Research course


The University of Manchester · School of Medical Sciences

Entry requirements

We require applicants to hold, or be about to obtain, an Upper Second class Honours degree (or overseas equivalent) in a related subject area for entry to a PhD programme. A Lower Second class Honours degree may be considered if applicants also hold a Master's degree with a Merit classification.

Months of entry

January, September, April

Course content

Our PhD/MPhil Musculoskeletal programme enables you to undertake a research project that will improve understanding of Musculoskeletal.

Research in the Centre for Musculoskeletal Research (CfMR) is undertaken by established groups and independent researchers investigating genetic and epidemiological aspects of musculoskeletal conditions.

These include:

  • rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • osteoarthritis (OA)
  • psoriatic arthritis (PsA)
  • juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA)
  • systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • myositis and scleroderma (Sc).

We have a strong track record of training students, and all of our senior staff have a hands-on approach to supervision.

We have a comprehensive programme of training and mentorship directed at all levels of career development. For postgraduate research students, we provide in-house training in generic lab skills, biostatistics and epidemiology.

Postgraduate research students are encouraged to take part in patient/public engagement and involvement activities (PPE/I) to discuss their research with members of the general public and patients.

Examples of research in genetics and genomics include the following.

  • Identification and characterisation of genetic variants that influence susceptibility to rheumatological conditions including RA, JIA and PsA.
  • Identification and characterisation of genetic and epigenetic variants that influence treatment response to methotrexate and/or biological therapy in rheumatological conditions including RA, JIA and PsA.
  • Identification and characterisation of genetic/genomic variants that influence severity of rheumatological conditions. Investigating the function of genetic variants to refine the associated regions, and highlight likely causal variants, in loci with large, genetically intractable associations.
  • Identifying key pathways involved in inflammation to identify novel targets to develop new drugs.
  • Using stratified medicine and systems biology approaches to develop predictive and pharmacodynamics markers of treatment response.
  • Characterising regulatory elements and causal mechanisms by which genetic variation contributes to phenotype.
  • Applying gene expression profiling to predict treatment response in patients with RA.

Examples of research programmes in epidemiology include the following.

  • Undertaking longitudinal observational studies, case control studies and intervention studies.
  • Investigating the co-morbidities associated with inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders and their impact on quality of life and mortality.
  • Investigating environmental and genetic risk factor for developing RA, JIA and PsA.
  • Hosting national databases and monitoring drug safety (i.e. pharmacoepidemiology) in RA, JIA and SLE.
  • Using of big data (eg CPRD) to address relevant epidemiological questions.
  • Intervention studies of devices and the development of new models of outcome in osteoarthritis.
  • Investigating and predicting long-term outcomes in patients with JIA and RA including pain, quality of life, and worker-productivity loss.
  • Investigating the pathophysiology, epidemiology, measurement and treatment of systemic sclerosis and primary Raynaud's phenomenon.
  • Using e-health data to investigate changes in disease activity over time.
  • Investigating adherence to treatment in patients with RA.

Information for international students

For applicants whose first language is not English, or for those who have not recently studied in the United Kingdom, you must supply an official IELTS or TOEFL transcript to support your application, or provide a date on which you will be taking a test. Please note IELTS and TOEFL are only valid for two years.

We require a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 overall or TOEFL iBT 90. For the writing component, we expect that you have achieved a minimum of 6.0 (IELTS) or 21-23 (iBT). For each of the other components of the English test you should meet the minimum requirement of IELTS 5.5, TOEFL iBT 18.

For more information about English language tests see English language requirements.

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries. For these and general requirements, including English language, see entry requirements from your country .

Fees and funding

UK students
Standard £4,260, Low £8,500, Medium £15,000, High £20,000
International students
Standard £22,000, Low £23,500, Medium £29,500, High £34,500

Qualification and course duration


part time
72-96 months
full time
36-48 months


full time
12 months
part time
24 months

Course contact details

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health
+44 (0)161 275 5608