Cell and Developmental Biology MPhil/PhD

London, Bloomsbury

Graduate students work with internationally renowned mentors and are immersed in research at the cutting edge of basic and biomedical science. You will emerge well-trained and well-rounded with outstanding skills that are internationally recognised, poised to take up posts in leading groups around the world.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
£5,860
£2,930
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
£32,100
£16,050
Duration
3 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
Research degrees may start at any time of the year, but typically start in September.
Applications accepted
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor’s degree in an appropriate subject or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard, or a recognised Master’s degree in an appropriate subject.

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. International Preparation Courses

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.

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 world-leading research groups of the department (Professor John O'Keefe was awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize) study biological questions ranging from molecule to man. These are listed below and are remarkable in their breadth and depth, from fundamental aspects of cell biology through to behaviour, and from key questions in biology to understanding mechanisms of human disease.

Who this course is for

Our PhD programme will provide you with the opportunities to develop the analytical and research skills you need to answer the scientific questions of our time.

What this course will give you

The groups at UCL are world-leading, generating seminal contributions to their fields of study. Students working in the laboratories are welcomed into vibrant groups of enthusiasts, exposed to a wealth of expertise in an extraordinarily open and collaborative scientific community. Access to expert help in almost any conceivable area is available through the extensive network of scientists that makes up the UCL scientific community.

Within the departments there are regular laboratory meetings, project presentations, journal clubs, student-led symposia and other opportunities to hone presentation skills and training, extended through regular seminars from experts around the world and locally organised international symposia.

The foundation of your career

UCL is an internationally recognised and respected institution. A graduate degree from UCL opens up numerous national and international employment opportunities. Most of our graduate students pursue very successful careers in science and medicine. Two of our recent students have been awarded the Beddington Medal.

Employability

Many of our recent graduates have taken up postdoctoral positions, for example in the UK at UCL and KCL; in Europe at the Hubrecht Institute, Utrecht; and across the world at FundRx, New York.  Some have continued their studies, become an FY1 doctor, taken up positions in teaching or at a New York charitable trust; others have progressed to become principal investigators at UCL, Cambridge and New York.

Networking

UCL and its extended network of research institutes are located in the centre of London and surrounded by numerous other research institutions, including the Francis Crick Institute and the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour. Students are encouraged to meet and collaborate extensively with members of these institutions. Regular seminars and training courses encourage interaction across London, the UK and Europe. You'll regularly attend international conferences, workshops and retreats, providing opportunities for networking with colleagues and potential future employers.

Teaching and learning

Research areas and structure

  • Affective disorders
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Bioinformatics and computational biology
  • Biological clocks/sleep
  • Calcium signalling
  • Cancer cell biology
  • Cell migration
  • Cell signalling and signal transduction mechanisms
  • Early development (e.g. fertilisation, gastrulation, embryonic induction)
  • Evolution and development
  • Intracellular movements: endocytosis, exocytosis, RNA, protein, lipid and organelle traffic
  • Learning, memory and long-term change in the nervous system
  • Left-right asymmetry
  • Live cell imaging
  • Mitochondrial biology
  • Neural crest migration and differentiation
  • Neural development and neural cell biology
  • Neuroaesthetics
  • Neurodegenerative disease
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Pain
  • Regeneration and repair
  • Stem cell biology
  • Systems and synthetic biology.

Research environment

UCL Cell and Developmental Biology brings together leading international experts across a wide range of cell, developmental, neuroscience and evolutionary biology. The department houses excellent core facilities. We participate in numerous PhD programmes across the campus, frequently networking between disciplines, departments and institutions, including close interactions with experts in computational and systems biology. Students emerge with an outstanding scientific training and pursue careers in academia, biotech, the pharmaceutical industry, science education, media and government.

Research areas

  • Affective disorders
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Bioinformatics and computational biology
  • Biological clocks/sleep
  • Calcium signalling
  • Cancer cell biology
  • Cell migration
  • Cell signalling and signal transduction mechanisms
  • Early development (e.g. fertilisation, gastrulation, embryonic induction)
  • Evolution and development
  • Intracellular movements: endocytosis, exocytosis, RNA, protein, lipid and organelle traffic
  • Learning, memory and long-term change in the nervous system
  • Left-right asymmetry
  • Live cell imaging
  • Mitochondrial biology
  • Neural crest migration and differentiation
  • Neural development and neural cell biology
  • Neuroaesthetics
  • Neurodegenerative disease
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Pain
  • Regeneration and repair
  • Stem cell biology
  • Systems and synthetic biology.

CDB PhD students spend most of their time within their research group working on their PhD project, the three-four year PhD programme contains other important training and networking activities too.

Induction week
The PhD programme starts with an induction week, to give the new students a head start in getting to know each other, their university, and the PhD programme.

Student progression points
During the PhD programme, there are a number of progression points to review academic progress. The progression points allow the student to discuss how their project is progressing and receive guidance on their research.

Student talks
Students develop their skills in oral presentation by presenting their research to their research group and supervisory team in each year of their PhD. In addition, at the annual Departmental symposium first year students give a 15 minute talk, second years present a poster and final years give a 30 minute talk.

Student reports
At the end of the 1st year of their PhD, students submit a written report on their research progress and plans for the next steps of their PhD, developing their writing skills before finally writing up their PhD thesis in their final year. Constructive feedback is provided on each report by their supervisory team.

Skills training 
Across UCL, PhD student provision is supported and monitored by the UCL Doctoral School (https://www.grad.ucl.ac.uk/) which provides the main avenue for training support for PhD students at UCL.

Seminars, workshops, lectures and conferences
CDB hosts a range of both internal and external speakers providing seminars, workshops and lectures that students benefit from. Students have the opportunity to meet with visiting speakers to discuss their work. Students have access to funding to allow them to present their work at national and international conferences, providing valuable exposure to the wider scientific community, and an exciting and important learning experience.

Career development
Students are encouraged to plan ahead and think about what they would like to do next with support from bespoke careers events managed by dedicated UCL Careers Office staff.

Accessibility

Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.


Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2023/24) £5,860 £2,930
Tuition fees (2023/24) £32,100 £16,050

Route code RRDBISSCDB01

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: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Additional costs

Your research degree may be subject to an Additional Fee Element (AFE).  The AFE (also known as bench fees) is an additional cost, incurred by yourself or your sponsor.  It is levied to cover the costs related to consumables, equipment and materials etc which are not included in the tuition fee.  

As each research project is unique in nature, the AFE is calculated on a student by student basis and is determined by your academic supervisor.

Please contact your supervisor directly for advice on whether or not your programme will incur an AFE. You will be notified of any AFE in your offer letter.

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

Across the School of Life and Medical Sciences there is a wealth of graduate programmes that will bring students into the department. You may approach academic staff individually as there is a variety of intradepartmental options or opportunities to write grant applications for PhD funding.

You may also apply for any of the other programmes listed on our department's website which are suitable for your skills and interests. These include four-year programmes where the first year is spent taking taught courses or in laboratory rotations before deciding on a final PhD laboratory and project; there are also several three year programmes where you enter the PhD host department directly.

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

Research degrees may start at any time of the year, but typically start in September. Deadlines and start dates can be dictated by funding arrangements for studentships and scholarships, so please check these on the department's website before submitting your application. In most cases you should identify and contact potential supervisors before making your application. For more information please see our How to apply page.

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: 2023-2024

Year of entry: 2022-2023

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