Postgraduate study

Stem Cell Research PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

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, light-sheet microscopy, 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

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

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

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 with at least 20 in each section

  • PTE Academic: 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

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, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, 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.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 22/03/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

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 £5,000 per year. This cost can be covered in Research Council studentships.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDStem Cell Research3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhDStem Cell Research6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

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