Pathology MPhil/PhD

London, Bloomsbury

When you study a pathology research degree at the UCL Cancer Institute, you join a supportive and intellectually rigorous environment to develop your research skills, subject knowledge, and critical review abilities. Our excellent facilities, supervision and training opportunities prepare you for careers in academia, industry, business, biomedicine, and healthcare.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
£6,035
£3,015
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
£34,400
£17,200
Duration
3 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
February 2024
May 2024
October 2024
Applications accepted
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline and evidence of recent academic activities or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Students will also be required to take an aptitude test.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 3

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.

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


Pathology is one five research departments within the Cancer Institute. It covers research areas such the genetics and cell biology of sarcoma, thoracic and molecular pathology, computational cancer biology, hematopathology, gynaecologic pathology, digital pathology and gastrointestinal pathology.

You will develop your research hypothesis with your supervisors and work as part of their research team. You will be supported by a supervisory team including your principal supervisor, plus a thesis committee.

Your studies will benefit from two further specialist facilities. Our Pathology Core Facility offers a wide range of tissue-based and molecular services for UCL research scientists. We also offer access to pathology software packages to support the processing and analysis of whole genome sequencing data from cancer samples.

A core priority of our programme is developing your knowledge and skills. In addition to UCL's Doctoral Skills Programme, the Cancer Institute runs a compulsory first-year training programme that will improve your research skills and provide networking opportunities.

This Pathology PhD programme is based in London and is available on a full-time or part-time basis.

Who this course is for

We welcome high achieving students from all over the world who want to join our world-class centre to undertake their research in pathology. Students come from a wide range of backgrounds, including clinicians, scientists, computer scientists, data analysts and others interested in pathology research.

What this course will give you

  • A unique opportunity to work in a collaborative research environment that spans basic research, translational medicine, and clinical applications.
  • Close links with associated clinical trials facilities, experimental cancer medicine centre, biobanking facilities and associated partners and hospitals in London such as the Royal Free Hospital, UCLH, and Cancer Research UK and the Crick Institute.
  • Access to our Pathology Core Facility, which provides tissue-based and molecular services to UCL researchers, and a collection of software packages to support the processing and analysis of whole genome sequencing data from cancer samples.
  • Skills development, including bench and technical skills, critical evaluation of scientific literature, experimental planning and design, interpretation of data results, presentation / public speaking skills, time and project management, working within a team, working independently, and writing for various audiences.

The foundation of your career

Our excellent facilities, supervision and training opportunities prepare you for future careers in academia, industry, business, biomedicine, and healthcare.

Employability

Graduates go on to academic posts at institutions including universities around the world. Other career pathways include laboratory management, research, industry, clinical trials co-ordination, scientific writing and editing, sales and consulting.

Some go onto further medical training or clinical posts.

Networking

The programme is designed to give you networking opportunities throughout your period of study.

These include weekly internal divisional seminars, a fortnightly external speaker seminars and reception, and student poster sessions. You will also attend the annual Cancer Institute Conference, as well as national and international research conferences, and academic careers days.

After graduating, you will be able to join the institute's alumni network on LinkedIn.

Teaching and learning

Most of your research will be carried out independently. There will also be a series of training requirements that you will need to complete in the early stages of the programme.

All research students attend a training programme on lab skills from January to July of the first year. This covers:

  • Human Tissue Act and the Biobank
  • Tissue Preparation and Staining
  • Basics of Proteomics
  • Principles of Good Clinical Lab Practice
  • Clinical Trial Design and Regulation
  • In vivo Study Design and Regulation
  • Preclinical Radiotherapy
  • Single Cell Analysis.

Your first milestone will be to upgrade from MPhil to the PhD degree. For this, you will submit and present a report. In your final year, you submit a thesis covering your research and discuss this at a formal interview known as a viva examination.

Most of your time will be spent conducting independent research, alongside regular meetings with your supervisory team and completing your training requirements. We also encourage you to attend relevant research events at UCL and elsewhere.

Research areas and structure

  • Genetics and cell biology of sarcoma
  • Detection of cell-free tumour DNA
  • Cancer biomarkers

Research environment

UCL is a top-rated university in the UK for research strength in the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021). Our scientists have an international reputation for leading basic, translational, and clinical cancer research and the Cancer Institute is uniquely positioned to leverage the multidisciplinary nature of UCL by engaging a range of disciplines to transform research.

You will join a community of over 300 research scientists and 120 research students within the Cancer Institute. Our combination of fundamental research, clinical links with UCLH, and the Royal Free Hospitals, and collaborative links with the Crick Institute and Cancer Research UK, make the Cancer Institute an exciting environment for basic and translational research.

The Department of Pathology has a range of research groups, including:

  • Computational Cancer Biology
  • Thoracic and Molecular Pathology
  • Genetics and Cell Biology Sarcoma
  • Sarcoma Biology and Genomics
  • Hematopathology
  • Digital Pathology and Gastro-Intestinal Pathology.

Specialist facilities include our Pathology Core Facility, which provides tissue-based and molecular services to UCL research scientists, and pathology software packages to support the processing and analysis of whole genome sequencing data.

We are keen that you become part of the community and share your work by presenting and discussing your data and conclusions at research team meetings, Institute Research in Progress talks, the annual Cancer Institute conference and Research Student poster day. You will also be encouraged to present at relevant international conferences and, where appropriate, to contribute towards scientific publications in your field.

The duration of a full-time research degree is usually three to four years. You register initially for the MPhil degree.

Within three months of joining the programme, you will be expected to agree the basic structure of your research project with your supervisor, along with the appropriate research methods and a realistic plan of your work. You will produce and submit a detailed outline of your proposed research to your supervisor and thesis committee for comments and feedback.

You will then undertake this project as part of your supervisor’s research team. Training workshops at the Cancer Institute will run from January to October.

In your second year, you continue to explore your research hypothesis and to collect and analyse novel data. You will also be expected to upgrade from MPhil to PhD.

To complete your upgrade, you submit a report summarising your research to date, and present and answer questions about this work at a viva voce examination. You also present your research to the department at a Research in Progress seminar.

In your third year, you complete your data collection and analysis, and prepare your thesis. You will also be encouraged to present your findings at an international conference or annual Cancer Institute conference.

Following the third year, you may be eligible for a year of 'completing research status' to complete your thesis and to take your viva examination.

The duration of a part-time research degree is usually five years. You register initially for the MPhil degree.

Within five months of joining the programme, you are expected to agree the basic structure of your research project with your supervisor, along with an appropriate research method and a realistic plan of your work. You will produce and submit a detailed outline of your proposed research to your supervisor and thesis committee for comments and feedback.

You will then undertake this project as part of your supervisor’s research team. Training workshops at the Cancer Institute will run from January to October.

In your second and third years (18-36 months), you will continue to explore your research hypothesis and collect and analyse novel data. You will also be expected to upgrade from an MPhil to a PhD.

To complete your upgrade, you submit a report summarising your research to date, and then present and answer questions about this work at a viva voce examination. You also present your research to the department at a Research in Progress seminar.

In your fourth and fifth years, you complete your data collection and analysis, and prepare your thesis. You will also be encouraged to present your findings at an international conference or annual Cancer Institute conference.

Following the fifth year, you may be eligible to transfer to 'completing research status' for two years to complete your thesis writing and to undertake your viva examination.

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 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

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

Students receive a free printing allowance each year and pay for any additional printing (see details). You may also face additional expenses if you attend conferences. The cost depends on the location, exchange rates, and the price of travel and accommodation, but this may be between £200 and £500 per event, based on typical events / destinations attended by recent students. The Cancer Institute provides two competitive travel scholarships each year to support research students attending training workshops or international conferences.

If you are doing a wet lab project, there may be an Additional Fee Element (AFE, also known as bench fees). This is an additional annual cost related to consumables, equipment or materials based on your individual project. This is payable by your sponsor, or yourself, if self-funding. These additional costs depend on the project and will be the same for home and overseas students.

The Cancer Institute provides some competitive travel scholarships to support research students attending training workshops or international conferences.

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

Annual CR-UK funded clinical fellowships and non-clinical PhD studentships are available. Please check the Cancer Institute website for details. Other funded studentships will also be advertised on the Institute's website as they become available. Some of our students seek funding from their home country or cancer charities.

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

Your first steps are to find a supervisor and funding before applying. You should check both the UCL and the Cancer Institute's studentships to apply for specific projects with grants. You can also reach out directly to any potential supervisor, particularly if you have funding in place from another source. You can identify Principal Investigators via the Cancer Institute website and research them individually. If you need help, please see applying for graduate research study or contact the Admissions Tutor on ci.pgreducation@ucl.ac.uk.

You can apply at any time. However, there are three entry points over the year. Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements and supervisor availability, so discuss this with your supervisors.

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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