PhD students in a lab in the new BME Hub

Bioengineering PhD offer holders

We are looking forward to welcoming you to Imperial’s Department of Bioengineering this Autumn. We are writing to update you on some amendments to your programme which we will be making in order to ensure that it can be delivered safely, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Getting a PhD is a challenging endeavour, let alone in these stressful times. We want to assure you that the measures we have taken will not only ensure your safety but also your motivation, productivity and success.

Please read the items below to find out more about how the next academic year will be delivered. 

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Your Bioengineering PhD programme

You would normally be expecting to attend College in-person, on campus to begin your research programme. However, over the 2020-21 academic year, we plan to provide a combination of remote and on-campus activities (multi-mode) for research degrees starting in the Autumn term. Starting your PhD through a multi-mode approach, with carefully chosen research plans created together with your supervisor, means that you will not be disadvantaged in your learning experience while these arrangements are in place. It is important to recognise that, depending on official government public-health guidance for the foreseeable future, the balance between remote and in-person offering may be subject to change. We will maximise your on-campus training and research activities as we progress throughout the forthcoming year. The College has been working at the forefront of research and patient care from the start of the pandemic and has both the experience and expertise to ensure your safety while on campus.  

If you are unable to travel to London for the Autumn term, you should contact your prospective PhD Supervisor to discuss plans for your PhD to start on a fully remote basis. It is critical that you keep in close contact with your Supervisor and the Department for the latest updates, including access to campus. 

Institutional guarantees

College-wide induction and enrolment activities will operate in a remote format at the start of the academic year, but additional induction activities will be provided when students start working in laboratories and for students who start later.  

All on-campus provision will be subject to the requirements of the current public health advice from the UK Government and strict adherence to College safety guidelines and protocols on social distancing will be required. We will closely monitor and implement any additional health and safety measures, driven by guidance that may result from the developing scientific evidence. In the event of an escalation of the current outbreak, or a second wave during your programme, we may have to suspend on-campus activities in line with guidance from Public Health England.  

Your PhD Supervisor will work with you closely to agree a suitable research plan. Access to laboratories and/or other research facilities required for your PhD project will be determined by the Department in the context of official Public Health England guidance. The College is also developing community-building activities to support the multi-mode experience for all students. This will include College-wide events for PhD students, organised by the Graduate School, which will be delivered remotely during 2020-21. In addition, Graduate School professional development workshops, which form a key part of your educational development and are part of your PhD milestone assessments, will be made available to you remotely during the autumn and spring terms. The mode of delivery of such activities for the Summer Term will depend on the advice from Public Health England at that time.  

Departmental induction

Departmental induction activities will take place remotely. These activities will be supplemented with laboratory-based inductions when you begin to work on campus. 


When you first start at the College either on campus or remotely, it is important to meet with your PhD Supervisor to discuss how your partnership will work. The College’s mutual expectations for the research degree student supervisor partnership [pdf] should be used to facilitate this conversation. It is likely that at least some of your PhD supervision sessions will run remotely and the Graduate School has developed guidance for students and staff [pdf] to help these run effectively. 

Programme delivery

If you are able to access the campus, your research programme will be delivered through a mixture of in-person and remote activities.  

The following activities will be delivered in person: research activities requiring the use of College facilities. 

The following activities will be delivered remotely: research activities not requiring the use of College facilities, research group meetings, mentor group meetings, guest lectures, seminars, and Graduate School Professional Skills Development Training. 

In the event of suspension of on-campus activity, in-person activities will be adapted for remote delivery.

Support for Remote Access to College Activities

To access the content of the programme remotely you will be expected to have access to a computer, webcam, reliable internet connection and be able to use Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Office365 suite of tools. Your Imperial College IT account will provide you with free access to Office365, and further information about how to use Microsoft Teams is available on the ICT website.

Training and support for how to use other systems and software will be provided during the programme induction and through specific online training modules. 

Assessments (Early Stage Assessment, Late Stage Review and PhD viva voce)

We plan that your Early Stage Assessment (ESA), Late Stage Review (LSR) and final viva will take place in person and on campus. However, this may change depending upon advice from Public Health England, in which case these assessments may take place remotely. We have developed and tested protocols to ensure that these assessments can take place remotely without detriment to you and guidance is available [pdf] to ensure that you can prepare yourself for these remote assessments.   

Length of the programme

We anticipate that you will be able to complete your PhD programme within the timescale previously advertised. However, if we are not able to deliver part of your research programme due to the impact of public health guidance in place during the period of your PhD programme, the length of your programme may be extended, with no additional tuition fees being levied.  

Additional costs

You will need to cover any costs associated with the requirement for access to a computer, webcam and to a reliable internet connection as you carry out your PhD research remotely. There are no other expected additional costs (beyond those previously advertised) to participate in the programme. 

Visas and Immigration 

If you require a visa to study in the UK, it is important that you have read the guidance provided by the International Student Support Team at the College.

Imperial has a team of specialist immigration advisers who can provide specific advice on your immigration situation and on the best options for you. They can be reached by email ( 

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct immigration permission for your studies in the UK.