Institute of Ophthalmology MPhil/PhD

London, Old Street

The UCL Institute of Ophthalmology is a vibrant learning environment in which to carry out postgraduate research. Postgraduate students are supervised by internationally renowned experts with access to state-of-the-art laboratories. Our close contact with clinicians in Moorfields Eye Hospital allows for rapid translation of basic research to address clinically relevant eye diseases and disorders.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
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.

Applicants for the current academic year: Please use this link to apply

Entry requirements

MPhil/PhD: candidates normally require a minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor’s degree from a UK university (or its overseas equivalent) in a relevant subject.

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. International Preparation Courses

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

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 Institute is committed to a multidisciplinary research portfolio that furthers an understanding of the eye and visual system, linked with clinical investigations targeted to specific problems in the prevention and treatment of eye disease.

Our research themes are grouped as follows: 'Development, Ageing and Disease', 'Rescue, Repair and Regeneration', 'Visual Neuroscience and Function', and 'Population and Data Science'.

Who this course is for

What this course will give you

The Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital are recognised globally and have an outstanding track record in basic biomedical research, much of which has been translated into important advances in innovative therapies.

Students will benefit from advanced facilities and high-level ophthalmic practice.

The MPhil/PhD programme will provide unique opportunities to interact with leading clinicians from Moorfields Eye Hospital as well as from other prominent institutions.

The foundation of your career

Postgraduate students are supervised by internationally renowned experts in their field with access to state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment. In addition, our close partnership with clinicians in Moorfields Eye Hospital, who also contribute to teaching, allows for rapid translation of basic research to address clinically relevant eye diseases and disorders.


As a graduate from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology research programme, students will have developed advanced skills in research, analysis and writing.

UCL Institute of Ophthalmology offers an outstanding educational experience to doctoral students.


Students are encouraged to attend diverse weekly seminars where they have the opportunity to meet with external speakers. PhD students also have the opportunity to attend overseas and national conferences where they are encouraged to present posters and network with key researchers in their field.

Teaching and learning

Research areas and structure

  • Cell science: angiogenesis; membrane trafficking; annexin biology; tight junction biology; cytoskeleton; cell signalling; leukocyte trafficking; chaperones; neurodegeneration; control of wound healing
  • Genetics and gene therapy: single gene and complex genetics of eye disease; genetic epidemiology; gene therapy for eye disease from experimental models to clinical trials
  • Multidisciplinary studies of disease: age-related macular degeneration; glaucoma; diabetes; retinitis pigmentosa; ocular scarring; neurodegeneration
  • Ocular immunology and allergy: applied ocular immunology; understanding basic mechanisms causing disease to identify novel therapeutic approaches; determining to what extent T-cells, eosinophils and mast cells damage the cornea and conjunctiva in allergic eye disease
  • Regenerative medicine: stem cell therapy for eye disease; transplantation strategies (corneal and retinal disease); optic nerve regeneration
  • Visual neuroscience: neurophysiology of central visual processing; imaging of retina and CNS; neuronal plasticity; evolutionary paradigms of vision; visual pigments.

Research environment

The Institute of Ophthalmology is a vibrant learning environment in which to carry out postgraduate research. Postgraduate students are supervised by internationally renowned experts with access to state-of-the-art laboratories. Our close contact with clinicians in Moorfields Eye Hospital allows for rapid translation of basic research to address clinically relevant eye diseases and disorders.

Postgraduate students at the Institute are fully integrated into university life at UCL and will benefit, academically and personally, from the services and facilities of the university’s Doctoral School, plus accessing social and sporting facilities through the UCL Union.

We believe that by learning from the best, you stand the best chance of going on to become future leaders in the field of vision research.

Thanks to our partnership with Moorfields Eye Hospital, you can learn from the clinical experts, study rare conditions and diseases, and observe pioneering treatments and trials that have an immediate impact on patients’ lives.

UCL Institute of Ophthalmology is part of the Faculty of Brain Sciences, whose core strengths are founded on interdisciplinary research, teaching, collaborations, and partnerships. Postgraduate students have access to Faculty resources such as careers workshops and the alumni community. According to the 2017 Centre for World University Rankings (CWUR) rankings by subject, UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences is the best place in the world to study ophthalmology.

As a student of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, your programme of research will be overseen by a Principal Supervisor with collaboration from a Subsidiary Supervisor.

Your progress will be monitored annually and UCL processes will be facilitated by a Graduate Tutor. You will be invited to join a Staff/Student Consultative Committee as your feedback is important to us.

Regular career development seminars and skills training sessions will be organised by the student body itself and you will be encouraged to take part.

You will be encouraged to attend a range of weekly seminars organised by academic staff at the Institute and on main campus.

You will also have access to the UCL Doctoral School's ongoing skills development programme.

The length of registration for the research degree programmes is 3 years for full-time and 5 years for part-time.

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 (full-time) after initial registration.

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. You will produce and submit a detailed outline of your proposed research to your supervisor for their comments and feedback. 

In the second year, you will be expected to upgrade from an MPhil to a PhD. To successfully upgrade to a PhD you are required to submit a written report/thesis, exact details should be agreed with your supervisor. You are also required to present and answer questions about this work to a panel consisting of your subsidiary supervisor and another member of the faculty who acts as an independent assessor.

The PhD programme is expected to be completed within three years for full-time students, and over five years for part-time students. You will be expected to submit a thesis and present and answer questions about your work to a panel consisting of an internal and external examiner.

If you are not ready to submit at the end of the third year, you may be able to go into CRS - Completing Research Student while you write up your thesis.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble 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

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

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.

Funding your studies

Several studentships are normally available each year. These are usually advertised on FindAPhD.

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

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: 2023-2024

Year of entry: 2022-2023

Got questions? Get in touch

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