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Digital Environment Research Institute (DERI)


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

Please ensure you read the information below careful before applying. This information should be reviewed in conjunction with the projects page for further details on the projects available.

Note, only certain projects are currently accepting applications, as noted on the project page.

We offer

  • 4 year fully funded PhD studentship with an industry placement (of at least 3 months)
  • Comprehensive training at the intersection between computer and biological sciences
  • Stipend of at least £19,668/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 welcome applications from candidates who hold a masters degree at distinction or first class level, or equivalent, in Computer Science, Bioinformatics / Computational Biology, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Biology, Pharmacology, Medicinal Chemistry, Chemistry or other relevant field. 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; however we do not consider this to be an essential criterion if candidates have complementary strengths.

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

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.

Please note: Overseas places for the 2023-24 academic year have now been allocated.

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: 62 overall including 57 in Writing and 51 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

Selection criteria

Successful candidates will be able to demonstrate:

  • A very good academic record, with good grades or distinction.
  • Strong motivation to pursue a PhD degree, for example through evidence of seeking research experience and a well-articulated personal statement.
  • We will look for evidence of independence, maturity, initiative, fortitude, perseverance, enthusiasm and other personality traits that are important when pursuing a PhD. This evidence will come from your CV, your personal statement and your interview.
  • Applicant's achievements will be considered within the context of their individual circumstances.

How to apply

Applicants should review the available projects, and select their top project outline. We encourage you to submit your application as early as possible.

Once you have selected the project 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 RRPF-QMBIOL1 (PhD FT Artificial Intelligence for Drug Discovery).

The application deadline is noted on the individual project description and advert. You need to ensure that by this date you have submitted your application, and both your referees have submitted their references.

You will need to upload the following documents as part of your application:

  • Copy of your degree certificate(s)

  • Copy of your CV

  • Certificate of English Language, if required (IELTS, TOEFL or equivalent as per above)

  • A Research Statement, this should be a 1-page document indicating:
    - why you are interested in this PhD programme
    - Why you have selected the project to apply for (see projects page for details of available projects)
  • A Personal Statement, explaining why you think you are the right candidate for this programme, and your chosen project. If you want to pursue your PhD training on a part-time basis please indicate this in your personal statement and explain why you think this is the best option for you.

  • Two References

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

After submitting your application form, our management team will contact you asking to complete a Diversity Form. This is optional, and will be used for equality and diversity monitoring. It will not form part of your formal application to the programme, will be stored separately, and will not be used as part of the selection process.

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 drop us a line at and one of our management team will get back to you as soon as possible. We will update this list of FAQs with all the queries 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 the studentships in full. We have limited number of places for international PhD students, in line with requirements from our funder.

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 (for example from 4 to 8 years if you pursue the programme with 50% time dedication). If you want to pursue your PhD training on a part-time basis, please make sure to indicate this in your personal statement, 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.

How does the industry placement work?
Industry placements will last between 3 and 18 months, and all the details will be agreed with your academic and industry supervisors at the beginning of the PhD studies. 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.

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