The EPSRC CDT in BioDesign Engineering is an interdisciplinary programme that runs between Imperial College London, University College London and University of Manchester. All students will undertake the MRes in Systems and Synthetic Biology at Imperial College in their first year, with an extended project based at the lead-supervisor institution, followed by a 3 year PhD registration in that host institution.

Our aim is to attract students captivated by the excitement of working in Engineering Biology, at the interface of experimental bioscience, engineering and data science. The Programme is interdisciplinary with a diverse community that welcomes students from biological sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, statistics, engineering and computing.

We are particularly keen to recruit students whose experience is representative of the interdisciplinary nature of the course. We are recruiting both to specific projects (a list of projects is available here) as well as to the programme in general, where students will select a research topic in the first year.

The programme requires at least an upper second class degree (or overseas equivalent). Students must also meet the English language requirement of Imperial College.

All applications will be considered equally, irrespective of factors such as ethnicity, disability, religion or belief, gender, sexual orientation, age and nationality. We are particularly keen to have a diverse cohort of students and consequently encourage applications from under-represented groups within the UK.

Applications are open to students with Home fees status as well as those with EU/International fees status. A studentship covers tuition fees as well as a stipend at the UKRI rate for the full duration of the 1+3 programme.

Application process

  1. We are recruiting students both to specific projects as well as to the programme in general, with the opportunity to select a research topic during the first year (subject to internal rules of the CDT to ensure supervisor and institution diversity).
  2. Choose the project(s) you want to apply to from our studentships page, or to the general programme.
  3. Prepare a file with the personal details requested below:
    1. Write a one-page statement of motivation, either for the project(s) you are applying to or the programme in general, this will be read by project supervisors and the CDT team alongside your application details.
    2. If applying for the programme in general you must state your selected site (Imperial or the University of Manchester).
    3. The supervisors are sent all the interested candidate packs and decide who they would like to shortlist for interview.
    4. The CDT team will shortlist general candidates for the programme.
  4. Panel interviews are scheduled with the project supervisors, CDT team and other academic representatives.
  5. The CDT team will approve appointments to the programme and a formal offer will be sent to the student. Students should only accept offers if they are absolutely committed to taking the place.
  6. The candidate starts their MRes in October 2023.

Your application must be sent via e-mail to:  Please note: the closing date for applications is Sunday 15th Jan 2023.

Please note this is the only means to apply for this programme and you should not send a formal application for postgraduate study to Registry – this will not be a valid application. Details must be complete in order for us to process your application. You must also send a Monitoring Form, as detailed below.

We plan to hold interviews on site, but will take circumstances into consideration and may need to hold them virtually.

Details of your application

To apply you must supply the following details in the order specified on no more than two pages and then add a one page personal statement. Please do not use a font any smaller than 11 point and margins no less than 2 cm. Your application must then be a single file of no more than 3 pages, we prefer PDF but can also accept Word format. Please do not add any other attachments such as a covering letter, transcripts, references, publications or a detailed research plan.

The attached file must be called:

“YOUR SURNAME”-“your first name”-2023-CDT-BioDesign-Eng

For example: SMITH-Jane-2023-CDT-BioDesign-Eng

Do not ZIP or otherwise encode/compress your attachment. This could result in your e-mail being placed in our spam filter.

Personal details (no photograph please)

  • SURNAME (in capitals) followed by first names
  • Gender (optional)
  • Date of birth (optional)
  • Home address
  • Temporary address
  • E-mail (this will be the only means of communication with you)
  • Mobile phone number (with country code)
  • Other phone number (with country code)
  • Nationality and fee status
  • For EU citizens please state if you have settled or pre-settled status
  • Country of birth
  • Country of domicile and date of arrival in UK if from overseas (month and year when (if) you settled in the UK)

Project interests

We are recruiting to the specific projects listed, as well as for ‘open’ positions at Imperial College London and the University of Manchester. The ‘open’ positions are designed to provide flexibility for students to find their own PhD project and supervisor during their MRes year. You may indicate preferences for specific projects or the general programme (specifying the institution - Imperial College London or the University of Manchester) or both. You may list more than one preference, but you do not have to rank them all. You can state reasons for your interest in your one page personal statement (please do not include this motivation here).

Higher education

Please give university, subject, degree and dates. If you have not completed your degree, please give full details of your results so far (including degree class) and your expected final degree class and grade. This information is essential.

Secondary/high school education

Please give full details (with dates and grades) of final school examination results (A-level, baccalaureate or equivalent).

Relevant work experience

Please give dates and details.

English language qualification

Please prove full details (qualification, date and grades) of any tests for English Language if these are required for your admission (see English language requirement). If you have not passed the required test, please provide the date when the results will be known. If your undergraduate course was from some countries (see English language requirement) where English is the native language, you do not require any further tests.

Naming referees

Please give full details including e-mail of two referees. It is your responsibility to ensure that your referees submit their references to the specified email address by the deadline of Sunday 15th January. We expect at least one referee to be from an academic involved in your undergraduate course. Details of how your referee should submit the reference is given below, please send them this information. Obviously references are valuable in our selection process, but your application will still be considered for shortlisting and will be considered equally if we do not have references.

Personal statement

No more than one page, no smaller than 11 point font.

We would like to learn of any interdisciplinary skills across the fields of life sciences/engineering/numerical/computing/physical studies you have acquired. Please outline any research projects or placements you have done. If you have any scientific publication, please provide details.

In addition, we would be interested if you have identified a particular area of interest in the field in general and the specific projects in particular. You may describe your interest and motivation for your project choices here.

Monitoring Form

To help us monitor equality, diversity and inclusion, you must complete and submit our monitoring form which can be downloaded here CDT Monitoring Form.  Completion of the form is mandatory, your application will not be considered without it. Please note that you may respond 'Not disclosed' for any or all questions, but you must still complete and submit the form. Please e-mail this as a separate attachment to with MONITORING in the subject line. Please do NOT attach this to your application.  The data will be collated and anonymised. Monitoring Forms will be seen only be the administrative staff and not those interviewing or supervising.

For referees - how to submit your reference

We would be grateful if you could comment on the candidate’s suitability for the 4-year PhD in BioDesign Engineering, emphasising their potential for scientific research.

In your reference please can you provide us with applicant’s overall ranking within their cohort. We would also be grateful if you could indicate the minimum requirement a candidate would need to achieve to be eligible to undertake a PhD at your institution. In addition, if English is not the native language of the applicant, please comment on the applicant’s ability in written and spoken English.

Please e-mail your reference to  and mark the subject line of your e-mail as “Reference” –“APPLICANT’S_LAST_NAME”- “First Name”- “2023”, e.g. Reference-SMITH-Jane-2023

Your response to this request can be in the body of an e-mail or as an attachment, we do not require a signed letter.  Do not ZIP or otherwise encode/compress your attachment as this could result in your e-mail being placed in our spam filter.  For successful candidates you will be asked later by Imperial’s central admission procedure for a reference and please also reply to this using the procedure they indicate.

If you have any questions, please contact us via