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Social Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry MD(Res)/MPhil/PhD

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Key features

The Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) Centre is an interdisciplinary, collaborative research group that combines genetic and environmental strategies in order to study how nature and nurture interact in the development of complex behavioural dimensions and disorders. The Centre is equipped with cutting-edge research facilities, including extensive modern laboratories with state-of-the-art genomics, epigenomics and biomarker assay equipment, an EEG laboratory, bioinformatics resources, and a modern well-supported and powered computing cluster. The Centre also houses the MRC London Neurodegenerative Diseases Brain Bank.

Key information

Duration For a traditional PhD, expected to be three years FT, five to six years PT; for MSc and PhD, expected to be one and three years. Email ioppn.educationsupport@kcl.ac.uk or SGDP-programme-admin@kcl.ac.uk for further information.

Study mode Full-time, Part-time



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Course detail


The SGDP Centre welcomes applications for several fully funded PhD studentships for autumn 2019, for either the 1+3 or +3 PhD programme. The Centre’s students are diverse in their backgrounds, with about half coming from social science and the other half from biological and related sciences. Our studentships are highly competitive and popular, and the programmes have seen a significant increase in overseas applications, including applications from the USA. In addition to the Centre’s 1+3 interdisciplinary PhD training programme, faculty members of the Centre are able to supervise students on a traditional +3 PhD.

Our 1+3 students will undertake the MSc in Genes, Environment & Development in Psychology & Psychiatry (GED PP) for 1 year before commencing their PhD project. The MSc GED PP programme takes a highly interdisciplinary approach to the study of how genetics and the environment ('nature and nurture') combine during human development to produce behaviour, diseases and psychiatric disorders. Students are taught by world-leading experts and receive training across multiple research fields: molecular & behavioural genetics, twin modelling, statistical genetics, epigenetics, bioinformatics, social and cognitive psychology, and developmental psychiatry. At the end of the first year, successful students are awarded a Master of Science degree and need not apply to be promoted to PhD training for the remaining 3 years.

The +3 students may already have research experience and/or be familiar with the interdisciplinary nature of our research areas and have ideas about an appropriate SGDP project and/or research method. They will also usually already hold an MSc (or equivalent qualification) relevant to their PhD topic.

Both programmes include continuous involvement in Centre research which focuses on interdisciplinary approaches in topics including: antisocial behaviour, anorexia and eating disorders, anxiety, autism, depression, bipolar disorder, psychosis, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder across development using powerful analytical and molecular tools (EEG, statistics, bioinformatics, molecular genetics, epigenetics). 

Course study environment

Graduate research students work closely with their supervisors and enjoy regular meetings to discuss their progress. They also liaise with other members of staff with relevant research interests and are encouraged to attend and participate in departmental research presentations and other Institute seminars. There is a full induction for new graduate students on commencing their studies. 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.

Postgraduate training

Head of group/division

Departmental Manager: Ms Lilli Cleghorn- lilli.cleghorn@kcl.ac.uk

Contact for information

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

Education Support Team: Olivia Rees- ioppn.educationsupport@kcl.ac.uk

Admissions Tutor: Prof Jonna Kuntsi- jonna.kuntsi@kcl.ac.uk  

Programme Leader and PhD Chair: Professor Robert Plomin- Robert.Plomin@kcl.ac.uk

Departmental Manager: Ms Lilli Cleghorn- lilli.cleghorn@kcl.ac.uk


Contact email


Course website


Further literature

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

SGDP Entry Requirements
Minimum UK requirements  
  • Bachelor’s degree with 2:1 honours in psychology, behavioural, biological or mathematical sciences; or a relevant qualification in medicine; or a relevant professional qualification. 

  • A 2:2 degree may be considered only where applicants already have a Masters with Merit or above in a related subject.

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 attach the following to their application:

• Confirmation of sponsorship funding for the full 4 years duration of the programme
• Confirmation of support from their proposed supervisor.

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. A list of available departmental supervisors can be found here.  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 Clinical Research Training Fellowships, particularly regarding the interview stage, please see 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 their proposed supervisors.

Make sure you complete all sections, answering all questions fully, and ensure 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 above re for both the online application and Project Approval Form (PAF) which is to be submitted in Microsoft Word format to ioppn.educationsupport@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:

SG&DP research 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 would also be required. For more information, please the IOPPN website.

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

The final deadlines for applicants with Home, EU or overseas (international) fee status are detailed below. Please note that funding applications deadlines may be earlier. We will open applications for the corresponding intake in 2022 after the same intake has passed in 2021.  

  • February 2021 entry – 23rd October 2020 for international applicants and 23rd November 2020 for Home/EU applicants 

  • June 2021 entry - 12th April 2021 for international and Home/EU applicants 

  • October 2021 entry – 30th July 2021 for international/EU applicants and 27th August 2021 for Home applicants 

  • February 2022 entry – 12th November 2021 for international/EU applicants and 6th December 2021 for Home applicants 

  • June 2022 entry – 1st April 2022 for international/EU applicants and 11th April 2022 for Home applicants 

Applications for 2022/23 academic year will open from October 2021. 

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.

Preparation courses

Fees and funding

UK Tuition Fees 2020/21

Full time tuition fees: £6,390 per year

Part time tuition fees: £3,195 per year

International Tuition Fees 2020/21

Full time tuition fees:  £24,150 per year              

Part time tuition fees: £12,075 per year

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

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

Some of the SGDP Centre’s PhD students are now faculty members of renowned research institutes, including: the Center for Human Genetic Research (CHGR) AT Massachusetts General Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine in the US, King’s College London, University College of London, Birkbeck University, Exeter University, and Oxford University in England.

The June 2003 APS Observer article about the SGDP Centre also includes a student interview (“One Student’s View”) with one of the SGDP Centre’s PhD students. The interview captures the essence of our training program as follows:

“I have my interdisciplinary SGDP PhD program to thank for the broad training across psychology and genetics and the opportunity to enter new fields equipped with such training. It was this fusion of approaches that opened so many excellent post-doctoral jobs offers for me. I would certainly recommend it to other psychological scientists. For a while, taking the interdisciplinary road is tough. You seem to be the new naïve person asking for help. However, you soon find that you have rare combinations of skills that allow you to develop your own fusions. The interdisciplinary approach is fantastic.”

Career destinations

Students have gone on to become senior lecturers at the IoPPN and at other institutions; consultant psychiatrists or professors. Others have continued their research, or gained MRC fellowships.


Blue box with King's College London rankings. Starting with, 7th in the UK for research quality. Followed by, 6th in the UK for research power. Concluding with, 4th among multi-faculty universities for research Impact. The source is research excellence framework 2014

Next steps

View our postgraduate guide

Learn more about postgraduate degree programmes at King's.

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