UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


MPhil/PhD Developmental Neuroscience and Mental Health

The UCL–Yale Doctoral Training Programme in Developmental Neuroscience and Mental Health is a unique graduate program for exceptional students in the field of developmental psychology, neuroscience, and mental health. It brings together two of the world’s leading research universities, with an outstanding track record of research across these domains (both UCL and Yale are consistently ranked in  the top 10 universities world-wide in psychology) in partnership with the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families (AFC), a leading UK child mental health charity and the Child Study Centre at Yale. The focus of this fully-funded four-year international PhD programme on developmental psychopathology drawing on multidisciplinary perspectives, with a specific emphasis on neuroscience. Students spend their first two years in London, based at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and UCL and years 3 and 4 at Yale University in New Haven, USA.

Key information

Programme starts
September 2021

Modes and duration
Full time: 4 years

Tuition fees (2021/22)
This programme includes full cover of tuition fees.

Click here to view our programme brochure


Application dates

All applicants
Open: 9 November 2020
Close: 31st January 2021

Location: London, Kings Cross (Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families) and New Haven, Yale University (USA)

Entry requirements

i) An upper second-class honours degree of a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard obtained after a programme of study extending over not less than three years in a university (or educational institution of university rank), in a subject appropriate to that of the programme to be followed; or
ii) A registrable qualification appropriate to the programme to be followed awarded by a UK university; or a qualification of an equivalent standard appropriate to the programme to be followed awarded by a university (or educational institution of university rank) outside the UK;

iii) A Masters degree from a UK University in a subject appropriate to the programme to be followed;
iv) A professional or other qualification obtained by written examinations and approved by UCL as an appropriate entrance qualification for the MPhil or PhD degree in question.

v) The programme is open for Home students only.

English Language Requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Note that this is a highly selective programme and early applications are recommended.


The programme provides students with a PhD track in which they can conduct collaborative research between two laboratories, one at UCL, the other at Yale. Students are registered with UCL and will work towards receiving a PhD in Developmental Neuroscience and Mental Health from UCL in 4 years or less. The programme offers some flexibility, with the schedule for each student dictated by the demands of their research, and students will spend approximately the same amount of time in their UCL and Yale labs. Students will have a primary UCL supervisor, as well as a secondary UCL supervisor and a secondary Yale supervisor who will act as mentor and host the student while they are in Yale.

Year 1 – Begin initial stages of research at UCL and develop research idea
Year 2 – Begin collaborative lab project and complete MPhil upgrade
Year 3 – Travel to Yale and continue collaborative lab project

Year 4 – Complete and submit research project; PhD Viva at UCL




The programme will conduct leading research into identifying developmental processes at a biological, neural and cognitive level that drive and maintain symptoms of mental illness during childhood and adolescence into adulthood. The programme will draw on UCL’s and Yale’s world-leading research in neuroscience and mental health science, including research in: cellular and systems neuroscience; pharmacology; cognitive neuroscience and neuroimaging; cognitive psychology; and developmental psychology, -psychopathology and -neuroscience.

During their first two years, students will be able to follow Master’s-level modules at UCL and the Anna Freud Centre, bespoke to their training needs and focused on areas in which they do not have specific academic training. Students will be able to complete modules in statistics, data analysis and computer programming, and good research practice, as well as courses covering other transferrable skills that will serve them well during their PhD and beyond.

Students will have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of training available at UCL, including through its Doctoral Skills Development Programme.

PhD Studentship

This programme includes a studentship. Tuition fees, travel and training expenses, and a generous allowance for research consumables costs are all included in the studentship. The studentship comes with the responsibility of providing teaching support across the duration of the programme (both at UCL and Yale); approximately 200 hours per year. At UCL this will include programmes delivered at the Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology and the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. At the Anna Freud Centre there are currently 9 post-graduate programmes with taught content, and with over 300 registered students. More broadly, there are many relevant clinical services and policy related activities that would provide an excellent training environment for students in the mental health field. At Yale, candidates would have the opportunity to teach on programmes delivered at the Child Study Centre.


MPhil/PhD upgrade process (written submission of Research Proposal, Literature Review and Methodology and short viva)
ritten thesis (100,000 words)
Viva Voce

Why Study at UCL?

The Division of Psychology & Language Sciences undertakes world-leading research and teaching in mind, behaviour, and language.

Our work attracts staff and students from around the world. Together they create an outstanding and vibrant environment, taking advantage of cutting-edge resources such as a behavioural neuroscience laboratory, a centre for brain imaging, and extensive laboratories for research in speech and language, perception, and cognition.

There are opportunities for graduate students to be taught by world-renowned researchers in all areas of investigation, from basic processes to applied research. The Division offers a supportive environment including numerous specialist seminars, workshops, and guest lectures.


Many students who complete a PhD in the Division stay in academia, either going on to become postdoctoral researchers or research assistants, and ultimately lecturers. Some go on to further training in fields such as clinical psychology, educational psychology, consultancy or applied research. A PhD degree taken here is recognised both nationally and internationally as a qualification of the highest status. 


Apply Now

Deadline for Applications
The official deadline is the 31st January 2021 but we suggest applying early as this is a highly selective programme.

Please note: You are required to provide details of 2 referees in your application, at least one of whom should be academic. We require your references to be completed on or very soon after the application deadline so please bear this in mind when you apply.


This programme includes a studentship, which covers a living tax-free stipend, payment of UCL tuition fees, travel allowance over the duration of the PhD, project costs as well as cover of health insurance while at Yale.


    Department: Division of Psychology and Language Sciences

    Contact Email: UCL-YalePhD@annafreud.org


    Dr. Nikolaus Steinbeis is the Co-Director for this programme at UCL. He is Associate Professor and head of the Developmental Change and Plasticity Lab in the Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology at UCL he studies the role of cognitive control in adaptive child development, with a focus on malleability and sensitive periods. He is also Director of the MRes in Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology run across UCL, the AFC and Yale.

    Professor Eamon McCrory is Co-Director for this programme at UCL. Professor of Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology at UCL and Director of the Developmental Risk and Resilience Unit. His research uses brain imaging and psychological approaches to investigate the impact of childhood maltreatment on emotional development and mental health. He is also a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Director of Postgraduate Studies at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families.

    Dr Helena Rutherford is the Co-Director for this programme at Yale. She is an Assistant Professor at the Yale Child Study Center. Her research focuses on understanding the neurobiology of parenting. She uses primarily behavioural and electrophysiological assessments, and her recent work has focused on measuring sensitivity to infant cues (visual and auditory) as well as top-down regulation of response to infant cues by cognitive control. She is also interested in how addiction may impact these processes.

    Professor Linda Mayes is Co-Director for this programme at Yale. Linda leads the Yale Bridge Programme at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, and is the Director and Arnold Gesell Professor of Child Psychiatry, Paediatrics, and Psychology in the Yale Child Study Center.