Postgraduate study

Psychiatry

Awards: PhD, MScR

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: Psychiatry

Our Division of Psychiatry is internationally recognised as a world-class clinical research and teaching centre.

We focus on the mechanisms underlying the development of major psychiatric disorders, including autism, bipolar disorder, depression, dementia and schizophrenia.

Expertise and studies

We have a particular expertise in longitudinal, clinical and biological studies of large cohorts of people at high risk of psychotic disorders drawn from across Scotland. Our studies include:

  • the Edinburgh High Risk Study, which examines 200 young people at high genetic risk of schizophrenia over a period of ten years
  • the Edinburgh Study of Co-Morbidity, which examines teenagers at high cognitive risk for schizophrenia
  • the Bipolar Family Study, which examines over 200 young people at familial risk of bipolar disorder and controls

In psychiatric genetics, we take part in international genome wide association studies and focus on analyses of candidate genes including DISC-1, NDE-1 and DLG-2.

We also have a major focus on the functional genetics of psychiatric illness and have investigated the effects of variation in genes, such as DISC-1, on brain structure and function, as well as their programming during development in stem cell models.

We have demonstrated, for the first time, that structural and functional MRI changes precede the onset of psychosis and could be used as a diagnostic aid.

We have also demonstrated that imaging can be used to separate autism from learning disability in people of matched IQ.

We have made substantial progress in the discovery of genes, including DISC-1, associated with psychosis and have played a leading role in understanding how genetic variation alters brain structure and function and risk for mental illness.

Research methods

The principal methods used are state-of-the-art structural and functional imaging techniques and genetic studies. We are also involved in a number of clinical trials of novel therapeutic interventions.

Major conditions of interest

Our major interests (that straddle the disciplines of Neurology and Psychiatry) include:

  • Autism and learning disability (Andrew Stanfield)
  • Dementia prevention (Craig Ritchie)
  • Bipolar disorder and depression (Andrew McIntosh)
  • Schizophrenia (Stephen Lawrie, Mandy Johnstone)
  • Cognition and Behaviour (collaborations with the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology

We are also closely involved in two philanthropically funded Specialist Centres of Excellence:

Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences

The Division of Psychiatry is a part of the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences (CCBS) in the Edinburgh Medical School. CCBS integrates laboratory and clinical research to study the causes, consequences and treatment of major brain disorders.

Postgraduate students are mentored and supported by at least two supervisors and receive long-term guidance from their thesis committee.

We offer a transferable skills programme and project-specific courses, including opportunities to become involved in science communication and public engagement. In addition, the Division provides clinical case demonstrations and specialist seminars.

We offer well-characterised cohorts of patients and expertise in a wide variety of techniques to study biological aspects of psychiatric disorders.

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 three 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:

  • Postgraduate Advisor for Psychiatry, Professor Andrew McIntosh
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 537 6274
  • Email: andrew.mcintosh@ed.ac.uk
  • Division of Psychiatry
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Kennedy Tower, Royal Edinburgh Hospital
  • Edinburgh
  • EH10 5HF

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:

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

Further information

  • Postgraduate Advisor for Psychiatry, Professor Andrew McIntosh
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 537 6274
  • Email: andrew.mcintosh@ed.ac.uk
  • Division of Psychiatry
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Kennedy Tower, Royal Edinburgh Hospital
  • Edinburgh
  • EH10 5HF