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Forensic & Neurodevelopmental Sciences MPhil/PhD/MD(Res)

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  • Number of academic staff: 16

  • Number of research students: 30

The Department of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Sciences (FANS) in the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) is one of the few leading teams in the world bringing together experts in brain development and antisocial behaviour. We offer prospective students supervision from internationally recognised academics with expertise in many areas of forensic and neurodevelopmental research.  As one of Europe’s largest research groups focusing on the neuroscientific understanding of the development of prosocial and antisocial behaviours across the lifespan, we believe it is essential to investigate the determinants of normal development to understand abnormal behaviour (or illness).

With staff globally-recognised as innovators of high-quality translational research. we maintain strong links with our clinical and forensic partners ensuring our fundamental research and teaching efforts can be transferred for clinical improvements with ease and speed. The quality of our research is reflected by our academic contributions to the 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework. Ranked 2nd in the country for power, the IoPPNachieved a 100%  4* ranking for our research environment, indicating our impact was judged to be ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. We currently hold approximately £20 million in research income from national (e.g. the Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust and National Institute of Health Research), international (e.g. European Commission) and charitable grant giving bodies (Autistica, Forces in Mind and The Simons Foundation).

Research methodologies employed within FANS included neuroimaging (in vivo brain imaging -MRI, fMRI, MRS, and PET), genomics, animal models, epidemiology, psychopathology, psychopharmacology, and measures of cognitive ability and behaviour in healthy individuals and those with psychiatric or neurodevelopmental disorders.

Key benefits

World leading experts

Our academic team members sit on National and International steering and advisory groups (including UK government task forces on ADHD, autism and offenders). With expertise from basic animal models through to the latest neuroimaging techniques, we are world leaders in brain imaging of infants, and in relating differences in brain structure and function to social and cognitive development. We also study the genetics, epidemiology, psychopathology, neurobiology and psychopharmacology of autistic spectrum disorders and ADHD across the lifespan, conduct disorder and callous unemotional behaviour in children, and offending and antisocial personality disorder in adulthood.

 National and International Partnerships

Our work is funded by a generous donation of The Dr. Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation along with large scale grants from leading agencies including the Medical Research Council (UK), National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), The Wellcome Trust, Autism Speaks, Autistica, The European Commission (the Innovative Medicines Initiative for EU AIMS, together with other funding for EU BRAINVIEW, EU TACTICS, and EU MATRICS), the Simons Foundation (USA) and Industry (GW Pharma).

 Translational Research

Our unique collaboration between academics, researchers and clinicians provides you with an outstanding learning environment to become part of the next generation of world leaders in translational research.

 Set within the world renowned Maudsley and Bethlem Royal hospitals, we join forces with leading experts in their field to provide high quality forensic and neurodevelopmental services via the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLAM) – provider of the widest range of mental health services in the UK. 

 As part of the Behavioural and Developmental Psychiatry Clinical Academic Group (CAG), we rapidly translate cutting-edge research into clinical practice, improving patient outcomes, training and clinical practice to create world-leading improvements in healthcare.

 The Sackler Institute for Translational Neurodevelopment, launched in 2013 under the chairmanship of Professor Declan Murphy, carries out multidisciplinary ‘translational’ studies of normal development, and how abnormalities in that process lead to high cost neurodevelopmental disorders. Our studies link the ‘basic’ sciences (e.g. in cellular mechanisms and circuits studied using stem cell and animal models) to clinical sciences.  Partnered with the Sackler Institute, our students have an unrivalled opportunity to take their research directly into a clinical setting. Sackler PhD students are provided with a bursary to aid their bench fees, essential project running costs and travel to meetings. The program aims  to ‘leverage up’ the influence of the Sackler Institute while training a cohort of future scientific leaders, providing a ‘living legacy’ for the Sackler family’s donation.


Key information

Duration Three years FT; six years PT. Contact ioppn.pgr@kcl.ac.uk for further information

Study mode Full-time, Part-time



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Course detail


Take a look at our recent publications

The Department of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Sciences (FANS) offers prospective students supervision from internationally recognised academics with expertise in many areas of forensic and neurodevelopmental research.

 Current Research Interests

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

  • European Autism Intervention A Multicentre Study (EU-AIMS)
  • Experimental Medicine studies in adult ASD: GABA, Glutamate, Endocannabinoid and Serotonin systems

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)           

Research in the Forensic Environment

  • Fitness to Plead
  • Trauma in prison

Conduct Disorder

  • Brain Associates of Parent Training on Antisocial Behaviour in Children (MRC-ABC)

Infant Brain Development

  • Brain Imaging in Babies Study (BIBS)

Course study environment

Working closely with their supervisors, our Graduate research students enjoy regular meetings to discuss their progress. We also foster student collaboration by encouraging networking with other members of staff within their research group  along with participation in departmental research presentations and Institute seminars. At the start of their studies new graduate students are given a full induction and each full-time graduate research student is allocated their own workspace and computer. Facilities for part-time students can be arranged according to their needs. Students and supervisors are invited to participate in the thriving PhD student forum - a bi-monthly gathering for all all students and supervisors to discuss research methods and present on-going projects.

Fostering our PhD Researchers

We encourage our students to publish their research results. In addition to supporting PhD Theses incorporating publications we also champion student poster and oral presentations at national and international conferences including: International Society of Autism Research Meeting, Organisation of Human Brain Mapping, and Society for the Study of Behavioural Phenotypes Conference.

Postgraduate training

Training courses run by the department, the Institute or through the Graduate School can be utilised as required to provide training in a wide variety of topics, from transferable skills to academic areas directly relevant to the student's thesis. 

Head of group/division

Professor Declan Murphy

Contact for information

For any additional queries regarding application and project approval procedures please contact

Education Support Team: ioppn.pgr@kcl.ac.uk 

Admissions Tutor: Dr Vaheshta Sethna- vaheshta.sethna@kcl.ac.uk

Business Manager: Ms Harriet Meteyard- harriet.meteyard@kcl.ac.uk

Contact email

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Forensic & Neurodevelopment Sciences Res Entry Requirements
Minimum requirements  
  • Bachelors degree with 2:1 honours.
  • A 2:2 degree may be considered only where applicants also offer a Masters with Merit
International requirements   Visit our admissions webpages to view our International entry requirements.
English Language requirements Band D Visit our admissions webpages to view our English language entry requirements.


Applicants not applying for an advertised studentship must attached confirmation of support from your proposed supervisor to your application.


Application procedure

Application procedure:

Step 1- Finding Supervisors: Firstly, you will need to find supervisors to work with you in this capacity. You can search through our research portal to find supervisors who work in your chosen research area. Applicants are expected to contact academics directly.

Step 2- Arranging funding: Unless you are applying for a studentship or can self-fund your studies, you will need to arrange for funding before you make the application. The following pages are useful:

For tips and advice from our students who have been awarded NIHR and MRC Research Training Fellowships, particularly regarding the interview stage click here.

Step 3- Make an online application: Next you need to make your online application here.  This application will be assessed by the Admissions team to assess your references, fee status as well as your eligibility in terms of education and experience.

Step 4- Submit a Project Approval Form: The project approval form (PAF) is used to assess your project in terms of planning, feasibility and appropriateness for a PhD. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the form is completed but it is recommended that applicants work closely with the supervisors.

Make sure you complete all sections, answering all questions fully, and signatures from all supervisors and student are included. There is no need to collect the signatures from the Head of Department/Business Manager and Sub-Committee Chair at this point.

 We strongly advise the submission of your application as early as possible to ensure that you can begin with your desired intake. If your application is not processed in time you run the risk of a deferral to the subsequent intake.

We advise Home students to submit their online application and PAF at least two months before their desired registration date, and EU and Overseas students to submit their online application and PAF at least three months ahead of their desired registration date, although the earlier the application submission the better. This is to take into account any English Language tests you may need to take and await the results of, and any visa applications that you may need to make.

It is typical that the process from the receipt of your online application and PAF through to offer letter stage (which includes the arrangement of the PhD interview) takes approximately six weeks.

Please note that the deadlines listed below are for both the online application and Project Approval Form (PAF) which is to be submitted in Microsoft Word format to ioppn.pgr@kcl.ac.uk.

Copies of the PAF can be downloaded here


Personal statement and supporting information

You will be asked to submit the following documents in order for your application to be considered:

Forensic and Neurodevelopment Sciences checklist
Personal Statement Yes

A personal statement is required. This can be entered directly into the online application form (maximum 4,000 characters) or uploaded as an attachment to the online application form (maximum 2 pages).

Research Proposal Yes

The proposal should explain in some detail precisely the field of study that you want to contribute to and current research gaps, what you want to do and how you propose to do it. For advice on how to write a winning application, please visit the following page.

A letter of support from your proposed King's supervisor is also required. Futher details on this letter are available on the IOPPN webpages.

Previous Academic Study Yes A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing the subjects studied and marks obtained. If you have already completed your degree, copies of your official degree certificate will also be required. Applicants with academic documents issued in a language other than English, will need to submit both the original and official translation of their documents.
References Yes One academic reference is required. A professional reference will be accepted if you have completed your qualifications over five years ago.
Other Optional You may also wish to include a CV (Resume) or evidence of professional registration as part of your application.

Course intake

No set number.

Application closing date

We recommend that you submit your application as soon as possible as we may need to request further information from you to assess your application. This is also important if your application is successful and you are required to meet any offer condition, and/or you need a Student Visa to study here at King's.

The final application deadlines are detailed below; on these dates, the programme will close at 23:59 (UK time) and we will open for the corresponding intake in 2023 soon after the same intake has passed in 2022.

  • February 2022 entry – 12 November 2021 for Overseas fee status and 6 December 2021 for Home fee status

  • June 2022 entry – 1 April 2022 for Overseas fee status and 11 April 2022 for Home fee status

  • October 2022 entry – 29 July 2022 for Overseas fee status and 26 August 2022 for Home fee status

  • February 2023 entry – 21 October 2022 for Overseas fee status and 22 November 2022 for Home fee status

  • June 2023 entry – 3 April 2023 for Overseas fee status and 17 April 2023 for Home fee status

Please note that funding deadlines may be earlier than the application deadlines listed above.

Help and support

If you don't have a suitable qualification for direct entry to a UK university, or if English isn't your first language, our academic preparation courses can help you get ready for study in the UK.

International Foundation

Fees and funding

UK Tuition Fees 2021/22

Full time tuition fees: £6,720 per year

Part time tuition fees: £3,360 per year

International Tuition Fees 2021/22

Full time tuition fees: £25,350 per year

Part time tuition fees: £12,675 per year

UK Tuition Fees 2022/23

Full time tuition fees: £7,050 per year

Part time tuition fees: £3,525 per year

International Tuition Fees 2022/23

Full time tuition fees: £26,640 per year

Part time tuition fees: £13,320 per year

EU Students starting their programme in the academic year 2021/22 will pay international tuition fees.

These tuition fees may be subject to additional increases in subsequent years of study, in line with King's terms and conditions.

Financial help and support

Visit the fees and funding webpages to find out more about bursaries, scholarships, grants, tuition fees, living expenses, student loans and other financial help available at King's.

Career prospects

National and International Postdoc positions in Forensics or Neurodevelopment. Positions in related Charity, Advocacy and Policy organisations. Lecturer/Educator. 

Career destinations

Students pursue further research and enhanced careers in mental health and social care as research-oriented clinicians, managers and policy makers.


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Next steps

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