Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Psychiatry PhD, MScR

Awards: PhD, MScR

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Psychiatry

My research project has taught me such a huge and diverse set of skills, I feel I will be able to rely on what I’ve learned during my PhD no matter where my career takes me, whether it is in academia or not.

Bérengère Digard PhD Psychiatry
Bérengère Digard               PhD Psychiatry

The Division of Psychiatry is internationally recognised for its research and teaching.

We focus on the mechanisms underlying the development of major psychiatric disorders, including:

  • autism and learning difficulties
  • bipolar disorder
  • depression and mood disorders
  • dementia
  • schizophrenia
  • cognition and behaviour

Research expertise

We have a particular expertise in longitudinal, clinical and biological studies of clinical and population-based cohort studies of people with or at high risk of mental disorders. The studies we have recruited or have worked on include:

  • Edinburgh High Risk Studies of young people at high genetic cognitive risk for schizophrenia
  • bipolar disorder and other related conditions
  • Generation Scotland - a family and population-based study of 24,000 individuals recruited from the general population of Scotland.
  • UK Biobank - a UK- and population-based study of more than half a million people from across England, Wales and Scotland

In psychiatric genetics, we take part in international genome-wide association studies of psychiatric disorders - including the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) and ENIGMA that seeks to identify the genetic causes of psychiatric disorders.

Our work then utilities the findings in order to identify the environmental risk factors and neurobiological mechanisms of mental disorders, using genetic factors as causal anchors.

Research methods

Our work relies on a number of genomic technologies, including:

  • genome-wide association studies (GWAS)
  • DNA sequencing
  • DNA methylation and expression analysis
  • proteomics
  • structural and functional neuroimaging

In collaboration with others, we also work on stem-cell, cultured tissue (including organoids) and in vivo models of psychiatric disorders and we are also involved in a number of clinical trials of novel interventions.

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.

The MScR and PhD programmes are 100% research-based. There are no compulsory taught components although you can enrol on relevant courses after discussion with your supervisor.

For the PhD, there are formal assessment points at 10 weeks and 1 year (or pro-rata for part-time students) as well as regular meetings with the supervisory team.

In the PhD, on top of the standard 3 year (full-time) or 6 year (part-time) studentship, an additional 1 year is permitted for you to complete writing-up your thesis.

As a postgraduate student, you will be mentored and supported by at least two supervisors and receive long-term guidance from your thesis committee.

There are many opportunities for you to attend seminars and take courses in a wide variety of transferable or specific research skills, including opportunities to become involved in science communication and public engagement.

You will join a diverse community of researchers and clinicians. PhD meetings and the annual Centre Away Days provide valuable opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration.

Many of our researchers are NHS consultant psychiatrists. With these direct clinical links we offer direct routes to well-characterised cohorts of patients.

We have expertise in a wide variety of techniques to study biological aspects of psychiatric disorders including:

  • neuroimaging
  • epidemiology
  • clinical research and trials
  • laboratory research

Our collaborating laboratories are fully equipped for molecular biology, protein biochemistry and cell biology research, including large-scale studies, for example molecular analyses of multiprotein complexes at the synapse.

Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences (CCBS) researchers use patient-derived (induced pluripotent) and human embryonic stem cells to model disease processes using confocal microscopy, electrophysiology, FACS and biochemistry.

Edinburgh Imaging

The Division of Psychiatry is part of Edinburgh Imaging, which provides state-of-the-art imaging for preclinical and clinical studies, including:

  • 1.5T research MR scanner
  • 3T MR scanner
  • 7T animal MR
  • image analysis suites including fMRI compatible EEG

Philanthropic hubs

Through our philanthropic hubs, we link with academics in different disciplines across the University and beyond, as well as with patients, families, charities and supporters. For more information visit:

A PhD in Psychiatry will provide an excellent springboard for a career in academic or clinical research into all aspects of the brain.

Most of our graduates go on to postdoctoral positions in top academic labs in Scotland and around the world, while others go on to complete clinical academic training.

Graduates who do not wish to pursue an academic career have found employment in industry, in managerial roles at universities, in science communication and public engagement and in charities, for example.

An MScR in Psychiatry will provide a solid foundation for a PhD or can be a standalone degree.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

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

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Additional costs

Application fee




Additional programme costs


Living costs

You will be responsible for covering living costs for the duration of your studies.

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDPsychiatry3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhDPsychiatry6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
MScRPsychiatry1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScRPsychiatry2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

A funded PhD project will generally cover:

  • modest living costs
  • tuition fees
  • additional funds for research consumables and travel

Amounts do vary so please check the provision carefully.

If you wish to do an MScR or a PhD project that is not already funded, it is your responsibility, in conjunction with your supervisor, to secure sufficient funds.

There are many funding opportunities available but securing a scholarship can take some time so please make funding applications well ahead of your intended start date.

Your supervisor is likely to be the best source of information about funding opportunities for your particular project.

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Division of Psychiatry
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Kennedy Tower, Royal Edinburgh Hospital
  • Edinburgh
  • EH10 5HF

There are no programme-wide deadlines. Deadlines for individual funded projects will be noted in each advertisement.

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

  • Division of Psychiatry
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Kennedy Tower, Royal Edinburgh Hospital
  • Edinburgh
  • EH10 5HF