Postgraduate study

Developmental Biology

Awards: PhD, MScR

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: Developmental Biology

Normal growth of an animal, from the fertilised egg through to end of life maturity, requires concerted action of all the genes found in the animal genome. Not all genes are active at any one stage or in any one cell type. Gene expression is dynamic yet programmed. Sometimes this programming goes awry and disease ensues. Research in the Division of Developmental Biology aims to characterise, understand and ultimately exploit the ever changing profile of gene expression found in mammals. This will allow the development of a better understanding of biology which in turn will enable new biotech, agricultural and biomedical advances to become reality.

We believe that a supported, active and innovative post-graduate student community is essential if we are to deliver our goals. This community represents the scientists, entrepreneurs, communicators and regulators of the future.

Research in the Division of Developmental Biology aims to enhance fundamental knowledge of the control of cellular growth and differentiation aiming to underpin the development of better disease intervention strategies.

We will advance our understanding of function in these essential biological processes through mechanistic studies at the cell, tissue and whole animal level with particular focus on:

  • animal biotechnology and stem cells
  • tissue and organ development
  • tissue damage and repair
  • regulatory networks in development

Within the Division of Developmental Biology we have 19 Group Leaders plus 2 Career Track Fellows who supervise about 30 students at any one time.

Studentships are of 3 or 4 years duration and students will be expected to complete a novel piece of research which will advance our understanding of the field. To help them in this goal, students will be assigned a principal and assistant supervisor, both of whom will be active scientists at the Institute. Student progress is monitored in accordance with School Postgraduate (PG) regulations by a PhD thesis committee (which includes an independent external assessor and chair). There is also dedicated secretarial support to assist these committees and the students with regard to University and Institute matters.

All student matters are overseen by the Schools PG studies committee. The Roslin Institute also has a local PG committee and will provide advice and support to students when requested. An active staff:student liaison committee and a social committee, which is headed by our postgraduate liaison officer, provide additional support.

Students are expected to attend a number of generic training courses offered by the Transkills Programme of the University and to participate in regular seminars and laboratory progress meetings. All students will also be expected to present their data at national and international meetings throughout their period of study.

In 2011 The Roslin Institute moved to a new state-of-the-art building on the University of Edinburgh's veterinary campus at Easter Bush. Our facilities include: rodent, bird and livestock animal units and associated lab areas; comprehensive bioinformatic and genomic capability; a range of bioimaging facilities; extensive molecular biology and cell biology labs; café and auditorium where we regularly host workshops and invited speakers.

The minimum entry requirement for our research programmes is an undergraduate degree, with an excellent or very good classification (equivalent to first or upper second class honours in the UK). For some non-UK applicants the entry requirement is a Masters degree. Please check the entry requirements by country.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your spoken and written English:

  • 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)

If you completed a CAE or CPE before January 2015 please contact the Admissions Office for the accepted grades.

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.

  • Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
  • Easter Bush Veterinary Centre
  • Roslin
  • Easter Bush
  • Edinburgh
  • EH25 9RG

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

  • Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
  • Easter Bush Veterinary Centre
  • Roslin
  • Easter Bush
  • Edinburgh
  • EH25 9RG