Musculoskeletal Biology (Veterinary)

MPhil / PhD / MD

The goal of the Department of Musculoskeletal Biology is to understand the processes that underlie ageing and disease in tissues such as skeletal muscle, bone, cartilage, tendon and ligament. Research is fundamental and encompasses disciplines including anatomy, biomechanics, physiology and molecular cell biology.

  • £8m

    research income.

  • £35m

    brand-new research facility.

  • 50+

    active research staff.

Research at Liverpool

The Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease provides a powerful focus for understanding the many variables – from bioscience to social – that influence ageing and chronic disease in people throughout their lives.

The Department boasts an enviable array of expertise from medical and veterinary clinician-scientists, biomedical scientists and epidemiologists and has state-of-the-art facilities. Our research programmes are generously funded through grants from the MRC, BBSRC, NIH (USA), Wellcome Trust, Leverhulme Trust, Arthritis Research UK and other charities. Through the leadership within the institute the University of Liverpool is one of three academic partners in the MRC-Arthritis Research UK Centre for Integrated research into Musculoskeletal Ageing (CIMA).

The key principle behind our research is the recognition over the last decade that to elucidate cell, organ or organismal function in health and disease requires an integrated approach, utilising cutting-edge technologies.

Our research activity ranges from molecules to population and from laboratory to bedside. We have over 100 research-active staff creating new insights into bioscience, epidemiology, health issues, patients, lifestyles and care.

These insights are translating into real world benefits, such as the new approaches we have developed to prevent muscle wasting in intensive care patients delivering this kind of return on investment has helped us to attract extensive funding, with partners including Wellcome Trust, UK Research Councils, NIH (USA), Unilever and GSK.

Our UK partners include the University of Sheffield and Newcastle University, whilst international collaborators include Masstricht University, the University of Michigan, the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center and Xi'an Jiaotong University.

Thanks to the new cutting-edge facilities in the University of Liverpool’s William Henry Duncan Building we have an innovative workspace for clinical and non-clinical scientists to carry out their research into diseases and the mechanisms behind them. 

With these extensive in-house research facilities and strong UK and global academic partners, we are well placed to continue our mission and realise our ambitious plans in the ageing and chronic disease field.

Research interests

We particularly welcome research proposals that match those of our researchers, including:

  • The molecular and cellular process leading to age-related decline in musculoskeletal tissues
  • Exciting approaches to enhance regeneration of tissues affected by frailty and age
  • Understanding how age affects the biomechanics of gait and posture
  • How a one health approach can help us to understand the effects of age and obesity in man and in animals.


Our facilities for research and study are impressive - not just in the new William Henry Duncan Building where the Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease is based, but across the Liverpool campus, and at Leahurst, home to our colleagues in the Faculty of Veterinary Science.

We have bright open-plan laboratories, containing state-of-the-art equipment for tissue culture, imaging technologies, microscopy, histology, electrophysiology and other disciplines.

Our technology includes the integrated bi-planar x-ray and video imaging system used in the study and research of musculoskeletal biomechanics, and the micro CT scanner for complex scans on the tiniest scale.

We also have a specialist gait laboratory, where recent successes included proving the mechanisms of the human foot are not as unique as first thought.

Research groups

  • Bone and Cartilage
  • Clinical Rheumatology
  • Clinical Veterinary Science
  • Evolutionary Biomechanics
  • Muscle
  • Rare diseases
  • Tendon and ligament

Study options and fees


The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) can be thought of as a shorter version of the PhD. It requires the same research skills, training, planning, and project management. It can be a way to assess whether you wish to undertake doctoral research - or it can be taken for its own sake.

Duration Fees: Home and EU Students Fees: International Students
Full time 2-4 years £4,260 £19,850 (Lab based programmes) £16,150 (Non Lab based programmes)
Part time 4-6 years £2,130 £9,925 (Lab based programmes) £8,075 (Non Lab based programmes)

A doctoral degree is awarded to students that have demonstrated the ability to conceptualise, design, and implement a substantial research project that results in new knowledge, applications, or understanding in their field of study. During your research, you can expect to draw on direct clinical and observational experience to produce an original thesis of 80,000-100,000 words. You'll be part of a research group which matches your research interests. Research groups offer opportunities for cross-disciplinary research collaboration, as well as support and expertise for your research.

Duration Fees: Home and EU Students Fees: International Students
Full time 2-4 years £4,260 £19,850 (Lab based programmes) £16,150 (Non Lab based programmes)
Part time 4-6 years £2,130 £9,925 (Lab based programmes) £8,075 (Non Lab based programmes)

The Doctor of Medicine (MD) is a doctoral degree open to medical practitioners (technically, anyone holding a medical qualification registrable with the General Medical Council). It is equivalent in requirements and format to the PhD.

Duration Fees: Home and EU Students Fees: International Students
Full time 2-4 years £4,260 £19,850 (Lab based programmes) £16,150 (Non Lab based programmes)
Part time 2-6 years £2,130 £9,925 (Lab based programmes) £8,075 (Non Lab based programmes)

Entry requirements

Eligibility and entry qualifications

A good (2:1 or above) honours first degree or a master’s degree in an appropriate science subject, preferably relevant to the area of interest, is required.

English language requirements

To apply for this research degree, you must have reached a minimum standard of English. You need to be able to provide evidence of this.  See our English language requirements for international students for guidance on the different English language qualifications and evidence that you can provide. 

International qualifications

We welcome applications from within the EU and from around the world. You should ensure that your qualifications are equivalent to those which are required to study for this research degree.  See our guidance on international qualifications.

Additional requirements

How to apply

Research degree applications can be made online.  Before you apply, we recommend that you identify a supervisor and develop a research proposal.  You'll also need to ensure that you have funding to cover all fees.

Applications are open all year round.

More about applying for research degrees

Apply online

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Your supervisor is your main source of academic support and mentoring. You'll need to find a supervisor before you start your research degree. It's helpful to identify a supervisor and discuss your research proposal before you apply.

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