Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology MPhil/PhD

London, Bloomsbury

The UCL Research Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology (NPP) brings together scientists undertaking world-leading interdisciplinary research into the nervous system, from molecules and synapses to circuits and behaviour. The department has an outstanding academic reputation and its links with other universities and industry provide strong support for our postgraduate research students'¿ networking and employment prospects.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2022/23)
£5,690
£2,845
Overseas tuition fees (2022/23)
£27,750
£13,930
Duration
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 minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor’s degree from a UK university in a relevant discipline or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

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

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.

ATAS statement

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.

About this degree

Students joining NPP enter this outstanding postgraduate training environment. NPP brings together scientists working in world-leading interdisciplinary research specialities related to structure and function of single molecules, synaptic signalling in the nervous system, understanding of circuits in the brain underlying behaviour, pain and inflammation, metabolic disorders and the function of channels and transporters in cell membranes. Academic research in NPP is conducted at molecular, cellular, organismal and systems levels and may involve animal models of disease or studies in humans.

Who this course is for

What this course will give you

The department has a world-leading reputation for research in neuroscience, physiology and pharmacology, being ranked the highest in its sector in the Research Excellence Framework 2014. 

We live in a period of astonishing growth of understanding in the interrelated fields of Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology. There is a vital need for well-trained researchers in these fields in order to achieve advances in medicine so that society can face the challenges of illness in the future with confidence.

The foundation of your career

Postgraduate education at NPP provides an excellent scientific background accompanied by an impressive set of transferable skills, including analytical, presentation and communication skills. This, together with the outstanding reputation of UCL research in neuroscience, physiology and pharmacology and collaborative links with other major academic institutions and companies, provide numerous opportunities for our PhD students to find top science jobs in academia and industry. Additionally, NPP postgraduates have transferred the excellent skills acquired in NPP to the fields of consultancy, patent law, scientific publishing and teaching.

Employability

Recent graduates have taken up research positions in academia, including at UCL; Imperial College London; Oxford University; Queen Mary, University of London; University of California, Los Angeles; Kuwait University; Rockefeller University, New York; or within organisations such as the Max Planck Society, Cancer Research UK and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. Others are employed as senior scientists or medical writers within industry, as teachers or as editors with publishers.

Networking

NPP 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 regular meetings, where they informally discuss their research and invite speakers from different fields (academia, industry, consultancy companies, charities, publishers, etc) to gain insight on various career options. During the coronavirus these events have been organised online where possible. Students also give presentations at national and international meetings, which in most cases include networking events.

Teaching and learning

Research areas and structure

  • Cellular, molecular and structural neuroscience: synaptic transmission and ligand-gated ion channels; transporters; G-protein coupled receptors and signalling pathways; voltage- and calcium-gated ion channels
  • Systems and translational neuroscience: neuronal network behaviour; pain; in vivo patch electrophysiology; optogenetics
  • Intercellular signalling: inflammation; cardiovascular system.

Research environment

The Francis Crick Institute conducts cutting-edge biomedical research to improve our understanding of human health and disease. Its work is helping to understand why disease develops and to translate discoveries into new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, infections, and neurodegenerative diseases.

An independent organisation, the Crick’s founding partners are the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK, Wellcome, UCL (University College London), Imperial College London and King's College London.

At the heart of the Crick's philosophy is a commitment to carrying out the highest quality science, and providing the highest quality scientific training.

The Crick PhD programme, which is designed to attract the brightest scientific minds from around the world, presents a fabulous opportunity for highly motivated and exceptionally talented individuals to embark on their career in biomedical research. The Crick offers a stimulating and supportive training environment for students to carry our their PhD research project. Students are guided by their primary supervisor (a Crick research group leader) and their thesis committee, which comprises three academics

Full-time

Although Crick PhD students spend most of their time within their research group working on their PhD project, the three-four year PhD 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, the Crick 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 are also 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. In addition, all students give a 10 minute talk to the student community about their research project 3 months into their PhD and in their second year, and give an internal seminar during their third year, and present a research seminar at the end 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
The Crick hosts 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. Students have access to funding to allow them to present their work at national and international conferences, providing valuable exposure to the wider scientific community, and an exciting and important learning experience.

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. 

Accessibility

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.


Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2022/23) £5,690 £2,845
Tuition fees (2022/23) £27,750 £13,930

Route code RRDBISSNPP01

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

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 will include an AFE.

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

NPP is part of the Division of Biosciences where we have a MRC four-year programme; MRC CASE studentships, BBSRC four-year PhD, BBSRC CASE three- and four-year studentships; NERC; and others.

There may also be funding opportunities through individual research grants and Charity studentships as well as through other programmes such as those offered by CoMPLEX, UCL Excellence studentships.

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 may start at any time of the year, but typically start in September. Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit (contact listed below) to see if you need to consider these in your application preparation. In most cases you should identify and contact potential supervisors 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 in any application cycle.

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.

This page was last updated 28 Sep 2021