Ocular Oncology PhD / MPhil / MD

The University has invested over £20 million in cancer research which has been used for the creation of several new posts in the Department, and in the establishment of the University of Liverpool Cancer Research Centre (ULCRC) building.

Why study with us?

The ocular oncology course offers first-class knowledge and techniques into the genetics, histopathology and tissue culture of ocular cancers. The findings are then translated into patient care for prognostication and treatment by the excellent multidisciplinary team.

Luna Djirackor - Ocular Oncology PhD student
  • 100%

    4* and 3* in research environment in Clinical Medicine REF (2014).

  • 309

    academic members of staff.

  • 359

    registered postgraduate research students.


Professor Sarah Coupland is a Lead of the Liverpool Ocular Oncology Research Group (LOORG), Professor Sarah Coupland is a Consultant Histopathologist and the George Holt Chair of Pathology, University of Liverpool. She is also the Director of the North West Cancer Research Centre-University of Liverpool. The group focuses clinical on molecular genetics of cancers with particular interests in uveal melanoma; conjunctival melanoma; intraocular and ocular adnexal lymphomas.

Research themes

ITEM: CR-UK funded multicentre single arm phase II study of imatinib in good performance status patients with c-kit positive metastatic uveal melanoma. Associated biosamples collected for translational purposes include; blood samples, formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissue blocks of the metastatic lesions and matched primary tumours (where available).

SUAVE: CR-UK funded multicentre randomised phase II study of sunitinib in good performance status patients with metastatic uveal melanoma. Associated biosamples collected for translational purposes include; blood samples, formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissue blocks of the metastatic lesions and matched primary tumours (where available).

Our research themes include:

  • Uveal melanoma
  • Conjunctival melanoma
  • Intraocular and ocular adnexal lymphomas
  • CNS lymphoma.

Our reserach interests include:

  • The role of tumour stem cells in uveal melanoma development and progression
  • Identification of regulators of metastasis
  • Molecular characteristics of metastatic liver lesions in uveal melanoma: the search for therapeutic targets
  • Comparative digital transcriptional profiling of canine and human uveal melanomas
  • Proteomic discovery of serum biomarkers in metastatic UM
  • The role of a novel inhibitory isoform of VEGF in ocular melanoma
  • Conjunctival melanoma: a multicentre study correlating baseline features with histology and genetics
  • Gross chromosomal abnormalities in iris melanoma
  • Estimating survival prognosis after treatment of choroidal melanomaMedical education.


The Institutes research infrastructure is designed to give researchers access to world class facilities in the best possible environment.

Our facilities give us the ability to drive biomedical research from patient samples to the laboratory bench and vice versa from newly generated drug compounds into clinical trials. The Institute has the following facilities and resources:

· Biomedical Imaging
· Centre for Antimicrobial Pharmacodynamics
· Centre for Drug Safety Science
· Health Data Science Network
· Centre for Preclinical Imaging
· Clinical Trials Research Centre
· Harris-Wellbeing Preterm Birth Research Centre
· Liverpool Bio-Innovation Hub (LBIH) Biobank
· Liverpool Cancer Trials Unit
· MRC North West Hub for Trials Methodology Research
· North West Cancer Research Centre – University of Liverpool
· Pancreas Biomedical Research Unit
· UK Experimental Arthritis Treatment Centre for Children
· Wolfson Centre for Personalised Medicine.

Postgraduate researchers also benefit from flexible access to world-class equipment and expertise through the Shared Research Facilities provided by The Technology Directorate.

Study options and fees

MPhil / PhD / MD Duration UK students International Students
Full time 2-4 years £4,500* (2021) £24,250* ^ (lab based programmes)
£18,450* (non Lab based programmes) (2021)
Part time 4-6 years £2,250* (2021) £12,125* (lab based programmes)
£9,225* (non Lab based programmes) (2021)

* This 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.

If an EU student starts their studies in 2020-21, before 1 August 2021, they will have a fee classification of EU and pay UK fee rates for the duration of this registration. The exception being ROI students, who will continue to be charged fees at the UK fee rate, post 1 August 2021.

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.

Applicants for postgraduate research study at Liverpool are normally expected to hold a UK first degree with a First Class or Upper Second Class degree classification, or a Second Class degree plus a Master’s degree. Equivalent international qualifications are also accepted, and their equivalence will be evaluated on the basis of the information provided by the National Academic Recognition and Information Centre (NARIC) as well as internal guidance based on our experience of a qualification’s suitability as a preparation for our programmes.

We welcome applications from 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.  You'll also need to ensure that you have funding to cover all fees.

Applications are open all year round.

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