UCL Graduate degrees


Developmental and Stem Cell Biology PhD

This programme offers a unique environment with one of the largest and strongest concentrations of high-quality developmental and stem cell biologists anywhere in the world. For more details please see our departmental website: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/biosciences/study/phd/cdb

Key information

Programme starts

September 2021

Modes and duration

Full time: 3 or 4 years

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 9 November 2020
Close: 30 July 2021

Tuition fees (2021/22)

£5,525 (FT)
£26,940 (FT)

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

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.

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

Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English

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.

International students

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.

Select your country:


This programme provides training at the interface between developmental and stem cell biology and can be taken in either three or four years. The four year version includes a first year with rotations in three laboratories; both include working in the lab and active, small group training in key skills including good writing, experimental design, reviewing papers and many modern techniques.

Research areas

  • Cell fate determination and pattern formation
  • Cell migration
  • Cell signalling and signal transduction mechanisms
  • Early development (e.g. fertilisation, gastrulation, embryonic induction)
  • Evolution and development
  • Gastrulation
  • Induction, tissue interactions
  • Left-right asymmetry
  • Live imaging
  • Morphogenesis, tissue patterning
  • Neural development and neural cell biology
  • Regeneration and repair
  • Stem cell biology
  • Tissue engineering
  • Twins
More information can be found on the department website: Developmental and Stem Cell Biology PhD

About this degree

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.

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


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.


Applications from self-funded candidates are welcome. Please note that there is no funding attached to this programme, but you may apply for a UCL scholarship.

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


Many of our recent graduates have taken up postdoctoral positions, e.g. in the UK at UCL, the Francis Crick Institute, the University of Edinburgh and the Institute of Cancer Research; and in Europe at the Danish Stem Cell Center in Copenhagen.  Others have taken up analyst, consultant and specialist positions at Cancer Research UK, Amazon, Costello Medical in London, Merck Ventures BV in Amsterdam and the Boston Consulting Group in Berlin.


UCL is an internationally recognised and respected institution. A graduate degree from UCL opens up numerous national and international employment opportunities. Our students work with renowned mentors and are immersed in research at the cutting-edge of basic and biomedical science, emerging well-trained and well-rounded with outstanding skills, poised to take up posts in leading groups around the world. Most of our graduate students pursue very successful careers in science and medicine. Two of our recent students have been awarded the Beddington Medal.


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.

Why study this degree at UCL?

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.

The four year programme comprises three lab rotations and a taught component in the first year, providing the basis for an informed choice and an excellent platform for progression in the research project in years two to four. The three year version also contains small group workshops to learn important skills but there are no rotations.

Department: Cell & Developmental Biology

What our students and staff say

Student review

"UCL is a great university for research so it was always somewhere I wanted to consider for my PhD. I loved living in London during my degree and really enjoy residing in a city where there are so many great (and sometimes free!) things to do during my free time."

Sophie McLachlan

Developmental and Stem Cell Biology PhD
Student review

"The state-of-the-art imaging facilities at UCL particularly impressed me. The three short rotation projects at the start of my PhD were really valuable to me, as this enabled me to try out different projects and work with three different supervisors in a range of laboratory environments. This allowed me to make an informed choice when settling on my final PhD project, which was useful as my final choice ended up being quite different from what I think I might have initially chosen on paper!"

Rachel Bonnington

Cell and Developmental Biology PhD, Developmental and Stem Cell Biology PhD

Application and next steps


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

This programme requires two references. Further information regarding references can be found in our How to apply section.

Application deadlines

All applicants
30 July 2021

This programme commences in September each year. The application deadlines are usually mid-December for candidates applying for a UCL Scholarship, and end March for self-funded candidates. For more information please see our department's website 

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

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Page last modified on 28 August 2021