Structural and Molecular Biology MPhil/PhD

London, Bloomsbury

The UCL Research Department of Structural and Molecular Biology (SMB), within the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology (ISMB) conducts world-class research in the areas of modern biology, biotechnology and medicine, while providing a stimulating interdisciplinary postgraduate training and vibrant environment.

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
September 2022
Applications accepted
All applicants: 18 Oct 2021 – 31 Mar 2022

Applications open

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in biochemistry, cell biology, chemical biology, molecular biology, physics, chemistry or similar subjects from a UK university, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Our studentship places are limited and highly sought after; previous research experience would provide a competitive edge to prospective candidates.

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

The Department of Structural and Molecular Biology provides a leading-edge research environment, superb access to technical resources, and world-recognised research expertise in areas such as bacterial secretion, aging, signal transduction, protein folding, bioinformatics, drug metabolism and cellular protein trafficking. We use state-of-the-art facilities in X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, cryo-electron microscopy, imaging, biophysical and biochemical analysis, molecular and cell biology. 

Who this course is for

What this course will give you

The department pursues its research aims through high-level external research funding, excellent research facilities, up-to-date equipment and state-of-the-art technologies, coupled with the recruitment of high-calibre staff. SMB maintains industrial contacts and fosters collaborations with investigators from other prestigious UK and international institutions.

Our students particularly benefit from the links that SMB has with the Department of Biological Sciences at Birkbeck, University of London, the London Centre for Nanotechnology and the Frances Crick Institute.

In a well-supported mentoring environment we challenge every student to excel in their research and to develop transferable skills enhancing their career development. 

The foundation of your career

We place strong emphasis on high-quality student training, interdisciplinary approaches to research, and on providing students with a considerable range of opportunities to develop transferable skills. Our students are highly successful in obtaining research positions in academia and industry owing to the range of technical expertise that they develop, as well as their deep understanding of fundamental biological processes. They are also successful in gaining positions in other professions where, in addition to a scientific background, our students are able to offer presentation, communication, numerical and data analysis skills (e.g. clinical trials, knowledge transfer and teaching).

Employability

Our recent graduates have become researchers at leading UK universities and research centres including Cambridge, Oxford, UCL, King's College London, University of Manchester, the Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK; and highly reputable international academic institutions such as Cornell University, Yale, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and University of the Western Cape. Others have entered employment in the civil service and National Health Service, or have found senior roles in industry with companies such as Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis, Celltech and Genzyme.

Networking

SMB embodies a truly international environment as many of our academic and research staff have joined UCL following a career path through other world-recognised research centres. Projects frequently include collaboration with researchers in the UK and abroad and students are strongly encouraged to present their work at UK and international research conferences. We regularly host lectures by eminent scientists and students are able to interact with guest speakers over an informal lunch. ISMB research retreats and research symposia provide other opportunities for students to network and establish important contacts for their future research and career development.

Teaching and learning

While they do not contribute credits to the degree, students are required to undertake training in statistics, transferable skills, and skills appropriate to their studies provided by the Faculty or through the UCL Doctoral School.

Research areas and structure

The majority of research projects undertaken by our postgraduate students have a strong multi-disciplinary component. However, research activities within the department can broadly be grouped into the following research areas:

  • Bioinformatics
  • Molecular cell biology and metabolism
  • Molecular microbiology
  • Structural biology and molecular biophysics.

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.
 

 

Placement

All students funded by the BBSRC London Interdisciplinary Doctoral (LIDo) Programme need to undertake a 3 month placement as a part of their PhD. In order to develop a new set of skills and gain experience in a non-academic sector. The placement work cannot relate to a student's PhD research project. 

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 RRDBISSSMB01

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.

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

Students interested in carrying out postgraduate research under the mentorship of an SMB member of staff could gain funding and scholarships through several available routes. There are four-year PhD programmes funded by the MRC, BBSRC and NERC as well as BBSRC CASE (industrial collaboration) three- and four-year studentships. There may also be funding opportunities through individual research grants as well as through other programmes such as those offered by CoMPLEX.

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

Deadlines and start dates are usually dictated by funding arrangements so check with the department or academic unit 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.

We recommend that you submit your application as soon as possible. The programme may remain open if places are still available after 31 March 2022 and will be closed as soon as it is full or by 30 June 2022.

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.

This page was last updated 28 Sep 2021