Short courses


Essential Lab Skills and Molecular Biology Techniques Workshop: from Theory to Bench

  • 25 hours teaching (plus 20 hours online self-paced learning)
  • 4 days, plus online element


During this practical four-day course you'll learn a wide range of techniques used in the laboratory and, in particular, a molecular biology lab - from cloning to cell biology.

Before the workshop, you'll receive online training in general lab skills, as well as an overview of molecular biology notions. This will prepare you for the practical workshop so you'll be ready to experiment at the bench.

You'll gain a certificate of attendance at the end of the course.

This course has been approved by the Royal Society of Biology for purposes of CPD (continuing professional development). 

Royal Society of Biology logo

You can claim 84 CPD credits on completing the course.

This course is run by UCL's Division of Medicine.

Watch a video about the course

Widget Placeholderhttps://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/9839

Who this course is for

This course is ideal if you need to carry out laboratory work but lack the confidence to do so due to a change in career or lack of recent time in the lab.

You should therefore attend this course if you:

  • are about to embark on a PhD and have limited lab experience - it's ideal for those starting an MBPhD
  • have recently changed roles/jobs and need to update your laboratory skills
  • are starting a lab-based project and want more experience
  • are about to embark on a career in the industry and need a crash course in molecular biology

Course content and structure

The course is divided into two parts - preparatory online learning, followed by the practical workshop in the lab.

Part 1

You'll use web-based online material to provide you with the appropriate theoretical background of the main techniques used in the course. You should expect to spend about 20 hours studying the online material.

Part 2

You'll then attend a four-day practical workshop in a teaching lab in UCL's Cruciform Building.

You'll study the biochemical basis behind the cloning techniques, and gain the basic lab skills needed for cloning and manipulating protein expression in mammalian cells.

You'll perform experiments under the supervision of experienced research lecturers and demonstrators.

Why you should attend

This short course combines state-of-the-art online material and interactive lectures (using the UCLeXtend platform) with a practical workshop in one of UCL's teaching labs.

It's the only course of its kind using both components - this maximises teaching efficiency and learning outcomes.

You'll be interacting with peers from a wide range of horizons, both geographically and professionally. You'll be able to network, create new professional relationships and learn from each others' skills.

Benefits to employers

This workshop is set to provide a warranty of excellence in laboratory techniques training, with participants becoming highly competent at the bench over the course of this program.

Future or current employers will be assured that participants have the base of knowledge required, along with the essential skills, to design and perform molecular biology experiments with confidence.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course you should be able to:

  • accurately, safely and appropriately use all the equipment regularly used in DNA manipulation, including balances, pipettes, electrophoresis and centrifuges
  • prepare chemical solution and reagents to the precision appropriate to the task
  • demonstrate knowledge of the biochemical basis underpinning the molecular biology techniques taught in the workshop
  • independently clone any gene into a plasmid vector (from RNA extraction, reverse transcription, polymerase chain reaction, ligation, bacterial transformation, to DNA extraction, DNA mapping and primer design)
  • transfect plasmids and silencing RNAs to over-express or knock down protein expression in a primary cell line, extract protein, assess and quantify expression using Western blotting
  • carry out molecular biology experiments and interpret the results, designing a strategy to circumvent potential failed experiments

Cost and concessions

The standard fee is £1,200.

A reduced fee of £1,050 is available to UCL staff and students - email the course administrator to get access to this discount.

If you want to pay by invoice or inter-departmental transfer please email the course administrator to book your place (don't book via the 'Book now' link).

Refund policy

You can cancel for a full refund within 7 days of booking the course.

After 7 days, and up to 15 days before the start of course, you can cancel and receive a refund of 85% of the fee paid.

If you cancel your place within 14 days of the start of the course, you're not entitled to a refund.

If you book the course within 14 days of the start date, and then want to cancel, you're not entitled to a refund.

Unforeseen circumstances

If the course has to be cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances, we'll endeavour to give you as much notice as possible and you'll receive a full refund for the course cost. We cannot, however, refund other incurred expenses, for example pre-purchased travel or accommodation. 


You'll receive a CPD certificate at the end of your course.

If you need this certificate reissued in the future, you'll need to pay a £15 administration fee.

Further information

If you have any questions about the course you can email Dr Paul Frankel at p.frankel@ucl.ac.uk

Booking enquiries should be sent to Sophie Oliver-Styller at s.oliver-styller@ucl.ac.uk

Course team

Dr Paul Frankel - course director

Dr Paul Frankel - course director

Paul is a Group Leader in the Institute of Cardiovascular Science (ICS), UCL. He completed his PhD in Molecular Cell Biology at City University of New York (Hunter College) in 1999. He did post-doctoral work at the Institute of Cancer Research in London before moving to Ark Therapeutics LTD in London. In 2012 Paul moved to UCL Division of Medicine as a Group leader. In 2019 Paul moved to ICS.

Ian Evans - lecturer / demonstrator

Ian Evans - lecturer / demonstrator

Ian is a Senior Research Associate in the Center of Cardiovascular Biology and Medicine, working on identifying novel signaling mechanisms that regulate angiogenesis. He graduated from Oxford Brookes University and subsequently studied for a PhD in Molecular Endocrinology at UCL. He was recently made a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, has supervised BSc, MSc and Phd students and runs an MSc module on the use of animal models in cardiovascular disease.

Dr Jigisha Patel

Dr Jigisha Patel

Jigisha has a B.Pharm and M.Pharm (1st class Hons) from M. S. University of Baroda, India, and a PhD in Clinical Pharmacology from UCL. During her PhD she studied role of smooth muscle cell proliferation and endothelin pathway in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). This also involved comparative effects of current and putative therapeutic agents. As a postdoctoral research associate, her work focuses on in-vitro and in-vivo models and the mechanistic basis underlying different therapeutic agents in PAH. She’s currently working on a Biomedical Research Council grant to investigate the role of circulating microvesicles in pulmonary hypertension and systemic sclerosis in patients to establish biomarkers of early disease and the impact of therapy on a broader range of markers of endothelial dysfunction and inflammation in PAH.

Dr Lei Shen

Dr Lei Shen

Lei obtained his Medical Bachelor degree at Nanjing Medical University in China, and his MSc in Clinical and Public Health Nutrition and PhD at UCL. During his PhD, his research focused on the microvasculature including adipokine secretion, angiogenesis, and vascular function in abdominal adipose tissue in morbidly obese and diabetic patients. He’s now a post-doctoral research associate in the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, UCL. His research involves investigating prostaglandin and prostacyclin effects on cAMP generation, cell proliferation, gene expression and vascular function of microvessels in pulmonary hypertension. He also routinely supervises BSc and MSc students’ lab training and final dissertation and is the primary tutor in the students’ practical of organ bath and blood pressure measurement in the Heart & Circulation module.

Roberta Perelli - lecturer, online material

Roberta Perelli - lecturer, online material

Roberta graduated in Biotechnologies with an MSc specialisation in medical biotechnologies from the University of Padua (Italy), subsequently completing an MSc in Forensic Science at the London South Bank University. Prior to joining UCL she worked for several years at Imperial College London, managing research and diagnostic laboratories including Containment Level 3 facilities. She previously worked as researcher at the MRC, the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology (Imperial College), the Forensic Science Analytical Chemistry department at LSBU and the University of Padua. She's qualified as a Level 1 Biosafety Practitioner (Institute of Safety in Technology and Research) and gained the NEBOSH Certificate with Merit in 2012. She's currently the lead safety adviser for the Division of Medicine.

Dr Steven Buckingham - lecturer, online material

Dr Steven Buckingham - lecturer, online material

Steven is a Senior Teaching Fellow at UCL. His first degree was in neurobiology and his doctorate is from Cambridge University. He's taught on many undergraduate courses and has tutored for colleges in Cambridge and Oxford Universities. He has an established track record in scientific research, with over 30 peer-reviewed publications.

Dr Jennifer Rohn - lecturer, online material

Dr Jennifer Rohn - lecturer, online material

Jenni is a group leader in the Division of Medicine at UCL. She teaches on many courses and has been involved in the development of a new BSc in Applied Medical Sciences at UCL. She received a BA in Biology from Oberlin College in 1990, and a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Washington, Seattle in 1996. She moved to London for post-doctoral scientific training and then to Amsterdam, Netherlands, for a stint in a start-up biotech.

Learner reviews

"The workshop held at UCL provided me with the confidence and understanding to complete molecular biology tasks associated with my research area independently. The expertise of the staff was a real strength of the workshop. I would recommend this course to any students looking for a comprehensive introduction to all things molecular biology!" [Benedict Reilly O'Donnell - PhD student]

"The course was very well organised. The timing of experiments was great. The teaching sessions were very well done, for someone like me with very little prior knowledge of molecular biology; I was able to follow and understood all that we were taught. The course was very hands on, so I was able to carry out all the experiments with my partner. The instructors were very helpful showing us how to do things, answering our questions, it was awesome. The handbook given was very helpful and I was able to do reading before each session. I was able to network during the workshop, especially during the breaks and lunch times. I will recommend the course to others." [Dr Abimbola Aiku - Lecturer, University of Ibadan (Nigeria)]

Course information last modified: 7 Aug 2019, 14:54