This programme brings together the skills and expertise of more than 30 internationally recognised molecular cell biologists who provide training in a broad range of cell biology, structural biology and in vivo topics and techniques; from analysing dynamic behaviour of cells in organisms to studies of intracellular behaviour and progression into single molecules and high-resolution electron microscopy. Training also covers the spectrum from the purest studies of fundamental cell biology through to direct and translational applications to human disease. Our aim is to train the next generation of researchers at the interface of structural and cell biology to help understand whole animal health and disease.

We are looking for talented and motivated students who are willing to take up the many varied challenges in molecular cell biology and are open to learning about new disciplines and working across different fields.

Visit the Dynamic Molecular Cell Biology webpages to read profiles of current students and find out more about the programme.

Programme structure

In your first year, you will have the opportunity to study a range of research topics with different supervisors and undertake three ten-week lab-based research projects:

  • Your first rotation will be in a cellular lab, where you will gain experience in cell culture and standard wide-field/confocal cell imaging alongside super-resolution imaging.
  • Your second will be in a disease/model organism lab to extend your skills into in vivo applied context and in techniques such as multiphoton imaging.
  • Your third will be in a molecular lab enabling you to become familiar with in vitro biochemical and biophysical methods.

Write-ups, posters and presentations on the three rotation projects are completed by the end of June. You will then select your full PhD laboratory and focus on your proposed research project before the second year starts.

You will join a single laboratory for the remaining years of your PhD. On occasions there may be collaborative projects between two participating labs. You will be integrated into the PhD programme of your host school, which will depend on your chosen topic. In general, these programmes involve submission of an end-of-year progress report to your departmental postgraduate progression panel and an afternoon of seminars presented by your year cohort in that school. You will also remain under the wing of the Dynamic Molecular Cell Biology programme itself, which has its own monitoring procedure.

Entry requirements

A first or upper second-class Honours degree or Master's degree in a biomedical or life science discipline.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Go to admissions statement

If English is not your first language, you will need to reach the requirements outlined in our profile level C.

Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Fees and funding

UK: full-time
£4,758 per year
Overseas: full-time
£26,000 per year

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to an 8% increase in fees each year.

More about tuition fees, living costs and financial support.

Bench fees

For postgraduate research students who are not funded by UK Research Councils or (specific) UK charities, it is usual to charge a bench fee. A bench fee covers the costs of laboratory consumables, specialist equipment and other relevant costs (such as training) for the duration of the programme. The bench fee charged can vary considerably depending on the nature of the programme being undertaken. Details of specific bench fee charges can be provided on request and will be made clear in the offer letter sent to applicants.

Alumni discount

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a 25% reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni discount.

Funding for 2024/25

This programme is fully funded by the Wellcome Trust. The trust provides funding to cover PhD programme fees at UK student rate, research expenses, a stipend for living expenses, contribution towards travel and also towards transferable-skills training. International students are welcome to apply. We are also able to fully fund one or two overseas fees in each cohort.

Further information on funding for prospective UK and international postgraduate students.

Career prospects

The majority of graduates go on to perform post-doctoral research in world-leading laboratories in the UK, Europe and the US. Amongst many other things, some students have taken graduate-level entry to study medicine, entered teacher training programmes, or trained to become patent lawyers.

Meet our supervisors

The following list shows potential supervisors for this programme. Visit their profiles for details of their research and expertise.


Research groups

Core research areas are:

  • multiprotein complexes in gene maintenance and expression;
  • dynamic organisation, regulation and re-modelling of the cytoskeleton;
  • molecular complexes involved in protein translocation and trafficking;
  • cell organisation, morphogenesis and tissue function;
  • cancer, neuroscience, infection and immunity, cardiovascular biology.

Group leaders:

  • Cellular
    • Professor Peter Cullen
    • Professor Anne Ridley
    • Professor Jonathan Hanley
    • Dr Jon Lane
    • Dr Bernadette Carroll
    • Professor Jan Frayne
    • Dr Adam Grieve
    • Dr Siang Boon Koh
    • Professor Ash Toye
  • Molecular
    • Professor Ian Collinson
    • Dr Anna Chambers
    • Professor Rafael Carazo Salas
    • Professor Mark Dillingham
    • Dr Mark Dodding
    • Professor Mark Szczelkun
    • Dr Alan Cheung
    • Dr Robin Corey
    • Dr Thom Sharp (from 2024 intake)
  • Disease/model organism
    • Dr Chrissy Hammond
    • Dr Borko Amulic
    • Dr Eugenia Piddini
    • Professor Alastair Poole
    • Dr Beck Richardson
    • Dr Helen Weavers
    • Professor Christoph Wuelfing
    • Dr Parthive Patel
    • Dr Bethan Lloyd-Lewis

Contact us