Medicine - Research

The School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences trains ~250 postgraduate research students undertaking PhD, MD and MPhil degrees in Cancer Research, Experimental Medicine, Public Health and Medical Education. Its diverse postgraduate student population comprises both basic and clinical scientists from across the globe engaged in wide-ranging research projects spanning the breadth of the School’s research portfolio from bioinformatics through molecular and cell biology to clinical trials.

Subject Summary
As a postgraduate student in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences you will join a vibrant research community addressing key global healthcare challenges. You will work closely with academic and postdoctoral staff as a central and highly-valued component of the School’s research programme, thereby contributing to key discoveries in disease mechanisms which are translated towards innovative prevention and therapeutic strategies which will ultimately improve quality of life and survival of patients. Direct translation of research findings from bench to bedside is facilitated by close collaborative interaction between clinical and basic research scientists as a hallmark of our research programme, allowing the direct translation of excellent science to clinical benefit.

Course structure
The School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences is dedicated to providing its postgraduate research students with a supportive environment to effectively promote their education, training and professional development. First year students enrol on a tailored training programme comprising a series of lectures, workshops and practical sessions focused on key research skills, including bioimaging, informatics, genomics, mass spectrometry, animal models and clinical trials. In addition, all students receive wide-ranging and ongoing training in generic and transferable skills, such as scientific writing, data analysis, presentation and critical appraisal, through dedicated communication courses and seminars. They also benefit from presentation of their research findings at major national and international conferences, which is an expectation of all postgraduate research students, and through regular interaction with the QUB Graduate School, whose specific function is to support postgraduate training, development and careers.

Students undertake their specific research project under the close guidance of an experienced principal supervisor with support from 1 or 2 co-supervisors as appropriate. All postgraduate research students are initially registered as ‘undifferentiated’ which means that they are required to complete a probationary period after which they are assessed for their suitability to undertake a postgraduate research degree during the differentiation process. Differentiation normally takes place at 9-12 months for full time students and 18-24 months for part time students. Each student is required to complete a literature review, give an oral presentation of their research within their Centre, and provide evidence of appropriate training and completion of their Postgraduate Development Plan. They are then interviewed by a differentiation panel, comprising 2 or 3 academic staff, who assess the students understanding of their project and progress, based on both their submitted paperwork and response to questions. Differentiated students are required to complete a similar Annual Progress Review process in each subsequent year of their research degree. The duration of a full-time PhD programme is normally 3-4 years. For completion of their doctoral qualification students are required to submit a thesis of their research of appropriate length and content (as advised by their supervisors) which will be assessed by oral examination conducted by an external and internal examiner.

Funded postgraduate research studentships are advertised on the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences website: . We will also consider applications from externally or self-funded students who should identify potential academic supervisors aligned with their research interests: Please note that we can only support projects which fit within the overall research strategy of the School and individual research focus of our academic staff.

Our academic staff welcome approaches from prospective students and are happy to develop research proposals of mutual interest. Often this process will involve an informal face-to-face meeting (in person or via teleconferencing) prior to an invitation to submit a formal application. If you have difficulty identifying or contacting an appropriate supervisor, please contact Professor AJ McKnight, Director of Postgraduate Research,, or the School Postgraduate Office,, who will be happy to help.

Students who meet the eligibility criteria for postgraduate research and are keen to propose their own research project should select ONE potential supervisor from our list of academic staff per application,, and send an email containing: (1) a brief CV (1-2 pages maximum), (2) a concise statement of motivation including research interests, (3) source of funding, and (4) intended start date. Our Faculty student recruitment hub will also be able to provide further information:

For students applying for a funded or competitively funded PhD, please provide a concise statement of motivation, including research interests and research experience as relevant to the studentship for which you are applying.

Entry requirements

The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School.

Application dates

How to Apply
Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

Enrolment dates

Entry Year: 2024/25

Post Course Info

Career Prospects
Employment after the Course
All postgraduate research students can avail of careers advice from the Graduate School whilst postdoctoral employment opportunities are highlighted at the annual School Postgraduate Research Forum within a dedicated session. Students should also discuss potential careers with their supervisors as a central focus of their individual Postgraduate Development Programme.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Doctoral at UK Level 8

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Part time,Daytime

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    Course provider