Genetics, Evolution and Environment MPhil/PhD

London, Bloomsbury

Undertaking a PhD in the Research Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment (GEE) provides training and expert knowledge in a specialised field of research. As well as facilitating your studies, we also recognise the importance of obtaining a broader skill set, and the programme provides key transferable skills for future employment.

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.

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.

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 Research Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment (GEE) carries out world-class research and promotes an integrative approach to understanding biological systems. We provide an enabling environment with excellent research facilities, analytical equipment and specialised laboratories. Staff are affiliated with subject-specific research centres including the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research (CBER); the Centre for Life's Origins and Evolution (CLOE); the UCL Centre for Computational Biology; the Institute of Healthy Ageing (IHA); the UCL Genetics Institute (UGI); the People and Nature Lab. These centres provide an excellent environment for postgraduate training that equips students with skills and opportunities for a diverse range of careers.

Who this course is for

Our PhD students usually have at least some previous background in one or more of these subjects: evolutionary biology, phylogenetics, genetics/genomics, developmental biology, ecology, mathematics, statistics, computer science or biodiversity research.

What this course will give you

PhDs offered by our department cover a broad range of topics so that students gain a valuable range of transferable skills that are highly desirable in the workplace. We encourage an interdisciplinary experience for PhD students, ensuring a broad skill set designed for academic life as well as non-academic related careers. Our research students receive appropriate training not only in technical skills, but also in personal skills and are actively encouraged to present their work at local meetings and on the international stage. 

The foundation of your career

PhDs offered by our department cover a broad range of topics so that students gain a valuable range of transferable skills that are highly desirable in the workplace. The doctoral training centres specifically encourage an interdisciplinary experience for PhD students, ensuring a broad skill set designed for academic life as well as non-academic related careers.


Our PhD students usually have at least some previous background in one or more of these subjects: evolutionary biology, phylogenetics, genetics/genomics, developmental biology, ecology, mathematics, statistics, computer science or biodiversity research. 


PhD students take an active role in the department, participating in the seminar series that includes outstanding guests from the UK and abroad. PhD students are encouraged to propose speakers and host events. Additionally, PhD students organise their own regular meetings and receive departmental support to invite speakers from different fields (academia, industry, consultancy companies, charities, publishers, etc) to give them insight and advice on various career options. They also take part in and give presentations at national and international scientific meetings, which in most cases include networking events. 

Teaching and learning

PhD students in work closely with their supervisor and the research team, usually in daily contact. The considerable deepening of knowledge and understanding of the research area that is characteristic of PhD study requires constant self-directed study and participation in the discussion of research methods, data analysis and interpretation.  

Throughout the PhD programme, regular scheduled progression points are used to review academic progress. This will take the form of either a report or a meeting and is overseen by a Thesis Committee, comprised of a secondary supervisor and a thesis chair. The student is also expected to meet regularly with their supervisor and/or supervision team to oversee progress. Students are required to undertake training in statistics, transferable skills, research ethics, and skills appropriate to their studies. These are provided by the Faculty or through the UCL Doctoral School.

The student would be expected to commit to a minimum of 36.5 hours per week, as consistent with a full-time post at UCL, or the equivalent timing for a part-time position. This time frame also includes self-directed learning. The demands of a PhD may also necessitate additional out-of-hours work to accommodate a project’s need, e.g., data collection.

Research areas and structure

Research environment

Our research includes a very broad range of activity such as biodiversity and environmental biology, the biology of ageing, microbiology, computational biology, evolution and development, evolutionary genetics, human genetics and human evolution. This diversity makes our department an exceptionally stimulating and exciting department in which to do a PhD.

Research areas

  • Biodiversity and environmental biology
  • Biology of ageing
  • Computational biology
  • Evolutionary genetics
  • Evolution and development
  • Human genetics and human evolution
  • Systems biology

Although PhD students spend most of their time within their research group working on their PhD project, the 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. Interactive sessions cover various topics, including organising and recording your research, keeping on top of the literature, designing experiments and research integrity. Students may also be introduced to the institute's Science Technology Platforms, through which they can access state-of-the-art equipment and expertise.

Student progression points
Throughout the PhD programme, there are a number of scheduled 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 from their supervisory team – their primary supervisor and thesis committee.

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. 

Student reports
In each year of their PhD, students submit written reports on their research, 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 
Throughout the PhD programme, students receive tailored training on presenting and writing about their research, including specialised IT software training and workshops on talking about science both to scientific and non-specialist audiences.

Seminars, workshops, lectures and conferences
We host an extensive range of both internal and external seminars, workshops and lectures that students benefit from. Students have the opportunity to meet with visiting speakers to discuss their work, and also to present their own work at conferences.

Career development
Students are encouraged to plan ahead and think about what they would like to do next. To help with this, they have access to various internal and external careers talks and workshops and the opportunity to carry out short work placements. External speakers, working within and beyond academia, chat openly and informally about their own careers and offer advice to those interested in pursuing a similar career. 

In some circumstances, students enrol for a part-time PhD which extends the PhD programme usually to 5-6 years duration. This may be combined with part-time work or with other responsibilities. In all other respects, a part-time PhD programme aims to achieve, as far as possible, experience equivalent to a full-time PhD.


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) £34,400 £17,200

Route code RRDBISSGEE01

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

Additional Fee Element - (AFE)

Research programmes at UCL may be subject to an Additional Fee Element (AFE). The AFE is applied to cover additional costs related to consumables, equipment and materials and other items (excluding student visas) which are not included in the composite tuition fee listed in the fees schedule and is, therefore, applied to a minority of programmes.

As each PhD programme is unique in its nature, the AFE is calculated on a student by student basis and is determined by the supervisor. The AFE is banded into four fixed amounts: £1,000, £2,500, £5,000 and £10,000, with one further band for variable sums over £10,000. Please contact your supervisor directly for advice on whether or not your 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

Across the division there are three Research Council four-year PhD programmes funded by the MRC, BBSRC and NERC. There may also be funding opportunities through individual research grants.

Further information about funding and scholarships can be found on the Fees, Costs and Funding page.

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 usually start on 1 October, but may also start on 1 February or 1 May. Deadlines and start dates can be dictated by funding arrangements for studentships and scholarships. 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: 2024-2025

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