Postgraduate study

Integrative Physiology

Awards: PhD, MScR

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: Integrative Physiology

The Centre for Integrative Physiology (CIP) fosters research into fundamental mechanisms and pathways relevant to human function and disease.

CIP investigators exploit rapid advances in the enabling technologies available from genomics, proteomics, imaging, informatics, and in vivo analysis to understand the function of gene products at the cell, organ and whole-animal level.

Importantly, CIP investigators exploit the most appropriate model organisms/systems to investigate the key physiological question being posed: a delicate balance between high biomedical relevance (for example human, mouse, rat) and high genetic power (such as Drosophila and fish).

Three- and four-year research degrees

Three- and four-year studentships are offered. Postgraduate students carry out their studies within a research group under the supervision of an academic staff member (their 'first supervisor').

In addition, students are assigned a personal thesis committee comprising their supervisor and two other academic staff members, who provide advice and mentoring, and monitor progress.

In their first year, students have the opportunity of participating in relevant taught modules of a number of associated MSc courses (for example Developmental Cell Biology and Neuroinformatics). Students attend research seminars and the generic skills training programme provided by the Life Sciences Graduate Programme. Postgraduates also have the opportunity to act as demonstrators for undergraduate teaching.

Students are strongly encouraged to present their findings at national and international conferences and to publish their findings in international journals during their postgraduate training.

MSc by Research

Our MSc by Research is a full-time 1-year research project done under the supervision of a CIP Researcher. This programme has no taught component and is therefore only suitable for highly motivated students with a clear idea of their research interests and goals, with significant theoretical or practical knowledge of a chosen field. An MSc by full-time research provides an excellent training in laboratory research and a strong grounding for further study at the level of PhD. Initial enquires should be made directly to Dr. Paul Skehel.

MSc students will work full-time on their research project with the additional option of taking selected transferable skills courses. Each student will have two supervisors. After 3 months study a short presentation and report of completed and proposed work will be made to the supervisors, at which point progression from Diploma to full Masters will be considered. Students that demonstrate sufficient progress and aptitude will progress for a further 9 months full-time research after which a Dissertation will be presented and assessed for the award of MSc.

If you're interested in applying for the MSc by Research, please review the Research Profiles and recent publications from members of the CIP:

A preliminary email briefly outlining your research interests and identifying up to three potential supervisors from the CIP should be sent directly to Dr Paul Skehel. If appropriate, students will then be invited to submit a short 400-word general outline for a potential MSc project with specific supervisors. Applicants progressing to this point will then be guided to make a formal application on this page. Please note that the MSc by Research has additional programme costs of £5,000.

The core of the CIP occupies the newly refurbished Hugh Robson Building and has facilities for all aspects of modern molecular, cellular and systems biology.

Research is mainly funded by grants from the MRC, the BBSRC and industrial companies.

We currently have about 20 PhD students.

Applications are invited to complete a Masters by Research (MScR) in the laboratory of Dr Lyndsay Murray. The MSc by Research is a full-time 1-year research project. This programme has no taught component and is therefore only suitable for highly motivated students with a clear idea of their research interests and goals, with significant theoretical or practical knowledge of a chosen field. An MScR provides an excellent training in laboratory research and a strong grounding for further study at the level of PhD.

The Murray lab is focused on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie the childhood motor neuron disease Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). SMA is a devastating disorder which affects around 1:6000 live births. Affected children have a very poor prognosis. In the most severe cases, this disease is fatal before two years of age. The Murray lab predominantly uses mouse models of this disease to investigate defects in motor neurons, and apply this information to develop potential treatments.

Techniques include:

  • muscle dissection and immunofluorescence
  • confocal microscopy and neuromuscular junction imaging
  • NMJ morphological analysis and whole motor unit reconstruction
  • transgenic mouse maintenance, cross breeding, intramuscular injections and assessing outcome measures
  • PCR, q-RT-PCR, western blotting

Those interested should send a CV and covering letter by email to:

A scholarship is available to cover the fees associated with this research project, to the value of £6,000.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 (at least 20 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 61 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections; the "Enabling Skills" sections are not considered)
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than two and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Academic Technology Approval Scheme

If you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you may need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme clearance certificate in order to study this programme.

  • School of Biomedical Sciences
  • University of Edinburgh
  • 1 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JZ

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit two references with your application.

Before making your application, you must make contact with a potential supervisor to discuss your research proposal. Further information on making a research degree application can be found on the College website:

You will be formally interviewed (in person, by video-conferencing or Skype).

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of Biomedical Sciences
  • University of Edinburgh
  • 1 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JZ