UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Prospective Students

The Ecological Brain DTP is committed to improving equality, diversity and inclusion in the postgraduate community in the broad field of the study of brain and behaviour in the real world. We carry the responsibility to ensure that students in the programme come from diverse backgrounds, are treated equally once they arrive and are accepted in the scientific community.

Applications for an October 2024 start are now being accepted. Deadline: 12th Jan 2024.

Programme Structure

Please note that in the academic year 2024-2025 we will only be running the 3-yr programme.

3-year programme
Students select a primary and one or more secondary PhD supervisors and write a short project proposal as part of their application to the programme. Students will be based in the home department of their primary supervisor.

Please note that for the 3-year programme you need to have a clear idea on your supervisor and research project at this stage and we encourage you to get in touch with prospective supervisors as soon as possible. A list of potential supervisors is available here and describes the Ecological Brain research carried out in different labs at UCL. If you are applying for a studentship, please note your supervisor has to be based within the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences (PALS).

Alternatively, applicants can choose one of the projects listed and discuss the project in further detail with the listed supervisor.

4-year programme - not accepting applications for 2024-2025


Programme criteria
• Applicants must hold, or be expected to achieve, a first or high upper second-class undergraduate honours degree (e.g. BA, BSc) or a Master’s degree (e.g. MRes, MSc), or the overseas equivalent, in a relevant subject. 

• All students whose first language is not English must be able to provide recent evidence that their spoken and written command of the English language is adequate for the programme according to UCL requirements. Applicants must achieve the level of ‘good’.

There are several funding routes and we welcome applications from all candidates (UK, EU, overseas) who are either self-funding or in receipt of an alternative funding source. 

The Ecological Brain DTP at UCL strives to be diverse and inclusive - a place where we can all be ourselves. We particularly encourage applications from people who identify as Black, Asian or from a Minority Ethnic background, who are underrepresented at the University.

Application forms and guidelines

All applications are for a 1st October 2024 start. All applicants must complete Sections A and B of the application form below and send to ecologicalbrain@ucl.ac.uk.  Files must be sent in a single email but attached as separate documents (i.e. do not attach your application as a single document).  Please ensure you read the checklist on Section A and attach all the requested documents to your application.

2024-25 EcoBrain-Application_Section-A_confidential

2024-25 EcoBrain-Application_Section-B

All applicants request references from 2 referees (referees may use either the form below OR send a standard letter reference) and request that they send their completed references to ecologicalbrain@ucl.ac.uk by the application deadline of 12th January 2024.  It is the responsibility of applicants to ensure that references are received on time. 


E-mail your application to ecologicalbrain@ucl.ac.uk 

If you are applying through additional funding routes, please ensure you have followed their application guidelines too.

Funding routes

There are several funding routes. You can apply to more than one of these (according to eligibility). For all funding routes, you will need to apply according to programme as outlined in our application form and guidelines.

Please note that application procedures and deadlines may differ - please click on the relevant links.

1. Fully-funded studentship for the 3-yr programme (full fees (home or international) and stipend. For 2023/24, the rate is £20,622 for full-time study). If you are applying for this studentship, please note your supervisor has to be based within the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences (PALS). If you are unsure, please contact our administrator. 1 studentship available.
How to apply: Submit Form A and Form B and two references as outlined above.

2. Ecological Study of Brain and Behaviour Pathway ESRC Studentships Main Competition – UBEL DTP – You can apply for the Ecological Study of Brain and Behaviour pathway in the UBEL DTP.
How to apply: Submit Form A and Form B and two references as outlined above AND apply on the UBEL website (deadline 15th January 2024).

3. Demonstratorship (career development studentships, covering tuition fees and enhanced stipend. This route requires the successful applicant to contribute to teaching onto specific undergraduate or postgraduate courses that the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences runs. This route is only available for applicants with ‘home fee’ status. The programme selection committee will nominate eligible candidates.
How to apply: Submit Form A and Form B and two references as outlined above. Eligible candidates will automatically be considered.

4. Research Excellence Scholarship (UCL-RES) – This prestigious scholarship aims to attract outstanding scholars to undertake doctoral research at UCL. 40 fully funded UCL Research Excellence Scholarships (RES) are on offer to exceptional applicants from any country.
How to apply: Submit Form A and Form B and two references as outlined above. You will also need to submit the documents to be considered for the scholarship as outlined on the UCL-RES website.

5. UCL Research Opportunity Scholarship (UCL-ROS) - supports BAME postgraduate research degree students.
How to apply: Submit Form A and Form B and two references as outlined above. You will also need to follow the additional instructions for the UCL-ROS.

6. Self/externally-funded. You can also apply with your own funding or funding that you may receive externally from your government or industry partners.
How to apply: Submit Form A and Form B and two references as outlined above.

Timeline for applying for the 2024-25 academic year

DEADLINE for online applications: 12th January 2024, 23:59 GMT

  • It is highly recommended to submit your application 3-4 days before the deadline to avoid delays;
  • Applications submitted after this date will not be considered.

INTERVIEW DATES: 22 and 23 January 2024

  • We aim to notify selected candidates shortly after the closing date;
  • At the interview you will be expected to answer some questions about your previous research experience and potential for an academic career;
  • The interview panel will include min. three members of the EcoBrain supervisors.


The results of the interviews will be announced informally via email within three weeks time. A more formal letter from UCL will be sent anytime afterwards. If accepted for admission, the programme will start 1st October 2024.

For more information please email us on ecologicalbrain@ucl.ac.uk

Possible PhD projects

You can submit your own research proposal. Alternatively, you can choose one of the PhD projects below that have been suggested by some EcoBrain supervisors. Please note that these are not the only projects available this year. Please contact the supervisor of your choice to discuss possible projects before submitting your application.

  • The universality or distinctiveness of musical processing across the sense (Dr. Velia Cardin);
  • How do individuals attain status in social hierarchies? (Dr. Pranjal Mehta);
  • Large language models to accelerate research in psychology and neuroscience (Prof. Brad Love);
  • Is social interaction the cradle of language development? (Prof. Gabriella Vigliocco)
  • The early home environment and children’s cognitive and socio-emotional outcomes across the childhood years: genetic nurture effects and environmental mediation (Prof. Eirini Flouri, IoE)

Click here to read more about the above projects.