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.

Royal Society of Biology logo

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

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

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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.


This course will not be running during the 2021/22 academic year. 

Register your interest to be contacted when a new date is announced.

Why you should attend

This short course combines state-of-the-art online material and interactive lectures (using the UCL Extend 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.

Further information

If you have any questions about the course you can email Professor Ian Zachary at i.zachary@ucl.ac.uk

General and booking enquiries can be sent to Alison Kelly at alison.kelly@ucl.ac.uk

Course team

Professor Ian Zachary, Course Director

Professor Ian Zachary, Course Director

Ian is a Group Leader in the Centre for Cardiometabolic and Vascular Science at UCL. He lectures and provides tutorials on angiogenesis in the heart and circulation, and teaches on the MSc in Clinical and Experimental Medicine. He has supervised PhD students, and laboratory-based projects for BSc and MSc students. Ian completed his PhD in Cell Biology at Imperial College London.

Dr Paul Frankel

Dr Paul Frankel

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 completed his post-doctoral work at the Institute of Cancer Research, UK, before moving to Ark Therapeutics LTD (a spin out from UCL). In 2012 Paul moved to Magnus Life Science LTD (a spin out from UCL), and in 2019 he moved to ICS.

Dr Marwa Mahmoud

Dr Marwa Mahmoud

Marwa is a research associate at the laboratory of Professor Ian Zachary, Centre for Cardiometabolic and Vascular Science, Division of Medicine, UCL. She's investigating the role of VEGF signalling family members in angiogenesis and cardiovascular development and function. She completed her degree in Human Genetics at UCL and her PhD in Cardiovascular Genetics at the Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University, under the supervision of Professor Helen Arthur. During her PhD she studied the function of members of the TGFbeta signalling family during vascular development in physiology and pathology, with particular emphasis on the genetic disorder, hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia. Following her PhD, she stayed on for her first postdoctoral position, where she continued studying TGFbeta signalling.

Dr Jigisha Patel

Dr Jigisha Patel

Jigisha has a B.Pharm and M.Pharm from University of Baroda, India, and a PhD in Clinical Pharmacology from UCL. During her PhD she studied the role of smooth muscle cell proliferation and endothelin pathway in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). 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 Jennifer Rohn - Lecturer, online material

Dr Jennifer Rohn - Lecturer, online material

Jennifer is a Group Leader in the Division of Medicine, UCL. She leads a laboratory research group at the Royal Free and is heavily involved in teaching the division's Applied Medical Sciences course as well as overseeing BSc projects in her lab. She was the Athena SWAN Lead for the Division of Medicine to renew the Silver Award. She received a BA in Biology from Oberlin College, USA and a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Washington, Seattle, USA. She joined UCL in 2007 and worked as a Wellcome Trust Fellow in the MRC lab for Molecular Cell Biology. Jennifer also spent a number of years in scientific publishing as a science writer. She's Founder and Chair of 'Science is Vital' and LabLit.com, and has published a number of books.

Roberta Perelli - Safety Demonstrator, online material

Roberta Perelli - Safety Demonstrator, online material

Roberta graduated in Biotechnologies with an MSc specialisation from the University of Padua, Italy. She completed an MSc in Forensic Science at London South Bank University. Prior to joining UCL she worked at the MRC, Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology Imperial College London as a lab and safety manager, managing the diagnostic laboratories including containment L3 facilities. She also worked in Forensic Science Analytical Chemistry department at LSBU and the University of Padua. She's qualified as a Level 1 Biosafety Practitioner (Institute of Safety, Technology & Research) and gained the NEBOSH Certificate in 2012. She's the lead safety adviser for the Division of Medicine, UCL.

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 Oct 2021, 14:35