational in application, but transnational in its engagement with global health challenges and solutions.
The Research Project, which forms the final assessment, develops your independent lab practice substantially; working from the science based identification of need into shaping and realising research that may inform therapeutic innovations in the future that could transform treatments and lives in the context of a global society.


Research in Practice (15 Credits)
Science of Diseases  (15 Credits)
Stem Cells and Eye Repair (15 Credits)
In Vivo models in Research (15 Credits)


The taught modules in Term 2 are delivered by other departments across the UCL campus, allowing you to meet and network with other PGT staff and students, thus extending your interactions with the wider UCL research community.

Advanced Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (15 Credits)
Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (15 Credits)
Immunodeficiency and Therapeutics (15 Credits)
Pharmacogenomics, Adverse Drug Reactions and Biomarkers (15 Credits)
Novel Therapies: From Concept to Clinical Translation (15 Credits)
Molecular Aspects of cell and gene therapy (15 Credits)
Pharmacology of Inflammation (15 Credits)
Pharmacology of Inflammation (Extended) (30 Credits)

Research Project and Lab Skills (60 Credits) 

The third term of this course is the most exciting as it involves undertaking a lab-based project related to a disease and/or novel therapies, closely supervised by research staff, to allow students to acquire fundamental lab skills required by most pre-clinical research centres. This project will be written up and can be used as evidence of research undertaken for future employees, whilst also extending your lab skills sets, this is useful when applying for future research posts.


Written exams – testing knowledge, and applying knowledge and understanding to case study/scenario analysis
Coursework essays – organisation of knowledge and understanding in order to develop cohesive argument
Written reports – demonstrating skills of reflection, evaluation, interpretation and conclusion 
Coursework Portfolio– arrangement of short form written analyses of practice, skills, research, needs, case, scenario, product and/or data sources, demonstrating breadth of engagement and understanding of principles
Presentations – selection, synthesis and communication of information for varied audience/ purpose, media (oral/poster etc), precis/concision, including both group and individual projects. These may be online or in person
Abstract /Grant Proposal writing- shaping theses and research into coherent summaries that demonstrate aim and purpose of research, convincing and evidenced argument and integrated contextual understanding of audience and objectives
Independent research projects/dissertations – creating/modelling science based hypotheses and research design, interrogating current practice,  literature reviews, practical analysis of planning, implementation, evaluation of results and conclusions. 
Research presentation and panel questions - communication, information, targeted, persuasive, professional interrogation of knowledge and understanding as demonstrated, capacity to take knowledge to new scenarios
Reflective evaluation – appraisal of personal practice and experience, evaluate projects and outcomes, identify personal learning objectives
Some variation of assessment tasks will result from the optional modules selected.

Entry Criteria

A UK life science/ bio/medical degree or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.(2:1). 

IELTS at level 6.5 or above, with no area less than 6 

Your personal statement should address the following areas:

•    Why you want to study at graduate level and what your objectives are
•    Why you want to study at UCL IOO (location and delivery)
•    What particularly attracts you to this programme of study (content and opportunities)
•    How your personal, academic and professional background has prepared and qualified you for the demands of this challenging academic environment
•    Where you would like to go professionally through and after this programme of study

Programme Director 

Professor Virginia Calder - Senior Lecturer in Ocular Biology at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.  

Professor Calder's main research interests involve understanding the immune mechanisms involved in chronic inflammatory eye diseases in order to improve therapeutic strategies.  The research group focuses on applying novel anti-inflammatory agents to the experimental model of uveitis and in several in vitro models of ocular allergy and developing of a range of experimental models of ocular allergy. Her vast teaching experience includes positions as MSc course Program Director, Director of UCL Masters modules, departmental tutor and undergraduate project supervisor.

Apply Now
Further information

Start date:
September 2022

1 year

Get in touch with us