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.
Modes and duration
Tuition fees (2021/22)
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.
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.
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 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.
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:
- Molecular cell biology and metabolism
- Molecular microbiology
- Structural biology and molecular biophysics.
About this degree
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.
Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.
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.
Students are required to accumulate at least an average of 20 training points per year. These are obtained via training courses and through development of transferable skills from demonstrating on practicals, attending seminars, conferences and retreats.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Why study this degree at UCL?
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.
Department: Structural & Molecular Biology
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.
- All applicants
- 30 July 2021
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.
For more information see our Applications page.Apply now
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