Musculoskeletal Biology PhD / MPhil / 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.

Why study with us?

  • £8m

    research income.

  • £35m

    brand-new research facility.

  • 50+

    active research staff.


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.

Our 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

MPhil / PhD / MD Duration Home/EU Students International Students
Full time 2-4 years £4,407* (2020) £23,650* ^ (lab based programmes)
£18,000* (non Lab based programmes) (2020).
Part time 4-6 years £2,204* (2020) £11,825* (lab based programmes) £9,000* (non Lab based programmes) (2020)

*This fees excludes potential research support fees also known as ‘bench fees. You will be notified of any fee which may apply in your offer letter.

^Self funded full time international students studying a lab based programme will receive a £2,000 reduction in their fees for the first year only.

Entry requirements

Applications are welcomed from well qualified graduates who would typically hold a UK first degree or equivalent in the first or 2:1 class, or a 2:2 class degree plus a Masters degree, in a relevant subject.

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

You must also have reached a minimum standard of English and be able to provide evidence of this. See our English language requirements for international students.

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.

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