PhDs and Doctoral Training Partnership programmes

Obtaining a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ph.D or DPhil) means achieving the highest globally-recognized postgraduate degree available in higher education.

Getting a PhD requires undertaking original and extensive research in a specialist field of study, typically (in the UK) over a period of three or four years. The research is written up into a thesis, which is then submitted to examiners; these will be experts in the field and there will typically be one from within your home institution and one external examiner.

Finally, the PhD candidate will present and defend their thesis in a 'viva voce' with the two examiners, who ultimately decide whether the PhD is awarded.


What's the difference between a 'standard' PhD and a Doctoral Training Programme?

Most PhDs are almost entirely research-based, with a very small amount of formal teaching. Students learn about their specialist field, and how to do research, through their supervisor or supervisors, by attending conferences, through hands-on experience and by self-directed study.

In contrast, Doctoral Training Centres / Doctoral Training Programmes typically provide teaching during the first year, alongside a number of short projects ('lab rotations').  This first year provides the groundwork for subsequently embarking on your main research project over years two, three and four.

How to find a neuroscience PhD position in the UK?

You will need to have a relevant undergraduate degree at 2:1 or above. Depending on a variety of factors you may be expected to also have a Master's, but this is not a universal or stipulated requirement. 

Having relevant experience, such as completion of an undergraduate summer lab placement, is advantageous.

Identifying a specific PhD will require searching for opportunities at Higher Education Institutions:


How to find a UK Doctoral Training Programme in neuroscience?

DTPs provide competition-funded PhD projects over 3.5-4 years to support early career research students.

If you know of programmes which offer neuroscience-related projects which are not listed here, please let us know at

Course Institution(s) Course length (years) Projects offered / research themes Deadline
SIDB PhD Programme
University of Edinburgh 3.5 Projects examining the biological mechanisms underlying autism The next round of projects will be advertised in November 2023 for the 2024 entry.

Wellcome Trust Translational Neuroscience PhD Programme
Wellcome TrustUniversity of Edinburgh

University of Edinburgh 4 The Translational Neuroscience programme is designed to appeal to students with an open mind about their future PhD project. You are exposed to a wide range of new ideas, technical approaches and research areas during year 1, which all feed into your PhD project development process. Midday, Monday 4th December 2023
EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Medical Imaging
(KCL) King's College London; Imperial College London 1 + 3 (MRes + PhD) Medical imaging including AI-enabled imaging; smart imaging probes; emerging imaging & affordable imaging. Applications open in November 2023 for 2024 intake.
Sainsbury Wellcome Centre PhD programme
University College London (Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour) 1 + 3 (MRes + PhD) Systems, theoretical & experimental neuroscience. Applications open in September 2023 for 2024 intake.
Oxford BBSRC Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP
University of Oxford; Pirbright Institute, Oxford Brookes University; Diamond Light Source; ISIS Neutron and Muon Source; STFC Central Laser Facility; Research Complex at Harwell 1 + 3 (MRes + PhD) Integrative animal & plant biology; mechanistic molecular and cellular biology; bioscience for food, industry & health; including crop science; animal health & welfare; synthetic biology; industrial biotechnology & the development of innovative approaches for drug discovery and pharmaceutical production.

Applications open in September 2023 for 2024 intake.

Manchester MRC DTP
University of Manchester 3.5 Early detection & diagnosis; understanding mechanisms of disease; therapeutic interventions; precision medicine; harnessing health data; materials & medicine. Check website for when 2023 intake applications open.
Manchester BBSRC DTP
University of Manchester 1 + 3 (MRes + PhD) Multidisciplinary challenges for students with backgrounds including bioscience, biomedical, mathematical & physical sciences. Check website for when 2023 intake applications open.
University of Bath; University of Bristol; Cardiff University; University of Exeter 3.5 Infection, immuny & repair; neuroscience & mental health; population health. Applications open in October 2023 for 2024 intake.
Kings MRC DTP studentships in biomedical science
(KCL) King's College London; Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust; King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust 3.5 (PhD) or 1+3 (Mres + PhD) Molecules, cells & the basis for disease; neurosciences, psychiatry & mental health; physiological medicine; imaging & biomedical engineering. Check website for when 2023 intake applications open.
Cambridge MRC DTP
University of Cambridge (Bambraham Institute) 3.5 Population & systems medicine; infections & immunity; molecular & cellular; neurosciences & mental health. Check website for when 2023 intake applications open.
South West Biosciences DTP
University of Bath; University of Bristol; Cardiff University; University of Exeter; Rothamsted Research; The Marine Biological Association; Plymouth Marine Laboratory; SETSquared Bristol; Swansea University; University of the West of England 1 + 3 (MRes + PhD) Biomolecular & biophysical studies; agriculture & the environment; animal behaviour & in vivo studies. Applications open in October 2023 for 2024 intake.
University of Aberdeen; University of Dundee; University of Edinburgh; University of St Andrews; University of Stirling; Scotish Universities Life Sciences Alliance; the James Hutton Institute; Cool Farm Alliance; Moredun Research Institute 4 Basic bioscience underpinning health (ageing); bioenergy & industrial biotechnology; food security and world-class bioscience. Check website for when 2023 intake applications open.
Imperial MRC DTP
Imperial College London 3.5 or 4.5 Informatics for health; experimental medicine; infection & antimicrobial resistance Check website for when 2023 intake applications open.
Edinburgh Wellcome PhD in Translational Neuroscience
University of Edinburgh 1 + 3 Translation neuroscience using experimental technology (e.g. cellular, regenerative, computational, genetic, animal models) & analytical tools to bridge the knowledge gap between the design, execution and interpretation of cellular/animal experiments & the challenges of experimental medicine. 2023 applications have now opened; deadline midday on Monday 5th December.
Cambridge BBSRC DTP
University of Cambridge 4 Understanding the rules of life; transformative technologies; bioscience for sustainable agriculture & food; bioscience for renewable sources & clean growth; bioscience for an integrated understanding of health. Check website for when 2023 intake applications open.
Nottingham BBSRC DTP
University of Nottingham 4 Agriculture & food security; bioscience for health; biotechnology Applications open in November 2023 for 2024 intake.
PhD in Molecular, Genetic, and Lifecourse Epidemiology
University of Bristol 1 + 3 We are training a new generation of scientists who can harness the benefits of an epidemiological approach in exciting and productive ways. Applications open in autumn of 2023 for 2024 intake.
MRC-Sackler PhD fellowships
King's College London (MRC Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders) 1 + 3 (MRes + PhD) Epilepsy; autism spectrum disorder; schizophrenia; common genetic mechanisms in neurodevelopmental disorders; understanding functional variation in neurodevelopmental disorders. Check website for when 2023 intake applications open.
Newcastle/Liverpool/Durham (NLD) BBSRC DTP
Newcastle University; University of Liverpool; Durham University 1 + 3 Agriculture & food security; bioscience for health; world-class underpinning bioscience; industrial biotechnology & bioenergy. Check website for when 2023 intake applications open.
MRC PhD DTP in Quantitative and Interdisciplinary approaches to biomedical science (QIBIOMED)
University of Dundee 1 + 3 (MRes + PhD) Development, stem cells & neurobiology; infection & disease; responses to cellular stress; big data & translation. Check website for when 2023 intake applications open.
Sussex Neuroscience 4-Year PhD Programme
University of Sussex 4 Cellular & molecular neuroscience; cognitive & behavioural neuroscience; circuits, systems & computational neuroscience; translational & clinical neuroscience. Check website for when 2023 intake applications open.
Oxford MRC DTP
Oxford University 4 Infection & immunology; neuroscience (incorporating psychology & psychiatry); cancer; population health, genomics & genes. Check website for when 2023 intake applications open.
BBSRC London Interdisciplinary Doctoral training PhD (LIDo)
Birkbeck University; (KCL) King's College London; London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; University of Greenwich; Queen Mary University; Royal Holloway University; Royal Vetinary College; University College London 4 Food security; industrial biotechnology & bioenergy; world-class bioscience; molecules, cells & organisms. Check website for when 2023 intake applications open.
Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP)
University of Birmingham; University of Leicester; University of Warwick; Harper Adams University; Aston University 4 Sustainable Agriculture & Food; Understanding the Rules of Life; Renewable Resources & Clean Growth; Integrated Understanding of Health Applications open in October 2023 for 2024 intake.
UCL-Birkbeck MRC DTP
Birkbeck University, University College London 1 + 3 Fundamental mechanisms of disease; experimental & personalised medicine; neuroscience & mental health; populations, people & data across the life course. Check website for when 2023 intake applications open.
Warwick MRC DTP
Warwick University 1 + 3 (MSc + PhD) Molecular, cellular & tissue dynamics; microbiology & infection; applied biomedical technologies; artificial intelligence & data science. Applications open in autumn of 2023 for 2043 intake.

Queen Mary University of London- University of Southampton MRC DTP

Queen Mary University of London, University of Southampton 1 + 3 (MRes + PhD) Cancer, neurological, inflammatory and infectious diseases, anti-microbial resistance and global health Applications open in November 2023.
University of Southampton MRC DTP
University of Southampton 1 + 3 (MRes + PhD) Immunity & Infection, Cancer Immunology,  Systems Neuroscience, Neurodegenerative disease,  Biofilms and Microbial Communities,  Biomedical parasitology, Methods and Analysis of Global Health Trends and Differentials, Population and Reproductive Health Communicable Disease Control Check website for when 2023 intake applications open.