MPhil / PhD / MD

The Department of Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology provides excellent opportunities for basic and clinical research on drug safety science, immuno-pharmacology, individualized medicines, nanomedicines and HIV.

Word leader in drug safety and personalised medicine

The department is among the most highly rated for research in the United Kingdom and hosts the MRC funded Centre for Drug Safety Science and the Wolfson Centre for Personalized Medicine.

Being a PhD student at the Centre for Drug Safety Science is challenging but rewarding. I'm proud to be part of the department of Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology which won the Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2018 for its achievements in research.

Arun Tailor - Pharmacology PhD student
  • 100%

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

  • 359

    postgraduate research students.

  • 309

    academic members of staff.

Research at Liverpool

The department has state-of-the-art research facilities and we have funding from sources including MRC, BBSRC, Wellcome Trust, NIHR, Wolfson Foundation and the EU. 

Our focus is on research that is directed towards understanding disease processes, defining therapeutic strategies for intervention, and the scientific basis of drug safety. The ultimate aim of this research is to translate laboratory findings into the clinic for the benefit of patients, the public and the healthcare system.

Our research specifically focuses on the following areas:

  • Drug Safety Science - We undertake fundamental clinical and basic research into the causes, characteristics and consequences of adverse drug reactions to improve the benefit-risk ratio of current and new medicines
  • Personalized Medicine – We aim to identify the specific differences which cause individuals to respond to drugs differently
  • Immuno-pharmacology -  We undertake basic and clinical research to characterize drug interactions with immune cells and identify novel drug targets
  • The Pharmacology of Infectious Disease – We aim to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the variability in response to HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis therapy
  • Nanomedicines – We investigate the application of nanomedicines in infectious disease
  • Neuropharmacology – We are working to discover the underlying causes of common nervous system disorders, examine their consequences and identify new treatments.

Research themes

Our research themes include:

  • Basic studies which define the biological effects of therapeutics in humans
  • Non-human or non-clinical studies conducted with the intent to advance therapies to the clinic or develop principles for application of therapeutics to human disease
  • Investigations in humans which define the biology of disease and provide the scientific foundation for the development of new or improved therapies for human disease
  • Any clinical trial of a therapy that was initiated based on the above
  • The biology-chemistry “bridge”.

Research interests

  • Drug Safety Science Adverse reactions are a significant problem for patients, healthcare systems and the pharmaceutical industry. Recognizing its excellence in the field of drug safety science, the MRC awarded the department a Centre grant. The MRC Centre for Drug Safety Science is the only Centre of its kind in Europe. We carry out clinical and basic research into the causes, characteristics and consequences of adverse drug reactions and focus on the mechanisms and genetic predisposition of adverse reactions to drugs. Our mission is to improve diagnosis and clinical handling of these reactions.
  • Personalised Medicine – Personalized medicine has the power to revolutionize the way in which serious diseases are treated in the UK and beyond. Working from the Wolfson Centre for Personalised Medicine, the Departments research focuses on identifying predictive genetic markers for drug responses associated with clinical areas including cardiovascular disease, asthma and epilepsy. Clinical and basic scientists are dedicated to detecting genes and pathways that can determine a patient’s response to a drug. The ultimate aim of our research is to translate laboratory findings into clinical care for the benefit of patients and healthcare systems. 
  • Infection and Inflammation – We are committed to understanding the relationship between pharmacokinetics and dynamics for both licensed medicines and new nanotechnology-enabled medicines. Our research impacts on those people who need it most, extending from the laboratory to the clinic through to application at the population level. The Department is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, including molecular and cell biology suites and bioanalytical platforms. These allow us to define the key mechanistic processes of infectious diseases by using evidence synthesis, pre-clinical and clinical evaluations, and therefore truly bridge the gap between the lab and the real world. We are renowned for our research in HIV and Hepatitis C. 
  • Neuropharmacology – Covering everything from basic to clinical we work across three key areas: epilepsy, pain and mental health and behavior. We are leading some of the largest clinical trials in the world and our programme addresses some of the most significant issues in therapeutics. We are evaluating the use of immunomodulatory drugs for unexplained chronic pain conditions. Finally, we use molecular genetics and biochemistry, integrated with clinical, psychological and psychiatric data to investigate CNS dysfunction.


The Institute of Translational Medicine is equipped with a wide range of the latest microscopy capabilities for modern biomedical research. Our imaging platforms enable continuous correlative imaging studies from nanometer resolution through to whole animal imaging. We provide support ranging from initial project discussion and planning through to training, application of techniques and assistance with data interpretation.

  • 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


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

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.

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

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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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