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Biosciences PhD

Start date
3 and 4 years full-time - 6 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Doctoral research

£4,778 FT (UK students)
£2,389 PT (UK students)
£27,360 FT (International Students)
More detail


Our Biosciences PhD offers four key themes, each representing areas of research excellence in human, animal, plant, microbial, cell and molecular biology. The course sits within the School of Biosciences, which has excellent teaching and research profiles.

Research in the School of Biosciences centres around four interlinked groupings, which focus on multi and interdisciplinary research.

Each theme represents areas of research excellence in human, animal, plant, microbial, cell and molecular biology, and these areas integrate with systems biology and structural biology.

If you already have a supervisor in mind, you can contact them directly about their projects currently on offer.

Research students at the School are members of the Biosciences Graduate Research School, and receive training in many generic and transferable skills in addition to those that are specific to their research discipline. We give special emphasis to postgraduate student research training, including regular monitoring of progress and the provision of an induction programme and short courses in core and specialised techniques. 

You can study for a PhD on campus or by Distance Learning

In the video Professor Neil Hotchin describes what studentships are available for studying a PhD in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences.

PhD funding opportunities

PhD by Distance Learning

The following research staff in the School of Biosciences may be able to offer a project appropriate for the distance learning programme. Clicking on the name below will take you to their research profile. If the option of a PhD by Distance Learning is one that appeals to you, please contact the relevant member of staff to discuss further. 

There is a postgraduate seminar programme at which students present their work and all students are strongly encouraged to participate at national and international meetings. The School also provides each PhD student financial support to become a student member of a learned Society of their choice.


Standard fees apply - For international students, this programme is in Fee Band 3a (Laboratory)

Fees for 2024/25

  • Code 5818: £4,778 FT (UK students)
  • Code 5752: £2,389 PT (UK students)
  • Code 5818: £27,360 FT only (International Students)

Learn more about fees and funding

Are you an international applicant?

All international applicants to this course will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of £2,000 on receipt of an offer, to secure their place.

Find out more about the deposit >>.

Scholarships and studentships

A number of studentships funded by UK Research Councils (eg BBSRC) and other major sponsors (e.g. Cancer Research-UK) are available each year for home and EU students. For more information contact Postgraduate Admissions on +44 (0)121 414 5922 or email:

International students may be eligible for a bursary of £4,000 per year awarded by the College of Life and Environmental Sciences. For more information visit Postgraduate Scholarships and Funding. Darwin studentships in Bacterial Molecular Genetics may also be available to non-UK students.

For further information contact the School directly or get in touch with the Funding, Graduation & Awards via the online enquiries system.

How To Apply

Please note: A research proposal is not required when applying for a Biosciences PhD/MPhil.

For applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode only:

As part of the application process, we will ask you to provide evidence to demonstrate that you have the time, commitment, facilities and experience to study for a PhD by Distance Learning. Please be prepared to provide evidence, and details, of the following:

  • Examples of your postgraduate research experience and ability to work independently e.g. papers/presentations at professional and academic conferences or publications in professional journals or previous completion of an independent research project, etc.
  • Full reasons (academic and personal) for registering for the distance learning mode of study rather than by standard full or part-time on-campus options. In particular, how you will be able to carry out your project in your chosen location.
  • Access to local library facilities (where needed)
  • Access to IT facilities
  • Access to communications, including e-mail, and audiovisual communication media e.g. Skype and Facetime
  • Access to facilities to support any study-related disability (where appropriate)

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate research programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the research programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

At least a 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent, or a postgraduate Masters, in a relevant subject

Learn more about entry requirements.

International students

Standard English language requirements apply.

International Requirements

International Students

English language requirements

Standard English language requirements apply (IELTS: 6.0 overall with no less than 5.5 in any band)

  • IELTS 6.0 with no less than 5.5 in any band
  • TOEFL: 80 overall with no less than 19 in Reading, 19 in Listening, 21 in Speaking and 19 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) including online: Academic 64 with no less than 59 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced – minimum overall score of 169, with no less than 162 in any component

The four School research themes are:

Each theme represents areas of research excellence in human, animal, plant, microbial, cell and molecular biology.

If I gain a postgraduate research degree in this area, what are my career prospects?

Birmingham’s Bioscience graduates develop transferable skills that are useful in many occupations. These include experience with a variety of modern research methods; the ability to manage and analyse large and diverse quantities of information; the ability to organise information in a logical and coherent manner; analysing and evaluating complex information; and making reasoned arguments, both orally, in meetings, conferences and other presentations, and in written work. There are many careers where a bioscience qualification is useful and past graduates have entered areas including ecology, laboratory research in a number of different fields, clinical science, recruitment, and commercial management. Some of our PhD graduates also continue onto successful careers in academic research and teaching.

What type of career assistance is available to doctoral researchers in this department?

The College of Life and Environmental Sciences, to which the School of Biosciences belongs, has specially designated careers advisors and careers consultants who can provide guidance for doctoral researchers on career paths, CVs, training opportunities, application and interviews. The University’s central Careers Network also runs workshops and offers personally tailored advice and guidance including 1-1 careers advice and 1-1 CV advice. Careers Network also runs CV writing workshops especially for postgraduates, giving advice on how to compile CVs for both employment and for academic roles.

The University also has dedicated careers advisors for International students who run workshops and networking opportunities with potential employers. These are especially popular with International postgraduate researchers.