Postgraduate study

Stem Cell Research

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: Stem Cell Research

Our role in the development of stem cell research began in the early 1990s, with researchers at the former Centre for Genome Research producing the subject’s early publications.

We grew into the first stem cell research institute in the UK, and this formed the basis of what is now a world-leading centre for multidisciplinary research in mammalian stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.

As a PhD student, you’ll study in a unique environment, thanks to our location within the MRC-funded Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine (SCRM). This unique cross-disciplinary initiative is aimed at studying the properties and behaviour of stem cells to develop new therapies.

Research groups within SCRM cover a diverse range of areas, exploring the possibilities offered by embryonic, fetal and adult tissue stem cells. Each group focuses on a highly specific aspect of research.

The themes we address include:

  • the properties of stem cells and their niches
  • control of stem cell self-renewal and differentiation in vitro and in vivo
  • the role of stem cells in the ageing process
  • the mechanisms underlying tissue degeneration and repair.

The Centre’s overarching goal is to harness this knowledge to develop new therapies. We attract highly committed and motivated students and reward them with an interdisciplinary research environment that fosters achievement at the highest levels.

Training within the Centre is provided through a series of structured seminars and literature reviews, in addition to the laboratory and scientific skills training imparted to students by their PIs.

Generic training in presentation skills, project management and writing skills is delivered through the University of Edinburgh's Institute of Academic Development (IAD):

Since 2011, SCRM has been housed in a spectacular, specially designed building that provides high quality research facilities, including:

  • a state of the art centralised cell culture facility for isolation and culture of primary and established cell lines including embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells
  • clinical-grade GMP cell culture facility
  • Specific Pathogen Free animal facility;
  • transgenic service covering derivation and provision of mouse embryonic stem cells, blastocyst injection, morula aggregation and production of defined genetic alterations
  • ultrasound micro-injection equipment
  • flow cytometry service consisting of cell sorters, MoFlo, FACS Jazz and FACS Aria II, operated by facility staff and analysers,and the LSR Fortessa and FACS Calibur that can be operated by users following mandatory training
  • histology
  • imaging facilities including standard compound microscopy, confocal, STED super-resolution, high-content and timelapse imaging
  • quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction
  • Fluidigm Biomark and CellPrep for single cell transcriptomics

Your colleagues will include members of the University’s College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine who can provide a clinical perspective and, as you’ll be located a stone’s throw from the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, you’ll also have access to hospital facilities and practising clinicians.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant subject. You should have some research experience and be able to demonstrate that you have a good understanding of the field you propose to study.

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 with at least 6.0 in each component
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 with at least 20 in each section
  • PTE(A): total 61 with at least 56 in each of the Communicative Skills scores
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper
  • 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:

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.

Most laboratories require a bench fee of up to £2,000 per year. This cost can be covered in Research Council studentships.

Find out more about tuition fees and studying costs:

  • Postgraduate Programme Administrator
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 9515
  • Email:
  • Graduate School of Biological Sciences
  • MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, SCRM Building
  • Edinburgh Bioquarter, 5 Little France Drive
  • Little France
  • Edinburgh
  • EH16 4UU

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.

To discuss your PhD proposal, you should identify potential supervisors from the School of Biological Sciences.

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

Further information

  • Postgraduate Programme Administrator
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 9515
  • Email:
  • Graduate School of Biological Sciences
  • MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, SCRM Building
  • Edinburgh Bioquarter, 5 Little France Drive
  • Little France
  • Edinburgh
  • EH16 4UU