MBPhD Programme


Prospective students

Course Summary

The UCL MBPhD Programme is looking for individuals with commitment, determination, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. Departments and supervisors are extremely keen to recruit MBPhD students, who have a reputation for brains and dedication.

The MBPhD Programme at UCL covers the period of UCL MBBS Years 4, 5 and 6 and a UCL 3-year PhD.  The PhD is specifically integrated between the first and latter two years of clinical training as an introduction to clinical medicine is essential, as it focusses thoughts on potential translational benefits.

  • Students enter the clinical component of the programme (MBBS Year 4: Integrated Clinical Care) with their contemporaries, having already completed MBBS Years 1 and 2 (or equivalent) and an iBSc (or appropriate BSc, with a first or upper second class honours) at UCL, or another UK Medical School.
  • After successful completion of MBBS Year 4, MBPhD students divert to full-time research studies (PhD) for a period of three years.
  • During the research component, a regular clinical teaching programme keeps students’ clinical skills and knowledge up-to-date.  
  • Re-entry into the MBBS Years 5 & 6 is contingent on satisfactory progress and submission of the PhD thesis. 
  • The PhD is undertaken within UCL and is normally within one of the Departments of the School of Life & Medical Sciences, which includes many world class institutes including the Institute of Child Health, the Institute of Neurology at Queen Square and the Institute of Ophthalmology at Moorfields.  Students can also choose projects at the Francis Crick Institute and the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) City of London (CoL) Centre.
  • Students graduate with a UCL MBBS and UCL PhD.





The programme is only available to students who are currently undertaking a full 5 years' Primary Medical Qualification (MBBS, MBChB or equivalent) at a UK Medical School.








At the point of entry, all successful applicants:

  • will have completed the first two years of their primary medical qualification and;
  • will have achieved an upper second or first class honours degree (BSc/iBSc) and;
  • must be eligible to continue at their own Medical School

All applicants must pass MBBS Year 4 at UCL before embarking on the MBPhD. Transfer students will need to transfer to UCL in order to do Year 4 MBBS before starting the MBPhD, including applicants who have already completed Year 4 equivalent at their current university.

All external applicants must meet UCL Medical School's entry requirements

Please note that this list of criteria is not exhaustive – please contact the Programme Administrator for further information (carolyn.cohen@ucl.ac.uk)

Important Dates for Admission


This schedule is for UCL students currently in MBBS Year 4, applying early 2021 for September 2021 entry, and for UCL STUDENTS currently in Year 3 and external TRANSFER stuDENTS, applying early 2022 for September 2022 entry


OPEN DAY:3 December 2020 - for further information please contact MBPhD Administration
INTERVIEWS:18 and 19 March 2021
START DATE:September 2021 or September 2022


The Francis Crick Institute PhD programme.

UCL MBBS students wishing to consider a PhD at the Francis Crick Institute (as part of the MBPhD programme) should ensure they apply to transfer to the MBPhD programme during their iBSc year as the Crick interviews take place annually in January.



Students should apply in the year prior to starting MBBS (or equivalent) Year 4; for most, this will be during their Intercalated BSc. UCL students may also applying during MBBS Year 4.

How To Apply

  1. The application pack can be downloaded from the section Application Pack, below. 
  2. Applications must be signed and include:
  3. i)  a copy of the application form,
    ii)  a copy of curriculum vitae,
    iii) references from iBSc/BSc project supervisor / programme lead and pre-clinical / personal tutor or supervisor. You may supply a third reference from another tutor who is able to comment on your abilities and suitability for the programme.
  4. Applications submitted without the enclosures will be returned to the candidate; references sent under separate cover will be permitted though we would strongly encourage applicants to submit references to us themselves.
  5. Submit the complete application including references and enclosures - application deadline 17 February 2021 - by email to carolyn.cohen@ucl.ac.uk 


  • Applications must include two references: one from your iBSc/BSc project supervisor or programme lead and one from pre-clinical tutor or supervisor. 
  • One additional reference of your choice may be included with your application if this will appropriately support your application. The additional referee may be a person who can comment on your laboratory skills/practical research ability if this was not the nature of your BSc. Alternatively, the referee maybe a person who can comment on any additional research that you may have undertaken that may be relevant or more recent for the interview panel to consider

  • Referees may submit references directly to carolyn.cohen@ucl.ac.uk, but they must be submitted by the closing date. If references are being submitted directly, applicants must indicate this on the application form, otherwise it will be deemed that the applicant has failed to include them and the application is incomplete.


  • Current UCL students have the option of applying during MBBS Year 4 (Integrated Clinical Care) to commence their PhD in September of the next academic year (ie a Year 4 student in 2020-21 may apply to begin the PhD in Sep 2021).  These students will not be eligible to apply for a PhD at the Francis Crick Institute.  Alternatively they may apply during their MBBS Year 3 (IBSc) to commence their PhD in September of the following academic year (ie a Year 3 student in 2020-21 may apply to begin the PhD in Sep 2022).


  • External students need to apply for the UCL MBPhD programme in their third year, normally the IBSc year. If successful in their application to the MBPhD programme, they would transfer to UCL to commence MBBS Year 4, would embark on the MBPhD the following September, and on succesful completion of their PhD would then complete MBBS Years 5 and 6 at UCL.
  • The closing date for applications is the same as for current UCL students.
Application Pack

Submit complete application and all enclosures (including references) to: carolyn.cohen@ucl.ac.uk

Applications will be acknowledged via email within 3 working days of receipt.



Funding for Year 4 of the MBBS programme is through the Student Loans Company (SLC).  Funding for Years 5 and 6 of the MBBS programme is via the Government funding mechanisms (currently NHS Student Bursary) in place at the point at which students return to the MBBS. Applications to the SLC and NHS Bursary Office are the responsibility of each student and neither UCL nor the Medical School can intervene.  The MBPhD programme administration can provide documentation confirming that the MBPhD is offered as a single integrated degree programme and setting out the details of the periods of MBBS and PhD registration, but will be required to confirm the award date of the PhD as prior to, or within, the MBBS programme of study.

Project supervisors and MBPhD Programme Tutors will be able to help students identify potential sources of funding, external or internal, to apply for, once a project has been identified and agreed.  In the past, PhDs have been funded from a range of sources including University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, The Middlesex Hospital and Medical School General Charitable Trust, The Astor Foundation, CRUK, The Rosetrees Trust, The London Centre for Nanotechnology, and The International Journal of Experimental Medicine, AstraZeneca, UCL Division of Medicine, the St Peter's Trust for Kidney, Bladder and Prostate Research, the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and the Royal Free Charitable Trust. Successful applicants can also apply for studentships at the Francis Crick Institute and other PhDs have been supported by grants directly made to the supervisors.

At the moment, funding for PhD projects cannot be guaranteed but this has not been a limiting factor in the past. Successful applicants will be directed to suitable funding; we do not expect students to look at funding options prior to applying for a place on the MBPhD programme. 

Studentship Budgets

Successful applications for funding will normally result in a studentship consisting of the following.  The maximum stipend to be paid to research students at UCL is the Wellcome Trust stipend rate:

  • Studentships are for 3 years
  • Include a minimum stipend of approximately £17,631 (this is the provisional rate for 2021/22)
  • Include UCL home level fees
  • Include a contribution to laboratory costs 

The exact amount for both the stipend and the laboratory costs varies according to the funding body. The department in which the student is registered pays for the student's home level fees; overseas students will need to find an alternative source of funding to cover the difference between home and overseas fees, such as the Overseas Research Scholarship.

Students can also apply for a wide range of additional funding via the UCL Scholarships & Funding office

Student Finance England Doctoral Loan

A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a PhD. You can borrow up to £26,445 for your whole course for students starting after August 2020 (this amount is correct at the time of publication - September 2019).  You need to apply within 9 months of the first day of the last academic year of the course.  Full information on the loan can be found on the UK Government’s Doctoral Loan webpage and on UCL’s funding webpage

Francis Crick Institute


Applicants who are successful in gaining entry on to the UCL MBPhD programme are invited to consider carrying out their PhD research at the Francis Crick Institute.
Interested applicants can find out more about this PhD programmes 

Applications for Francis Crick Institute PhD positions are open from early October to mid-November, with interviews in late January, and from mid-February to mid-March, with interviews in mid-May.

Applicants who would like to be considered for a Crick studentship should apply to the MBPhD programme prior to commencing MBBS Year 4.

CRUK CoL Centre


The CoL Centre is a unique interdisciplinary and collaborative network formed of four of the central London CRUK cancer centres: University College London, King’s College London, Barts / Queen Mary University of London and The Francis Crick Institute. The centre was established to generate novel innovative biological therapies, diagnostics and stratification strategies in addition to providing a clinical and translational pipeline for cancer discovery science. Its scientists are carrying out a broad range of cancer-focussed research programmes.

Applicants who are successful in gaining entry onto the UCL MBPhD programme are invited to consider carrying out their PhD with supervisors based in the CRUK CoL Centre.
For more information on the Centre’s research, potential project areas, and further details on CRUK CoL Centre MBPhD studentships please visit the CRUK CoL Centre MBPhD pages.

Applicants who would like to be considered for a CRUK CoL Centre studentship must ensure they apply to the UCL MBPhD programme and indicate this interest on the application form.


Open Day: 3 December 2020

We are holding an online MBPhD Recruitment Event on Thursday 3rd December from 11:00 - 13:00, on MS Teams.  This is an opportunity for prospective students to interact with members of Faculty and current students in order to find out about the programme and what life is like as a UCL MBPhD student.
After an introduction from the Programme Lead, Prof Burns, there will be short talks from UCL Medical School on the external transfer process, the Francis Crick Institute, as well as from former students. Following the talks there will be the opportunity to ask questions.

This event is suitable for:

  • UCL students currently in MBBS Year 4 who are considering applying for 2021 entry
  • UCL students currently in MBBS Year 3 (IBSc) who are considering applying for 2022 entry
  • UCL students currently in MBBS Years 1 and 2 who wish to get a feel for the programme with a view to applying in the future
  • External students in MBBS Year 3 (IBSc)

Talks include: 

Prof Áine Burns (UCL MBPhD Programme Lead)
Why do a PhD now; finding a PhD; the interview process; clinical opportunities
Dr Sarah Bennett (UCL MBBS Admissions Tutor)
The process of transferring to UCL MBBS Year 4 (for external students)
Dr Sally Leevers (Director of Academic Training [Junior Researchers], Francis Crick Institute)
The Francis Crick Institute - science and application
Annabelle Scott (Postgraduate Training Coordinator, UCL Cancer Institute)
The City of London Centre
Prof Bart Hoogenboom (Professor of Biophysics)
Research in physical sciences/ nanotechnology
Dr Adam Levine (NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer in Histopathology and former MBPhD student) 
Life after the MBPhD
Dhruva Biswas (UCL MBPhD student 2016/17 - 2019/20)
Life as an MBPhD student

The event is online on MS Teams: click here to attend. Alternatively, please contact the MBPhD Programme Administrator

  • I haven't yet found a supervisor or a specific project that I would like to do for my PhD. Will this affect my application?
    • It doesn't matter if you don't have a supervisor or a project at the time of application. We will give you guidance on this once you have been accepted onto the programme, and help you to refine any broad areas of interest.
  • Am I restricted in my area of research?
    • The Division of Medicine itself offers a huge range of opportunities and we encourage our students to look at these.  We currently have students working in very diverse areas of research across different departments and faculties at UCL.
  • How long is the MBPhD?
    • You start the PhD research in the September following completion of MBBS Year 4.  You are expected to complete the PhD in three academic years, and submit prior starting MBBS Year 5.  For example, if you finish and pass Year 4 in the summer of 2020, you will start the PhD in September 2020, submit by the summer of 2023, and return to Year 5 in September 2023.  An additional fourth year of research (known as CRS) is only permitted in exceptional circumstances.