What the students say

Ian O' Neill

Ian O' Neill

BSc Physiology, UCC, MSc Physiology, UCC, MSc Bioinformatics, University of Manchester, UK

"I chose the PhD programme in Molecular cell biology due to the wide range of projects on offer as well as the opportunity to work in different labs in the first year. I also was enticed by the continuing career development available through lecture and workshops. Now, after only 3 weeks I have already learned many molecular biology techniques that will assist me in my career as a researcher."

Stephanie Davies

Stephanie Davies

BSc Genetics, University College Cork

"Having recently completed a BSc in genetics I was looking for a structured PhD programme that would allow me to transition smoothly from my taught undergraduate degree to independent research. The two lab rotations in the first year of the programme are ideal as they offer the experience of working on different projects with different supervisors before committing to a particular PhD project. "

Niamh Irwin

Niamh Irwin

BSc University College Cork

'Doing a PhD was, in my mind, just a natural progression in my education and career. However, I always envisioned myself doing a Masters before starting a PhD to gain an increased level of knowledge and experience in my field of interest. Then I learnt of several structured PhD programmes running in colleges throughout the country and decided to look into it. I came across the Molecular Cell Biology PhD programme here in UCC and it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. The direct transition from undergraduate level to PhD was always a fairly intimidating thought, but the first year consists of two lab rotations plus lectures and seminars. These aspects of the programme allow me to learn a relatively broad range of techniques and the knowledge needed to start Year 1 of my PhD next year with confidence.


Having lab rotations also allows you to experience different areas of research within the field of molecular biology and exposes you to some areas you might not have considered before. Also, in my opinion, the cancer biology stream of this programme gives a good foundation if you are interested in working in industry in the future. Many projects focus on topics that are currently very popular in industry research such as NF-κB, which is what the lab I’m carrying out my first rotation are interested in.


For me however, one of the best things about this programme is being part of a group of students which are all in the same boat. You always have someone who is at the same level as you and who is most likely having the same worries and problems as you. It has also allowed me to make some great friends adding a social aspect to the PhD which I never expected to have.'

Eileen Russell

Eileen Russell

BSc Pharmacology, University College Dublin                       


'As I hadn’t obtained a Masters before undertaking a PhD, I felt I was best suited to a structured PhD programme. The Molecular Cell Biology PhD appealed to me as I didn’t have to rush into outlining my final project. This programme provides me with the opportunity to broaden my research interests and improve my lab techniques by carrying out two lab rotations in the first year. At the end of each rotation we produce a detailed lab report and present the work which we carried out during the rotation. I believe this experience of writing and public speaking will greatly benefit me when the time comes to prepare and present my final thesis. As well as spending time in the lab, we also receive training through a number of taught modules. These modules increase our understanding of experimental design and data analysis, skills which are vital to any scientific researcher. These modules are attended by everyone in the programme and so they have also been a valuable method of getting to know people.'

Alicia Campion


BSc Microbiology, University College Cork

'I chose the structured Molecular Cell Biology PhD Programme because it enables me to expand my skill set through exposure to different research areas. By providing 6-month rotations in two different laboratories, the programme allows me to acquire different practical skills in the two research projects before embarking on my 3-year PhD thesis. The structured PhD also boasts programme-specific modules which give me the opportunity to acquire theoretical skills while also preparing me for my PhD thesis work. '

Amy Lyons

BSc Microbiology, MSc Biotechnology, University College Cork.

“I chose to do the Molecular Cell Biology PhD as I feel that structured PhD programmes are focused on developing a range of transferable skills that will allow you to complete a more rounded PhD. This programme provides a more supportive work environment than a regular 3 year PhD and the first year will allow me to gain research knowledge in two separate areas and give me the skills and confidence to successfully begin my PhD in year two. “

Molecular Cell Biology

School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Western Gateway Building, University College Cork, Cork.