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phd in immunology uk

Last Updated on April 18, 2022 by Team College Learners

Research profile

Immunology and Infection Research has a proud tradition here at the School of Biological Sciences. As a researcher, you’ll be following in the footsteps of Nobel Prize winners – from malaria pioneer Sir Ronald Ross to the 2001 laureate Sir Paul Nurse – and other great names who have made ground-breaking discoveries over the years.

Our leadership in infectious disease research has emerged alongside the School’s strength in population biology and quantitative genetics. Our close association with biologists in these areas can be a valuable asset to your work.

Our institute has more than 20 research group leaders, including seven professors. While genetics is a core discipline, our work extends over molecular and cell biology, immunology, evolutionary biology and epidemiology.


We cover a number of overlapping themes of study.

In fundamental immunology, we look at how B and T lymphocytes interact and develop in response to antigen challenge, and how responses are initiated by dendritic cells and dampened by regulatory cells.

Helminth, allergy and wound repair models are used to understand immune responses in both practical and evolutionary terms.

Immune regulation of disease projects aims to design immunological interventions to ameliorate pathology or to enhance host immunity, in conjunction with new vaccines against parasites and therapies for autoimmunity.

Work on molecular biology and genetics of parasites focuses on the identification of vaccine candidates and virulence factors in malaria parasites, the cell biology of trypanosomes and proteomics and transcriptomics of helminth worm parasites.

In molecular microbiology, we look at how microRNAs regulate immune signalling and how pathogens manipulate these processes. Host-pathogen population biology integrates conventional immunology, pathogen research and systems-level quantitative biology, using mathematical approaches in both experimental models and the epidemiology of human and animal infections.

Training and support

Specialised training is available for those working with animals, pathogens, genetically manipulated organisms, and radioactive substances as well as in the use of flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. A programme of transferable skills courses facilitates broader professional development.

Within the Institute students attend seminars and the weekly Immunology Journal Club. Students also attend city-wide meetings of the Edinburgh Immunology Group which includes a student-only discussion with external invited speakers.

Supervisors are an important source of support for our PhD students. You can identify potential supervisors from the School of Biological Sciences website and discuss your PhD proposal with them.


The Institute of Immunology & Infection Research offers comprehensive facilities, including tissue-culture facilities, state-of-the-art 17-colour flow cytometry and five-dimensional confocal microscopy, as well as equipment such as fast protein liquid chromatography, phosphorimaging and real-time polymerase chain reaction.

There is also ready access to molecular technologies such as automated DNA sequencing, DNA arrays and mass spectrometry on the King’s Buildings campus.

Entry requirements

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

For 2020 entry 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 (including Special Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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.

For 2021 entry we will 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 (including Special Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each section.We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.

*(Revised 21 February 2020 to remove PTE Academic from 2021 entry requirements. Revised 21 April 2020 to include TOEFL-iBT Special Home Edition in 2020 and 2021 entry requirements.)

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.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Fees and costs

Research costs may be charged in addition to fees, though these are covered by Research Council studentships.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhD3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhD6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Scholarships and funding

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:

PhD Infection and Immunity

A PhD in Infection and Immunity offers an opportunity to work with world class scientists and to develop your skills as an independent researcher.

Image shows gloved hand holding up PCR tube containing sample

We offer a wide range of projects across the fields of infectious diseases, virology and immunology. A strength of the Division is its position at the interface between basic research and clinical medicine, fostered by UCL Partners, a consortium that links UCL with major hospital trusts in the area. Through our PhD programme we aim to:

  • Teach students how to conduct world-leading research in infection and immunity
  • Prepare them to become independent researchers
  • Foster interdisciplinary research

UCL is a world leading university and a dynamic and exciting environment for your studies. The Division offers research training of the highest standard with the aim of forming the future leaders in the field. Our Principal Investigators are internationally recognised leaders in infection and immunity, providing students with a unique opportunity for networking and furthering their careers.

Key information and entry

Full-time: 3-4 Years
Part-time: 5 Years

Optional qualifications
This degree is also available as a MPhil.

Entry requirements
Please refer to the UCL Graduate Degrees Entry requirements webpage to see if you have the necessary qualifications to apply to study for a research degree.

Students must have obtained a First Class degree or equivalent from a good Institution. Candidates with an Upper Second class (2:1) degree or equivalent can also apply but in this case the standing of the Institution awarding the degree will carry more weight, along with A-level (or equivalent) results. Please note: for research degree study in our Division it is not necessary to have completed an MSc first. Previous research experience will be taken into account.

Overseas students should visit the UCL International Students website for guidance on academic degree equivalence. Overseas students must also demonstrate English language proficiency and meet UCL’s English language requirements. For further information visit the UCL Prospective Students Graduate Research Degrees website.


Our PhD programme focuses on:

  • Infection, which includes a strong virology community, both basic and translational (HIV-1, retroviruses, herpesviruses, hepatitis B and C viruses), and clinically oriented research in bacteriology (mycobacterium tuberculosis)
  • Immunology, which includes T cell development and function, aging, innate immunity, host responses to infection, and autoimmune diseases (diabetes)
  • Leukaemia and gene therapy approaches to treat cancer.

Principle research areasProjects and supervisorsSeminars and events

Fees and funding

There are a number of PhD Funding Schemes available via UCL. For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, visit the UCL Scholarships and Funding website. Overseas students (non-EEA nationals) must obtain independent funding that covers tuition fees for 3 years, subject to yearly increments, and living expenses. Funds to cover consumables for research are desirable but may not be necessary.

You must inform your prospective supervisor how you propose to fund your studies. If at this stage you have not secured funding, please indicate where you intend to seek funding from. It is essential you know exactly what costs are involved with studying a research degree.  The basic costs can be broken down into:

  • Student fees
  • Materials/ research costs
  • Living costs.

For further details regarding fees visit the UCL Graduate Research Degrees website.


We are currently unable to offer studentships. However, we welcome applications from individuals who have secured, or intend to apply for their own studentship. However, you will be able to do a PhD in the Division of Infection and Immunity by applying to the following PhD funding schemes:General PhD funding schemesSchemes for clinicians

It is important to ensure that our students work in the most suitable research group and supervisor. Prospective students should look at our PhD Projects and supervisors list to decide which group topic you have the most interest and expertise in, and the investigator who subsequently you will nominate as your principal supervisor. Once you have discussed your plans with your prospective supervisor and you have both agreed that you should apply to study in their group, you will need to apply to UCL Admissions for a formal letter of offer to study. Please refer to the UCL Graduate Degrees Applying and entry webpage for further guidance and to apply online.

To apply, students must use the online Portico system choosing ‘Faculty of Medical Sciences’, followed by ‘Division of Infection and Immunity research degree’. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed either in person or via Skype. Alternatively you can apply directly to the aforementioned PhD Funding schemes and if offered a scholarship you will be able to register with the Division of Infection and Immunity. If you would like to discuss your options, in person, regarding PhD applications, potential projects or supervisors please contact Biljana Nikolic to arrange a visit to the Division.


Recent graduates have secured postdoctoral positions in universities or research institutions in the UK, Europe, the US and Middle East. Others work in research and development for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies or in scientific journalism, patent law, health consultancy and managementCareer development advice will be provided throughout the PhD by supervisors and thesis committees. Our Postgraduate Club host meetings with senior faculty members who provide advice on career progression. In addition, the Club hosts informal talks and meetings with senior individuals working in industry, biotech, scientific writing and entrepreneurs.

UCL has a dedicated Careers office that offers advice on various aspects of the career progression, including preparation for job interviews and self-promotion. For further information visit the UCL Careers website. Through its Professional Development Programme, UCL offers a vast choice of targeted courses for skills training, including communication skills, writing grant proposals, assertiveness, ethics etc. For further information visit the UCL Professional Development Programme website.

In addition to the social events organised by the Division, UCL offers a wide choice of leisure and social activities, including many clubs and societies and sporting facilities. For further information visit the UCL Study Abroad Guide: Life at UCL website. The Division has been awarded a Silver Athena Swan Award and is committed to supporting diversity in science.

Research overview

Masters by Research (MRes) programmes allow students to undertake a substantial amount of independent research while gaining 20 credits of transferable skills training.

Given the broad range of interests of the academic staff, it is possible to conduct a research project in most areas of immunology. The project should be developed in discussion with the identified academic supervisor/s.

The programmes are flexible in nature and allow students to take some additional accredited taught credits, in consultation with their supervisor.

Research facilities

The Inflammation Research Group laboratories are based in the Life Sciences Building. We have state-of-the-art facilities for tissue culture, flow cytometry, high-throughput immunoassay and intracellular signalling studies which enable both basic and translational research at the cellular and molecular levels in a number of key inflammatory disorders.  

Current areas of interest for the groups PI’s (Fairclough, Tighe and Todd) include: Immune modulation due  to cigarette smoke, in relation to COPD, and biomarker exploration in allergic Asthma; Innate immune dysfunction in the rare autoinflammnatory syndromes, especially TNF receptor-associate periodic syndrome (TRAPS) and studies of immune system malfunctions  with regard to improved diagnosis of common variable Immunodeficiencies.

For a full list of our funded PhDs please visit

Graduate School

The Graduate School supports all postgraduates and early career researchers at the University, with dedicated study spaces, training courses and placement opportunities.


As for all postgraduate research (PGR) students, the first source of research support is the academic supervisor/s. Within the School, Postgraduate advisors and administrative staff are available to assist further. PGR students attend school and group seminars presented by external and internal speakers, and will be able to develop their own communication and presentation skills associated with local, national and international meetings.

A number of University support servies exist to assist you during your time at Nottingham and beyond.

Medicine and health sciences graduate centre

The Medicine and Health Sciences Graduate Centre is a hub for postgraduate and research only staff networking and aims to promote a sense of community and enhance the research environment.

Facilities include:

  • study and social space 
  • networked computers
  • a bookable seminar room
  • kitchen facilities
  • a programme of social events

Researchers in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences also have access to a dedicated training programme delivered by academics and researchers from the faculty or by researcher development professionals from the Graduate School and other professional services. It provides a broad and comprehensive range of research training courses, in line with the requirements set out by the UK Research Councils.

Student services

The University provides a range of support and information to enhance your student experience.

You will have access to:

  • academic and disability support
  • childcare services
  • counselling service
  • financial support
  • visa and immigration advice
  • welfare support

English language courses

Our Centre for English Language Education offers presessional English courses to help develop your English and study skills.

The centre is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK, so you can be sure that the teaching and facilities are high-quality. You can also access free English language support alongside your academic course.

Students’ Union

University of Nottingham Students’ Union represents all students. You can join the Postgraduate Students’ Network or speak to the dedicated Postgraduate Officer.

There are also a range of support networks, including groups for:

  • international students
  • black and minority ethnic students
  • women
  • students with disabilities
  • LGBT+ students

SU Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice on issues such as accommodation, financial and academic difficulties.

Researcher training and development

The Graduate School training and development programme empowers postgraduate students and early career research staff to develop the skills required in their research and future careers.

Expert supervision

We encourage you to get in touch with a member of academic staff about your research proposal before submitting an application. They may be able to help you with your proposal and offer support to find funding opportunities in your area. Supervisors for this MRes are:

For a full list of our funded PhD’s please visit

Careers and professional development


Average starting salary and career progression

94.9% of postgraduates from the School of Life Sciences secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £21,400 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £40,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates who were available for employment, 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Careers support and advice

Whether you are considering a career within or outside academia, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

You can access our Careers and Employability Service during your studies and after you graduate.

Expert staff will work with you to explore PhD career options and apply for vacancies, develop your interview skills and meet employers. You can book a one-to-one appointment, take an online course or attend a workshop.

Fees and funding

Additional costs

As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, such as printing and lab equipment, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses. You should be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies or more specific titles. 

The school contributes to some costs relating to conference attendance and job market activity and may make a contribution towards research expenses. Full costs of your course will vary depending on the nature of your research project, for example there may be additional costs for projects which require travel. 

Funding opportunities

At least 20 PhD students are recruited annually, 10-12 of which are fully funded by MRC, BBSRC, EU and industry. These are usually advertised in January/February on the University of Nottingham Human Resources site.

The school often has scholarships available. These will be advertised on the school’s website and the University of Nottingham’s vacancies website.

The University Graduate School operates two schemes of its own to help support current postgraduate research. The Graduate School Travel Prize and Universitas21 funding. See information on how to fund your research, including our step-by-step guide.

Postgraduate funding

There are different ways to fund your research degree, from subject scholarships to government loans – explore postgraduate funding.

UK government loan

PhD students from England and the EU could qualify for a postgraduate doctoral loan of up to £26,445.

EU and international students

We offer research scholarships for EU and international students.

For information on specific funding opportunities and entry requirements, see our webpage for students from your country.

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