Cell Signalling PhD/MRes

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Cell Signalling PhD/MRes
PhD: 3-4 years full-time.
MRes: 1 year full time.
Entry requirements
PhD: 2:1 (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject.
MRes: 2:2 (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject.
6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element) If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
September and February
University Park/ Medical School
Other requirements



The programme consists of a combination of research skills training provided by the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences Postgraduate Training Programme, together with supervised independent research, leading to completion of a PhD or a Masters by Research (MRes) thesis. 

You'll enjoy expert supervision, extensive training, leading-edge facilities, strong industrial links with major pharma companies and the opportunity to undertake short commercial placements. The school encourages students to present their own original research as abstracts and oral and/or poster communications within the school and at national and international scientific meetings. 

School members undertaking a research degree in cell signalling form part of the Cell Signalling Group. Their aim is to utilise the advances being made in molecular genetics and cell biology to study the regulation of cell signalling pathways in healthy and diseased human tissues. The major research themes within the group are:

  • Molecular Pharmacology and Cell Biology of Cell Surface Receptors: molecular pharmacology, regulation and signalling of G-protein-coupled receptors and tyrosine kinase-linked receptors.
  • 'Cross-Talk' Between Different Intracellular Pathways: synergistic interactions between G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs); interactions between GPCRs and tyrosine kinase receptors; cross-cascade signalling of proteins involved in gene transcription.
  • Single molecule analysis of ligand-receptor interactions using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy: research on the development of fluorescent ligands for GPCRs.
  • Use of bimolecular fluorescence complementation to investigate protein-protein interactions: investigation of receptor trafficking and receptor-effector interactions.


The school provides a rich environment for cross-disciplinary research with a wide range of laboratory facilities.

Cell Signalling 

  • Single photon and dual photon fluorescence correlation spectroscopy: these facilities allow the measurement of single ligand-receptor interactions in microdomains of single living cells using our unique range of fluorescent GPCR ligands. 
  • Molecular Devices Ultra 96-well confocal imaging plate reader for high content screening. This facility complements our existing Zeiss LSM confocal microscope facility and provides the means to image multiwell plates using confocal optics and quantitative imager analysis software.  

Other facilities 

  • Postgraduate students are provided with a portable computer for use during their period of study (to be returned on completion) 
  • There are wireless-networked facilities throughout most of the school
  • Postgraduate students have access to a research group common room where they can study with other members of the group
  • The school has a common room for use by all staff and students

Research support


Structured training and guidance are critical components of the postgraduate experience, with specific and generic training being provided. Policies, procedures and details of training provision are given to students in the form of a Postgraduate Handbook and as part of their induction programme.

The Medicine and Health Sciences (MHS) Faculty Postgraduate Training Programme consists of courses covering the research environment and management, statistics, presentation skills, etc. More clinically relevant courses include sessions on clinical trials and ethics. Students can select the courses most appropriate for their study and career. This training is complemented by a range of courses from the Graduate School and other providers, covering areas such as molecular biology, post-genomics and bioinformatics.

Postgraduate students in the school are also required to undergo relevant training in issues such as handling radioisotopes and laboratory safety. Specific, project-related practical and technical training for students is the responsibility of the student’s supervisors, who are also responsible for providing guidance in the design and execution of the research student’s experimental work.

Monitoring and support

Each postgraduate research student is normally supervised by at least two academic staff. Students meet with their supervisors on a regular basis, with the requirement of at least 10 meetings formally recorded per year. Continued progress is assessed through the submission of a report with oral examination after 9-12 months, and a second report in the form of a scientific publication after 24 months.

The school (represented by the Postgraduate Tutor and Head of School) has formal meetings with research students and their supervisors to ensure all aspects of training and supervision are appropriate. 

The School Early Researchers’ Committee, with postgraduate student representation, meets regularly to discuss training/ career development for both postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers.


A number of University support services exist to assist postgraduate students during their time at Nottingham and beyond. The Postgraduate Students' Association (PGSA) is also a particularly important source of support. 

Graduate School

The Graduate School supports all postgraduates and early career researchers at the University of Nottingham. 

We offer dedicated facilities, resources and development opportunities including training courses, seminars, paid placements, travel and mobility awards and public engagement opportunities. 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.

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

Find a supervisor

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 PhD/Mres are:


Fees and funding

Home/EU students

Funding opportunities 

MRes, PhD programme candidates will normally be expected to have at least a 2:1 degree. The School of Life Sciences offers the opportunity to study for an MRes or PhD. Medical graduates can, alternatively, register for a DM degree by research. The school offers both full-time and part-time courses. The normal duration for the full time courses is: MRes (1 year), PhD (3/4 years).

All studentships available in the school are advertised on our school website and Find a PhD

Home students

Research councils (MRC, BBSRC, and EPSRC), the Medical Charities (e.g., Wellcome Trust, British Heart Foundation) the University, and industry provide studentships covering tuition fees and subsistence. Research council studentships may be CASE awards, which are joint with an industrial partner. Students from Northern Ireland should also contact the Department of Education for Northern Ireland. 

EU students

Research council studentships may be taken up by EU citizens, but only tuition fees will normally be covered, unless certain eligibility criteria can be met. Studentships from industry, medical charities and the University vary, but will often cover tuition and subsistence. 

Please note, for EU students there may be some restrictions on the availability of funded positions. In addition, students may also be self-funded (see Fees above). EU citizens may also apply for scholarships in advance through their current University EU office. 

International students

Funding opportunities 

MRes, PhD programme candidates will normally be expected to have at least a 2:1 degree. The School of Life Sciences offers the opportunity to study for an MRes, MPhil, or PhD. Medical graduates can, alternatively, register for a DM degree by research. The school offers both full-time and part-time courses. The normal duration for the full time courses is: MRes (1 year), PhD (3/4 years).

All studentships available in the school are advertised on our school website and Find a PhD.

Many students may choose to finance their studies privately. However, if a student aims to obtain a scholarship, many Governments and Universities provide scholarships in order for international students to study in the UK. Awards are also available in about 100 countries via the British Council. Commonwealth citizens may apply for studentships to the Commonwealth Scholarship agency in their own country. In addition, scholarships are also available via the Overseas Research Students awards, and the University of Nottingham also offers a range of full and part scholarships (see below). The University International Office is available to help.

Travel prize

The school and the graduate school offers students financial support to attend national and international scientific meetings and conferences.



Average starting salary and career progression 

In 2017, 94.9% of postgraduates from the school who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £21,400 with the highest being £40,000.*

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

Career prospects and employability

Those who take up a postgraduate research opportunity with us will not only receive support in terms of close contact with supervisors and specific training related to your area of research, you will also benefit from dedicated careers advice from our Careers and Employability Service.

Our Careers and Employability Service offers a range of services including advice sessions, employer events, recruitment fairs and skills workshops – and once you have graduated, you will have access to the service for life.


Related courses and downloads

Cell Signalling PhD-MRes

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This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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