Ear Institute MPhil/PhD

London, Bloomsbury

The UCL Ear Institute includes arguably the greatest range of auditory scientists housed in a single institution anywhere in the world. This multidisciplinary environment provides a unique opportunity to undertake research and receive world-class training in state-of-the-art techniques. Interacting with different specialities is encouraged providing greater scope for career development.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
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 UK Master’s degree in a relevant discipline, or a minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor’s degree from a UK university, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 1

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.

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.

*Should you experience any issues with the drop-down below, try de-selecting the country and re-selecting it. If this doesn't work, then you may refer to this page which may help you find the same equivalencies - check the Entry requirements above beforehand. Please note the table is indicative only, revisiting when the dropdown is working to confirm is recommended.

About this degree

The extensive specialities of the research investigators at the Ear Institute provide an opportunity to study just about every aspect of hearing from cell and molecular biology to clinical research and cognitive neuroscience. Collaborations between these areas also allow novel experimental approaches that cross traditional scientific boundaries.

Who this course is for

Our multi-disciplinary environment provides a unique chance to undertake research and receive world class training in state-of-the-art techniques. Interacting with different specialities is encouraged, providing greater opportunities for career development.

Prospective students should ensure that their research proposal fits with the research interests of at least two members of staff listed here.

What this course will give you

The institute has multiple state-of-the-art laboratories specialising in cell and molecular biology, genetics, auditory function, imaging, auditory processing and cognitive neuroscience. The institute links with the largest ENT hospital in the UK, provides a wonderful training environment for prospective research students, both clinical and non-clinical. However, what makes it exceptional is the interaction between these laboratories and scientists to create research that is both novel and distinct.

All research students benefit from this interaction to develop the skills and knowledge base that enables their future career development, whether academic, clinical or in other fields.

The foundation of your career

Research students who study at the UCL Ear Institute are exposed to a unique and truly multidisciplinary environment in a world-class institution.

Academic employers across the world recognise the strength of the institute and the employability of students is therefore greatly enhanced.

The excellence of the training environment is also recognised by non-academic employers as recent graduates have obtained prestigious positions in government departments and in patenting law. Additionally, the engagement with leading manufacturers and suppliers of audiological devices and pharmaceutical companies provides excellent employment opportunities for students.


Recent graduates have gone on to work in research institutions across the world, in higher education, in schools, the NHS (Moorfields Eye Hospital) and other disciplines.


The UCL Ear Institute is highly engaged with external groups including charities, investors and companies. Students will gain from the institute's commitment to enterprise activities by being exposed to such groups and supported in entrepreneurial and commercial endeavours.

Teaching and learning

Students on a research postgraduate degree will have their teaching and learning directed by their supervisor as appropriate. This will be discussed directly with them.

Students will be assessed via MPhil upgrade, submission of a thesis and viva examination.

Students will attend a one-hour research seminar every week. A minimum one-hour meeting with research supervisor each month.

Research areas and structure

  • Molecular genetics of hearing and deafness: discovering the genetic causes of deafness and hearing loss, molecular mechanisms of hair cell loss, whole transcriptome and whole exome approaches
  • Cell biology of hearing and balance loss: understanding the mechanism of sensory hair cell death, repair of the sensory epithelia, hair cell regeneration, stem cell-based approaches for screening and therapy
  • Cellular physiology of hair cells: mechanisms of transduction, biophysics of afferent synapses, physiological characterisation of auditory neurons, electrophysiology
  • Clinical audiology: evaluating current approaches for hearing impairment, tinnitus, cochlear implants, balance disorders and new diagnostic tools
  • Cochlear homeostasis: epithelial barrier functions, roles of gap junctions, fluid and ion homeostasis
  • Cognitive neuroscience: brain mechanisms of sound localisation, coding complex sounds in auditory cortex, molecular physiological basis of synaptic and neural activity
  • Molecular genetics of hearing and deafness: identifying susceptibility genes for age-related hearing loss
  • Psychophysics and speech perception: spectral and temporal processing, pitch perception, binaural hearing, development of speech perception and music perception
  • Testing auditory function: otoacoustic emissions to identify susceptibility to hearing loss, development of sensitive audiological test procedures for diagnostic clinical use.

Research environment

The UCL Ear Institute brings together academics and clinicians whose work aims to understand hearing and fight deafness. Experienced academics and surgeons, working in fields as diverse as human genetics, biophysics, computational neuroscience, cell biology and human cognition, come together to create a genuinely collaborative research environment.

You will be encouraged to interact with these different specialities to provide you with greater opportunities for career development. Recent National Institute for Health Research / Research and Development Corporation (RAND) bibliometric analysis of the most cited articles in England, confirms that the Ear Institute is producing the most important research in the fields of “deafness and hearing problems” and “audiology & speech-language pathology”.  

You are required to register initially for the MPhil degree with the expectation of transfer to PhD after successful completion of an upgrade viva 9-18 months after the initial registration.

To successfully upgrade to a PhD, you are required to submit an upgrade report including literature review and presentation of your research to date. You are also required to present this work to the Department and to an upgrade panel consisting of your thesis committee.

Within three months of joining the programme, you are expected to agree with your supervisor the basic structure of your research project, an appropriate research method and a realistic plan of work.

This will also include a training plan incorporating the Doctoral School Skills Development Programme. At the end of the first year, you will be expected to agree a work plan for the second year with your supervisor, including a plan for your upgrade presentation.

At the end of the second year, your supervisor and you will have agreed your thesis structure and timetable for writing.

The PhD programme is expected to be completed within three years for full-time students, and over five years for part-time students. If you are not ready to submit at the end of the third year, you may be able to go onto CRS.

For part-time students, are required to register initially for the MPhil degree with the expectation of transfer to PhD after successful completion of an upgrade viva between 15 and 30 months after the initial registration.

To successfully upgrade to a PhD, you are required to submit an upgrade report including literature review and presentation of your research to date. You are also required to present this work to the Department and to an upgrade panel consisting of your thesis committee.


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 and Wellbeing team.

Ear Institute, 332 Grays Inn Road, London, WC1X 8EE - Open day

UCL Ear Institute Information Day

Are you interested in studying hearing or training to be an audiologist? Visit the UCL Ear Institute to find out more.

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) £34,400 £17,200

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

There are no additional costs for this programme.

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

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

Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit to see if you need to consider these in your application preparation. You should identify and contact potential supervisors and the Departmental Graduate Tutor before making your application. For more information 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: 2024-2025

Year of entry: 2023-2024

Got questions? Get in touch

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