Behavioural Science and Health MPhil/PhD

London, Bloomsbury

The aim of our MPhil/PhD in Behavioural Science and Health is to equip the next generation of experts with the tools to address major 21st century health challenges and deliver real-world impact.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
3 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
October 2024
February 2025
May 2025
Applications accepted
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Prospective students should apply at least four months before their intended start date. If you require a visa we recommend allowing for more time.

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor’s degree and/or a Master’s degree (preferably with a merit or distinction) in a relevant discipline, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 2

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level.

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

If you are intending to apply for a time-limited visa to complete your UCL studies (e.g., Student visa, Skilled worker visa, PBS dependant visa etc.) you may be required to obtain ATAS clearance. This will be confirmed to you if you obtain an offer of a place. Please note that ATAS processing times can take up to six months, so we recommend you consider these timelines when submitting your application to UCL.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

The Behavioural Science and Health research degree programme is based within UCL's Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care.

You will join an extremely engaging PhD programme, which currently supports a vibrant community of over 100 students from all over the world.

This programme offers you the opportunity to join a multidisciplinary research department with experts who focus on a wide range of public health concerns such as:

  • Behavioural Science and Health
  • Health Psychology
  • Psychobiology
  • Cancer Prevention and Early Diagnosis
  • Cancer Survivorship

You will be supported to gain a wealth of skills, experience and networking opportunities that are relevant for a wide range of future careers, both within academia and more widely in the healthcare, industry and governmental sector.

You will receive direct supervision from world-leading academics based on UCL's campus in the heart of London. All PhD students are supported by supervisory panels of multidisciplinary staff, as well as student mentors, and departmental graduate tutors.

Who this course is for

This programme provides training for those looking for a career in epidemiology, public health and health care policy, either in academia, industry or public health practice. It is offered full time or part time, the latter option being suitable for those who continue in employment while gaining a research qualification.

What this course will give you

This programme will provide you with access to a wide range of supporting opportunities that will increase your ability to develop transferable skills, that are sought after by national and international employers.

Skills Development programme

UCL's DocSkills Development Programme is open to all PhD students at UCL and it offers an extensive list of development opportunities. The purpose of the programme is to give you the opportunity to expand your research and transferable skills in order to support your research, professional development and employability. Find out more about UCL's DocSkills Development programme.

Mentoring programme

We offer a Peer-Level Research Student Mentoring Scheme and provide all new research degree students with a peer-mentor upon arrival. The mentor you are allocated will generally be a 2nd or 3rd year PhD student.


We take career support very seriously at UCL and you can find out more within the programmes Careers and Employability section.

Early Career Researchers Forum

The Institute’s Early Career Researcher Forum (ECF) is an ongoing and expanding programme of regular seminars for postdoctoral researchers and PhD students. Previous events focused on how to apply for jobs in academia, authorship and publishing, patient and public involvement in research, using social media in research (including film), how PhD students can best prepare for their viva, and oral and poster presentations.

Journal Club

A PhD and junior researcher journal club group which meets in an informal setting. With the aim of improving student's critical analysis and methodology skills, the Journal Club discusses papers from a broad range of topics on health promotion and disease prevention. The club is run by students and facilitated by a senior member of academic staff within the Institute.

Lunchtime Seminar Series

The Lunchtime Seminar series is delivered by the department's research groups and PhD students. The seminars typically take place once a month.

PhD Poster Competition

Every year we run a PhD student poster competition which is an opportunity to share students work with members of staff, outsiders who will be visiting for our Open Day and fellow students.

3-minute thesis competition (3MT)

The Institute runs an annual 3-minute thesis competition which is an academic competition that challenges PhD students to describe their research within three minutes to a general audience. 3MT celebrates the discoveries made by research students and encourages them to communicate the importance of their research to the broader community. It's a great opportunity for students to practice their presentation skills, meet other candidates and have a chance to win prize money.

Teaching Opportunities for PhD Students

The Institute is committed and recognises the importance of providing postgraduate teaching assistant opportunities for PhD students, so they can gain valuable experience during their studies at UCL. Formal is provided and a wide range of teaching opportunities are offered each term.

The foundation of your career

We produce graduates with the skills and knowledge sought after by government departments and public sector organisations worldwide, as well as leading academic institutions.


This research degree programme aims to provide excellent and challenging training for exceptional students, so that they may successfully pursue careers in:

  • The local and central government
  • NHS trusts
  • Public health organisations
  • Hospitals and clinical trial units
  • Academic researchers and university lecturers
  • Policy management
  • Government advisors
  • Charity and non-governmental sectors

This degree can be varied and may have an international dimension, including fieldwork carried out abroad, setting up a study within the UK or other countries, or using secondary data from some of the UK’s largest, most comprehensive longitudinal datasets many of which are housed within the institute.

You will also have access to UCL's Doctoral Skills Development programme, which will enable you to expand your research and transferable skills in order to support your research, professional development and employability.


The Institute's research departments collaborate with third sector and governmental organisations, as well as members of the media, both nationally and internationally to ensure the highest possible impact of their work beyond the academic community. Students are encouraged to take up internships with relevant organisations where funding permits. Members of staff also collaborate closely with academics from leading institutions globally.

Teaching and learning

Learning is mostly self-directed with input from PhD supervisors. The training and development programme for each student is overseen and supported by a Thesis Committee panel, appointed by the supervisory team.

PhD final assessment is by means of a thesis, which should demonstrate your ability to pursue original research based upon a good understanding of the research techniques and concepts appropriate to the discipline.

Your thesis must also represent your distinct and significant contribution to the subject, either through the discovery of new knowledge, through the connection of previously unrelated facts, the development of a new theory, or the revision of older views.

Your thesis should reflect the exercise of critical judgement with regard to both your own work and that of other scholars in the field.

You are required to register initially for the MPhil degree with the expectation of transfer to PhD after successful completion of an upgrade viva. For a successful upgrade to PhD, you prepare a written report, give an oral presentation and pass an oral examination.

For a PhD award, you will be examined on your submitted thesis, this involves a viva (an oral exam) with two independent examiners.

Contact hours and hours of self-study are agreed between the student and the supervisor at the beginning of their research degree and should be reviewed on a regular basis. Full-time postgraduate research students are expected to work a minimum of 36.5 hours per week on their project. With agreement of their supervisors, contact time can be on-site or remote working depending upon the nature and stage of the project. PGR students can have the opportunity to access UCL facilities ‘out of hours’ including weekends and holidays during their period of registration. Students will have research meetings with their supervisors at least once per month. Full-time Research students can take 27 days of annual leave, plus eight days of Bank holidays and six UCL closure days.

Research areas and structure

The Research Department of Behavioural Science and Health is dedicated to research on how human behaviour impacts health and health outcomes. Our research and teaching reflect our interdisciplinary approach to health and wellbeing, focusing on a broad range of public health issues, such as alcohol and tobacco use, heart disease, cancer, and obesity.

Find out more.

Research environment

UCL is among the world's top ten universities (QS World University Rankings 2024) with a reputation for high-quality research. Located in the heart of London, it is a stimulating and exciting environment in which to study.

  • 1st in the UK for research power and impact in medicine, health and life sciences (REF 2021)
  • 6th in the world for public health (ShanghaiRanking's 2023 Global Ranking of Academic Subjects)
  • 9th in the world: among the top universities in the world (QS World University Rankings 2024)

UCL can bring the full power of a multi-faculty university to bear on discussions of population health, involving academics from the wide range of disciplines necessary to tackle some of the most difficult issues in public health.

More specifically, the UCL's Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care brings together four research departments, whose interests span the life course from childhood to old age, and research from the origins of disease to the development of innovative interventions.

The four research Departments are:

Full-time students are normally registered for a minimum of 3 years. Part-time students are required to register for a minimum of 5 years.

All students initially register for the MPhil degree before being upgraded (typically early in the 2nd year) to the PhD degree. For a successful upgrade to a PhD, students must prepare a written report, give an oral presentation and pass an oral examination. 

Students are regularly monitored to ensure that they are making good progress and that supervisory arrangements are satisfactory to both the student and supervisor. Once the student has completed their research and submitted their thesis, they have a viva (an oral exam) with two examiners.

Part-time students are required to register for a minimum of 5 years.

All students initially register for the MPhil degree before being upgraded (typically early in the 2nd year) to the PhD degree. For a successful upgrade to a PhD, students must prepare a written report, give an oral presentation and pass an oral examination. 

Students are regularly monitored to ensure that they are making good progress and that supervisory arrangements are satisfactory to both the student and supervisor. Once the student has completed their research and submitted their thesis, they have a viva (an oral exam) with two examiners.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £6,035 £3,015
Tuition fees (2024/25) £31,100 £15,550

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website:

Additional costs

There may be additional costs related to participating in scientific meetings, conferences, short courses, or data collection/access, but these are all optional.

The students can apply for financial support provided by the Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care to participate in conferences.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

View the Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care's Studentship and Funding webpage for opportunities. 

The following studentships have been received in previous years: ESRC, MRC, MRC/ESRC, NIHR, Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK, Wellcome Trust, European Union and British Heart Foundation.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Next steps

We accept research degree applications throughout the year. Please note: essential information about the application process can be found on the department website.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2024-2025

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