Opportunities - Foreign students

PhD Studentships

EU students

In general EU students are eligible for a fees-only grant - you will therefore need to have your own source of funding for covering living expenses. It is possible, but generally not practical, to hold down a part-time job while studying for a PhD.

EU citizens who have resided in the UK for 3 years are eligible for full UK studentships. Until recently, residency for the purposes of education did not count. However, the research councils have now changed their regulations (August 2005) such that EU students who have resided in the UK for undergraduate study will get a full PhD stipend.

Non-EU students

Obtaining funding for non-EU students is extremely difficult. If you are considering self-funding, you will need approximately £105,000 for a three-year PhD position to cover fees and living expenses. This consists of:
Tuition Fees: £20,250 per year (2013/14 rate - will increase each year)
Bench Fees (lab costs): £1,000 per year
Estimated Living Costs: £12,500 per year (minimum for a single person)

Information is available at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate-study/fees-funding/fees-expenses

New immigration rules apply as of 2009. See: UK Border Agency

You may find the following links useful for information on funding schemes for graduate students at UCL:

There are at least 4 major sources of funding:

  1. ORS studentships. See the UCL pages. This covers fees and may be held jointly with a GRS award, but it is unusual to be awarded both. The scheme is in any case extremely competitive.
  2. Graduate School Research Scholarships (GRS) See the UCL pages. This covers living costs and may be held jointly with an ORS award, but it is unusual to be awarded both. The scheme is in any case extremely competitive.
  3. Commonwealth Scholarships If you are from a commonwealth country (other than the UK!), there are Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships Plan (CSFP) studentships for which you could apply.

Details of all UCL scholarship schemes may be found at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/scholarships/graduate/overs-res/index

IMPORTANT! if you are intending to apply for a GRS/ORS scholarship, your UCL application must be received in the department by the start of February for admission the following October. As it can take several weeks for UCL Admissions Office to process applications it is suggested you submit your application to UCL Admissions Office NOT LATER THAN THE FIRST WEEK OF JANUARY. Applications received in the department after the start of February.

Will I get funding?

Probably not... The standard of competition for any of these sources of funding is extremely high. I can only support one application for funding a year and I must have evidence of a very high level of skills in both biology and computing. In other words, as well as a strong biology background, you must be able to write computer software (preferably in C or Perl) and be able to show me example code.

If you do get any funding, it is likely to be either the ORS or the GRS. It is extremely unusual to get both in the first year, although students are sometimes awarded the second scholarship in their second year. Consequently, even if you are successful, you should be prepared for significant expenditure or be sufficiently proactive to find funding from elsewhere.

To stand a chance of being funded, you should be in the top 1% of students in your country. Your results and references are critical.

If you are able to self-fund, then of course I am happy to talk to you. As a foreign student, this will be very expensive (see above).

What should I do now?

Since, on average during the autumn and winter, I get 3-4 applications a week from foreign students, I also need some criteria by which to decide whom to support in requesting funding. I am therefore asking all possible candidates to provide me with a detailed description of how they see the project developing. I need a 1-2 page document describing the problem and the proposed solution. You can use one of the suggested projects as a basis for this, or even better, come up with your own project which would fit into the remit of the type of research done in my group. Remember we are a Bioinformatics lab and have no facilities for 'wet' experimental work!

Given that these awards are given to the candidate on the basis purely on the quality of the applicant (and not the project), I think it important that the candidate has the ability to do whatever really interests him or her. The fact that a candidate has been able to suggest a project also strengthens the funding application considerably.

If you wish to proceed, you should send me a project description, as above, and apply to the University formally in the normal way, making it clear what source of funding you wish to apply for. A sensible time to get in contact with me and start the admissions procedure is generally around Christmas.

Other funding

Some other sources of funding, including visiting fellowships are listed here. Students from Pakistan may be able to obtain scholarships through the Pakistani Higher Education Commission

English Language Requirements

Details of UCL's English Language requirements can be found at: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate-study/application/taught/english-language.

Test scores are grouped into 'Standard', 'Good' and 'Advanced' for UCL admission purposes. The Department of Structural and Molecular Biology currently specifies a minimum of 'Standard'.

Masters Students

We do not teach a Bioinformatics Masters course at UCL, but have a joint programme with Birkbeck College.


We do not have money to support intern students. If you are able to fund yourself and have appropriate skills, we would be happy to consider having you visit the lab.

If you are an American student, you may be able to apply for funding through the Foundation for International Education.