UCL Graduate degrees


Molecular Cell Biology PhD

The Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology (LMCB) at UCL is a Medical Research Council funded institute dedicated to research aimed at understanding the molecular and cellular basis of cell behaviour relevant to human disease.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2021

Modes and duration

Full time: 4 years

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 9 November 2020
Close: 11 January 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:


The four-year Molecular Cell Biology PhD programme at the MRC LMCB provides a broad in-depth training in fundamental aspects of biomedical science. The programme provides students with the opportunity to carry out cutting edge research in an internationally competitive environment. First-year rotations through three different laboratories, a bespoke tutorial series and the potential for a ‘fourth rotation’ in either UCSF or Hokkaido University are some of the programme highlights.

Research areas

The programme offers research projects in areas including:

  • Cell Signalling/Transcription
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Membrane Trafficking
  • Growth Control
  • Developmental Biology
  • Neurobiology
  • Immunology
  • Human Disease
  • Clinical Session
More information can be found on the department website: Molecular Cell Biology PhD

About this degree

Additional costs

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.


Two MRC studentships (covering fees and stipend) are available. 

In addition to these fully funded positions applicants are also encouraged to apply for the programme with other funding sources. For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.

UCL Research Opportunity Scholarship

UK rate fees, a maintenance stipend, conference costs and professional development package (3 years)
Based on both academic merit and financial need

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


Recent graduates have secured positions as research fellows and postdoctoral researchers at leading UK universities including Cambridge and UCL and at overseas organisations such as Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center, USA and the Agency for Science Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. Graduates of the programme have also established careers within the scientific technology and pharmaceutical industries.


Throughout the course of the PhD programme students gain a wide range of employability skills, these include but are not limited to, training in presentation skills, computer literacy, reading and analysis of scientific papers, team working, committee membership, event organisation (including outreach events) and cutting edge microscopy training. 


Programme students in their first year share tutorials, practical courses and informal discussion meetings. They also join the wider cohort of LMCB graduate students that influences all aspects of LMCB strategy, outreach and social activities. First-year students attend the annual meeting of the British Society for Cell Biology/Developmental Biology and have the opportunity of a 10 week laboratory placement in either UCSF or Hokkaido University.    

Why study this degree at UCL?

The goals of our training are to produce scientists who have explored one area and one level of analysis in great depth, but who are familiar with the full scope of molecular and cell biology. They should be able to move from one level to another in a critical and creative manner. We also try to develop an appreciation for translational research that bears on human disease.    

Graduate students spend four years in the programme and are entirely supported by an MRC grant. During their first year, students have a free choice of three laboratories from the groups within the LMCB, and spend three months in each, working on research projects. They also have the opportunity of a ‘fourth’ rotation in either UCSF or Hokkaido University.

Students also participate in twice-weekly tutorials that are designed to broaden their understanding of molecular cell biology, developmental biology, neurobiology, immunology and the cell biology of disease.

Towards the end of their first year, students select a supervisor and lab in which they will carry out their three-year thesis project. Overall our programme is designed to offer training in fundamental aspects of molecular and cell biology, and to provide an opportunity to carry out cutting-edge research in a vibrant and internationally competitive environment.

Department: Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology

What our students and staff say

Staff review

"I enjoy the continual interaction with people of a high intellectual calibre from many different disciplines. At UCL one is in the centre of things"

Dr Jonathan Chubb


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
11 January 2021

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.

Page last modified on 28 August 2021