Cell Biology

Postgraduate research opportunities

Postgraduate opportunities cover a broad range of interdisciplinary research themes, many of which link with research in the Quantitative Biology, Biochemistry and Biotechnology.

The Institute provides a lively intellectual and social environment with strong connections to other Institutes within the School of Biological Sciences and associated research centres. At any one time there are about 50 PhD students and five research MSc students working within the Institute. About one half of these are from outside the UK.


The Institute receives funding for about seven PhD studentships per year from UK research councils. In addition there maybe funding for specific projects, which will be advertised on these web pages and by individual supervisors.

EU citizens who are not UK nationals are only eligible for the University fees element of these studentships unless they have been resident in the UK for at least three years. The Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology, which is part of the Institute for Cell Biology, runs a four year PhD programme funded by the Wellcome Trust.


The School of Biological Sciences is able to offer a small number of studentships to outstanding non-UK/EU students each year but students from outside the UK are encouraged to seek their own funding.

Further information regarding postgraduate study at the University of Edinburgh, including fee status of UK, EU and foreign students, research costs and other financial matters can be found in the University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Prospectus.

Learning process

PhD students are assigned a supervisor and a thesis committee but are encouraged to develop independent lines of enquiry. This provides the combination of support and independence required for postgraduate study.

Our PhD graduates are trained to carry out independent research with rigour and efficiency; to assess other research work critically; and to develop an in-depth knowledge of at least one area of contemporary cell and/or molecular biology.

They also acquire general, transferable skills to equip them for a career in modern science in academia or industry. The learning process is through a hands-on, laboratory-based project carried out alongside others engaged in similar activities.

Guided reading, one-to-one supervision, group seminars, and occasional short workshops, are all used. Progress is monitored by the supervisor and more formally by a thesis committee throughout the programme.

Career path

Many of our graduates move on to post-doctoral positions in the UK or abroad. Others find employment in industrial research laboratories, research institutes or in other training programmes like medicine or teaching.

For those who want to run their own research groups, the usual path is to carry out post-doctoral research for up to five years before taking a post at a university or research institute or being awarded an independent Research Fellowship.

Industrial employment may begin immediately after a PhD or at some later point. The career path within a company is likely to include significant management training.

How to apply

Further information on applying to do postgraduate research in Cell Biology is available from the School of Biological Sciences.


For application and administrative enquiries, please use the contact below.

Graduate School

  • School of Biological Sciences

Contact details



Mary Brück Building
The King's Buildings
Colin Maclaurin Road

Post Code


  • Monday to Friday
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