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Digital Environment Research Institute (DERI)


Applications for the third cohort of the AI for Drug Discovery Programme are now open

Applications are invited to join the AI for Drug Discovery PhD Programme. Please visit our Projects page to see the positions available for the 2024-25 intake.

If you have already identified the project you wish to apply for, please find further details on submitting an application in the "how to Apply" section below.

We offer

  • 4-Year PhD studentship with an optional industry placement 
  • Comprehensive training at the intersection between computer and biological sciences
  • Stipend of at least £20,622/year (pro-rata for part-time students) and additional funding to cover travel to conferences and workshops. Our industry partners will also typically provide a contribution towards the studentship to support engagement, for example during the industry placement.

Who we are looking for

We are looking for highly motivated individuals who are passionate about contributing to new discoveries in drug discovery bioscience through the application of the latest techniques in AI and data science.

We welcome applications from candidates who hold a masters degree at distinction or first class level, or have gained equivalent experience, in Computer Science, Bioinformatics / Computational Biology, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Biology, Pharmacology, Medicinal Chemistry, Chemistry or other relevant fields. We accept applicants with a first class Bachelors degree who do not hold a Masters degree, provided the applicants provide evidence of equivalent research experience, industry experience, or specialist training. Programming skills are strongly desirable and you will be confident in performing data wrangling and analysis in a language such as Python, R or C++, or can demonstrate the ability to acquire the necessary level of programming skills.

We particularly encourage students from groups that are currently underrepresented in postgraduate science research, including black and minority ethnic students and those from a socio-economically disadvantaged background.

Part-time study is an option for some projects. Please specify this as part of your application if relevant.


We appreciate all talent and skills, and we welcome applicants of all backgrounds and identities. Our applications are open to both home and international students who meet the programme entry criteria. We can allocate up to 30% of our places to International Students; this is in line with the UKRI student eligibility criteria, as detailed in the UKRI Postgraduate funding guide

Overseas places for the 2024-25 intake have now been allocated. 

To be classed as a home student, candidates must meet the following criteria set out in the UKRI Training Grant Terms & Conditions:

  • Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter

If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they would be classed as an International student.

Each project description contains details on eligibility which we encourage candidates to review.

If you obtained your qualifications outside of the UK, check country/region specific information on the Queen Mary Webpage.

English Language requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of their English language ability, in line with QMUL admissions policy for postgraduate research programmes. The minimum requirements for the AIDD Doctoral training programme are:

  • IELTS Academic: 6.5 overall including 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in Reading, Listening and Speaking. 
  • TOEFL: 92 overall including 21 in Writing, 18 in Reading, 17 in Listening and 20 in Speaking.
  • PTE Academic/PTE Academic UKVI: 71 overall including 65 in Writing and 59 in Reading, Listening and Speaking. 
  • Trinity College London, Integrated Skills in English (ISE): Trinity ISE II with a Distinction in Writing, Reading, Listening and Speaking, or Trinity ISE III with a minimum of Pass in Writing, Reading, Listening and Speaking.
  • C2 Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE): 176 overall including 169 in Writing, and 162 in Reading, Listening and Speaking.
  • C1 Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE): 176 overall including 169 in Writing, and 162 in Reading, Listening and Speaking.

For information on alternative English language qualifications, please see the Queen Mary webpage on alternative qualifications

How to apply

Applications are currently being accepted for candidates to join the AI for Drug Discovery Programme. Applicants must ensure that you submit your application, and all required attachments prior to the deadline outlined for the project you are applying for.  

You can find projects available for the 2024-2025 cohort noted on the projects pages. Please ensure that you have identified a project prior to submitting an application. You can apply for a maximum of 2 projects. 

Once you have identified a project(s) to apply for, you will need to complete an online application form via the Queen Mary Admissions Portal. The programme code you will need to select is RFQM-I9EE-09 (PhD FT Artificial Intelligence for Drug Discovery).

As part of the application, you will need to attach the following documents. Note, applications that do not include all the following documents will be considered as incomplete.

  • 1 page (A4) maximum research statement outlining your interest, and suitability for the project including how your current skills, and experience will benefit you*
  • Copy of your CV
  • Copy of your degree certificate(s) and transcripts
  • Certificate of English Language, if required (IELTS, TOEFL or equivalent as per above)
  • Details of two Referees

*If you are applying for more than one project, you may upload two research statements. We encourage you to consider the selection criteria when preparing your statement.

We have prepared a Guide on how to complete the application form. We recommend you review this in advance of submitting your application.

Selection criteria

Submitted applications will be reviewed by a panel of academics from the AI for Drug Discovery programme, and shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend an interview with the project team of their chosen project. If you have identified 2 projects in your application, you may be invited to attend an interview for both projects.

The selection panel will initially review the material submitted in the AI for Drug Discovery Application form that candidates will complete, and upload as part of their application via the Queen Mary Admissions Portal. This form is designed to be anonymised to support a fair assessment.

Successful candidates will be able to demonstrate:

  • Academic Track Record: A strong academic record, with good grades or distinction. 
  • Motivation for PhD Studies: Strong motivation to pursue a PhD degree, for example through evidence of seeking research experience, and understanding of how their skills and experience to-date will support them. 
  • Fit to Chosen Project(s): Good fit to chosen project and supervisor, demonstrating a clear understanding of the chosen project and how their experience, interests, and skills align to it.

Applicant's achievements will be considered within the context of their individual circumstances.


Frequently asked questions

We have put together this list of frequently asked questions based on enquiries received for other doctoral training programmes. If your question isn’t answered here please contact us on and one of our management team will get back to you as soon as possible. We will update this list of FAQs with commonly asked queries that we receive.

Is this programme for me?
Given the cross-disciplinary nature of the programme, we expect to recruit students from a range of academic backgrounds, from computer science to biochemistry. The specific balance between areas in which each student will be trained will therefore differ significantly as the students develop into interdisciplinary researchers. While this programme is primarily focussed on computer-based research, QMUL will provide with a useful route to experimental validation of novel findings, allowing close integration of experimental biology and data-driven and modelling approaches.

What fees do I have to pay?
International and home postgraduate student fees are covered by most studentships in full. We have limited number of places for international PhD students, in line with requirements from our funder, and each project will outline what the award will cover. 

Can the studentship be undertaken part time?
Requests for undertaking PhD research part-time can be considered. Note that this will extend the overall duration of your PhD training. If you want to pursue your PhD training on a part-time basis, please make sure to indicate this in your application, explaining why you think this is the best option for you.

Is this programme available remotely?
This is not a distance learning programme, students are expected to be living in the UK throughout the programme in order to attend some courses, training and industry placements in person.

What documents do I need to submit with my application?
Applications should be submitted via the Queen Mary Admissions Portal and you will need to include the below documents:

  • 1 Page (A4) maximum Research Statement
  • Copy of your CV
  • Copy of your degree certificate(s) and transcripts
  • Certificate of English Language, if required (IELTS, TOEFL or equivalent as per above)
  • Details of two Referees

How does the industry placement work?
Industry placements will be agreed with your supervisory team, and may take place in one block, for example a period of 3months, or be spread over the course of the programme depending on the needs of your project. You will be party to an agreement between Queen Mary, the Industry partner, and yourself which outlines the additional contribution that the Industry partner will make towards your studentship, to facilitate engagement and visits to their offices. This typically is a stipend top-up to cover additional travel, and accommodation during the period of a placement, however this does vary and will be agreed based on the requirements of your specific project, and you may therefore find that it varies between students on the programme.

How does the interview work?
If your application is shortlisted, you will be invited to attend an invite with the primary and secondary supervisors on your chosen project. Interviews will either take place in person, or via Zoom, and will typically last up to 30 minutes. You can expect the interview panel to ask you about your motivation to pursue a PhD, your experience to-date, and its fit to the chosen project, as well as why you might wish to undertake the project you have chosen.

How should I select my References?
It is important that the individuals you submit as referees can comment on your academic and professional experience, as these will be used in the shortlisting of your application. We recommend that you approach your chosen referees in advance and notify them that you are applying and wish to list them as a reference. Ensure that you discuss the project(s) that you are considering applying for, and that you give them sufficient notice so that they have time to provide a reference by the deadline.

At least one your references should be from an academic setting, ideally someone who can comment on your research abilities. This could be a supervisor on a project, or when conducting lab-work for example. A personal tutor may be a good choice if they are able to comment on your interests and abilities, as well as your personal goals, or a previous employer if they are able to comment on your interests or skills related to your research area.

Do I need to contact the Supervisor of my chosen project before applying?
You do not need to contact the supervisor(s) listed on the project you are interested in prior to applying. If you have a question on the project, or are unsure on anything, you can reach out to the supervisor directly or you can contact who will be able to provide further support.

When will I hear the outcome of my application?
Once the deadline for your chosen Round has passed, your application will be reviewed by a panel of academics from the AI for Drug Discovery programme, and shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend an interview with the project team of their chosen project. Invites to interview should be issued to candidates within 6 weeks of the Round closing. We intend to notify unsuccessful candidates for Round One in mid-March, and Round Two in mid-June. Due to the volume of applications, we will not be able to offer feedback to candidates who are not invited to interview.

Ready to submit your application?

Apply now!
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