A warm welcome from the UCL Doctoral School to research students starting in September


The UCL Doctoral School is here to support and guide you through your journey as part of our world-leading research community!

doctoral students at UCL

You are about to embark on an extraordinary journey, joining a vibrant community of around 6,000 research students and over 6,000 academic and research staff involved in research and supervision across our 11 faculties. UCL is a centre of innovative cross-disciplinary research, and has academic staff with some of the strongest backgrounds in their specialist fields in the world. You, our research students, play a vital part in this stimulating environment, and our ground-breaking research could not continue without your contributions.

This year brings the additional challenge of research study with the effects of the global pandemic; however, we‘d like to reassure you that UCL is committed to maintaining supervision and teaching of the highest quality, and, as London‘s global university, we are looking forward to supporting you safely on campus as well as virtually. We have innovated new ways of studying, collaborating and doing research these past few months and we hope to retain the best of the virtual world as move into the ‘new normal’.


Undertaking a research degree is a very different experience to taught courses at both an undergraduate and postgraduate level with which you are familiar, or your recent professional environment if that’s where you are coming from. It will challenge you in new ways, but we also hope it will bring you novel rewards. Your research degree is a unique chance to develop and lead your own project and to generate new knowledge which you will learn to critique, contextualise, and ultimately defend at examination. There are many people within UCL to help you on this journey, not only within your Department or Division/Institute, but also within Central support services, of which the Doctoral School is one of many. In particular, your supervisory team will assist, question, support, and challenge you: they will help you develop as an independent thinker.

During your research programme, you will produce a research proposal which will frame your research question. Eventually you will produce a thesis which documents your original ideas about your focused topic, the methods you have chosen, the evidence to support your ideas, and the discussion and conclusions that arise; all of which will be considered within the context of current and past developments, and finally be defended during an oral examination (viva).

At UCL we are committed to equipping you with the research skills and experience not just to excel in academia, but also in a range of other careers which require originality, rigour, and methodological reasoning. We want you to become ‘creative, critical, autonomous intellectual risk takers’. You will be given numerous opportunities to develop these skills through your research work but also through activities within your Department, including courses, conferences, seminars, and teaching. We encourage students to look beyond the boundaries of their chosen discipline, and to broaden and share their knowledge via UCL‘s many networks, societies, and competitions.

Quick-start resources

Doctoral Skills Development Programme
offers an extensive catalogue of courses available for free via UCL's Organisational Development team.

Research Student Log
this online tool helps you manage your research project as well as monitor your skills and training progress, applicable to both the academic and non-academic worlds.

Introduction to Skills Development and the Research Student Log
upcoming training dates:
13 October 10:00 – 11:30
15 October 14:00 – 15:30

Code of Practice for Research Degrees
this document set out the standards you can expect from UCL. We are committed to ensuring you receive the highest quality, internationally-renowned research training within a positive and supportive research environment.

Doctoral School Handbook
outlines the support, activities and events available to you as a research student at UCL.

Doctoral School Website
regularly updated with information on policies, resources, competitions, societies, and other research activities available at UCL.

Welcome/Induction Events

These events are open to all research students (MPhil/PhD, Prof Doctorates, MRes, etc). This year, we have created a selection of welcome videos, which you can watch online, below. These will be incorporated into local induction and welcome events; you should receive invites directly from your Faculty, Department, or Division/Institute regarding these events. Ask your local Postgraduate Research (PGR) Administrator for the dates if you are unsure.

UCL is a big place, and sometimes the hardest bit can be finding out about all the amazing opportunities available to you – we encourage you to get stuck in! We wish you all the best in your research studies and encourage you to stay in touch with us throughout your time at UCL.

Elizabeth Halton, Deputy Director, UCL Doctoral School

Doctoral School Welcome videos

Please use your UCL userID and password to watch the videos.

Welcome to UCL's research community. What is a research degree at UCL
Professor David Bogle, Pro-Vice-Provost of the Doctoral School

Key people, resources and spaces
Elizabeth Halton, Deputy Director, Doctoral School

Researcher development at UCL – Doctoral Skills
Kasia Bronk, Development Manager, Academic and Research, UCL Innovation and Consultancy, Organisational Development

Careers Information for Research Students
Dr Jana Dankovicova, Career Consultant, UCL Careers

Innovation & Enterprise at UCL
Dr Celia Caulcott, Vice-Provost Enterprise & Dr Ruth Weir, Senior Programme Officer for Entrepreneurship)

UCL Student Mediator
Dr Ruth Siddall, UCL Student Mediator, Office of the Vice-Provost for Education & Student Affairs

What Students' Union UCL offers
Jim Onyemenam, Postgraduate Students' Officer, Students' Union UCL

Student Discussion Panel
Professor Jill Norman (Chair) and Students: Fei (Sophie) Yuan, Julian Laufs, Georgia Constantinou and Nilisha Vashist