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Integrated PhD in Life Sciences Doctoral Training Programme (iDTP)

Start date
September 2023
4 Years
Course Type
Postgraduate, Combined research and taught, Doctoral research
Explore Birmingham

Training the next generation of world-leading scientists and clinicians in all aspects of human life sciences, this programme aims to advance the theory and practical knowledge of postgraduates interested in research careers within discovery, applied and clinical sciences linked to human health. It is a four-year specialist programme designed for international postgraduates keen to develop global research networks.

This unique programme will allow you to explore multiple disciplines in your first year, as you develop your own doctoral research proposal. Throughout your doctoral training period you will enhance your problem solving and analytical; communication and teaching; and leadership and management skills – all of which are highly valued across the academic and private sectors. It will also provide you with the opportunity to establish your network of peers, collaborators and colleagues to support your onward career. 

As a research student at the University of Birmingham, you will learn from world-leading academics, clinicians, and researchers, and you will be challenged and encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner. You will also benefit from personal and welfare tutors to support your studies, continued professional development and your wellbeing. 

You will tailor the design of the first year of the programme, taking 70 credits of taught modules where you will gain core scientific knowledge of your chosen discipline and learn research methods. You will also undertake 110 credits of research, choosing two distinct research rotations in world-leading research groups in your chosen field. 

In Year 1 you will design your PhD research proposal with your supervisor, and you will join their teams in Years 2–4. During these years you will have the opportunity to attend a variety of training sessions hosted by the Graduate School at the University of Birmingham, as well as present your data at national and international conferences.  

Graphic of person at computer

Your Birmingham experience

For further information about the IDTP and what it is like to study and live in Birmingham visit our dedicated site

IDTP website

The iDTP programme has been playing an indispensable role in my PhD and I have benefitted a lot from various courses and research projects. I’ve been receiving strong support from the organisers of the iDTP programme and my research team, with the help of whom I was able to work in an excellent research environment with access to high-quality research resources, ample transferable skills training and precious career development opportunities. I am very grateful to the iDTP programme, which makes my PhD journey a stimulating yet fulfilling one. I strongly recommend this programme!

Luyuan Tan, PhD candidate at the Institution of Applied Health Research

Why study this course?

  • Integrated MRes and PhD programme – one application for two degrees.
  • Tailor the programme to suit your career development needs.
  • Develop your PhD proposal at Birmingham with your supervisor in Year 1.
  • Gain research experience in multiple interdisciplinary research teams.
  • Acquire experience in networking and communicating your research to a diverse audience.
  • Develop your ability to critically appraise research in the field.

For more information about the Integrated PhD in Life Sciences Doctoral Training Programme visit our dedicated site.


The first year of the programme will focus on research training with an emphasis on gaining research skills, and will consist of 70 credits of compulsory taught modules and 110 credits of research. 

Year one

Compulsory modules include:

  • Optional Life Sciences Subject Specific Module (20 credits). You can choose from the list in this document
  • Optional Research Methodology Module – linked to the subject you choose (20 credits). 
  • Academic English and Communicating in Science (20 credits)
  • Developing a Research Proposal (10 credits)
  • Research Projects – 2x 10/12 week (110 credits)

Assessment on Year 1 of the iDTP programme is via a variety of multiple choice, short and long answer examinations, 1,500-to-4,000-word essays, research paper analysis, oral presentations, and a dissertation style grant proposal.

Following the successful completion of Year 1, you are eligible to be awarded a Masters of Research (MRes) qualification subject to funder’s requirements.

Years two-four

Students taking the full PhD programme will also complete a 3 year research project, which will be assessed by viva voce following submission of your written PhD thesis.

You are free to develop your research interest with any of our broad or focussed research areas within the College of Medical and Dental Sciences or the College of Life and Environmental Sciences:

Throughout your PhD years you will have full access to a range of support and academic development programmes run by the University's Graduate School. You are also able to receive further support and guidance with your academic English with the Birmingham International Academy's range of sessions designed to improve your English skills.


Fees for the iDTP are variable from Years 2 to 4, depending on your chosen research area.

Tuition and Bench Fees
 Years and BandsTuition Fees (per annum)Bench Fees (per annum) 
 Year 1 £23,520  £7,500  
 Year 2 to 4    Laboratory-based PhD Bench fees  Desk-based PhD Bench fees
 100% desk-based project £21,360  N/A  Up to £10,000
 laboratory and desk-based project £23,520  Up to £15,000  Up to £15,000
 100% laboratory based  £27,360  Up to £20,000  N/A
The above fees are correct for September 2024 entry.

The iDTP programme will involve intensive laboratory or fieldwork; and will incur a bench fee (consumable) cost. Fees may be greater than those advertised based on the complexity of research proposals for years 2 to 4.

Please contact to discuss this if required.

How To Apply

Application deadlines

Applications are accepted all year round but applications must be received by 26 April 2024 to be considered for a start date of September 2024.

We encourage you to apply early, so that you have plenty of time to prepare the necessary travel, study and immigration documents. In some cases, it may be a time-consuming process to apply and receive the necessary travel and study documents.

Completing the application

Download the 'How to apply’ guidance document to help you.

Click on the 'Apply Now' button and you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the IDTP programme. You will create a personal account with the University application system. You must submit the following for your applications to be considered for shortlisting for interview:

  • A detailed CV, including your nationality and country of birth;
  • A personal statement highlighting your research experience/capabilities and information on which subjects in life sciences you envisage doing a PhD
  • A document listing your top two preferred choices of optional modules outlined in the programme modules information section
  • Copies of your degree certificates with transcripts;
  • Names and addresses of two referees;
  • Evidence of your proficiency in the English language

Once you've completed your online application and submitted it electronically, it will be checked by staff in the postgraduate admissions team before being sent to the programme lead for consideration. 

Submission of incomplete applications will delay the processing of your application.


All shortlisted candidates will be interviewed.  Interviews will be held online between 9am – 12pm GMT/BST on the second and fourth Tuesday and Wednesday of every month. Should candidates have preferred times/dates they are advised to specify this in their covering letter/personal statement. 

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

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries; use the drop down to view the entry requirements for your country. For further information including scholarships, visit our country pages.

An applicant must comply with the following entry requirements:

  • Attainment of an Honours degree (normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree or equivalent) in a relevant biological or life sciences subject, or

  • Attainment of an alternative qualification or qualifications and/or evidence of experience judged by the University as indicative of an applicant’s potential for research and as satisfactory for the purpose of entry to a research degree programme

International/EU students, if you wish to check your subjects relevance to the iDTP; please contact:

English Language Requirements

Please note IELTS requirements for the iDTP is 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any band. You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

  • by holding an English language qualification to the right level
  • by taking and successfully completing one of our English courses for international students

The English for Academic Purposes Presessional course is for international students who have a conditional offer to study at the University, but who do not currently meet the English language requirements. The course is tailored to your level of English and allows you to meet the English language requirements for your programme without retaking IELTS. Find out more about the English for Academic Purposes Presessional course

International Requirements

International Students

A PhD is the highest level of academic achievement available and vital for the continued professional development of scientists. Completing a PhD at Birmingham will extend your knowledge base in your chosen subject, as well as enhancing your problem solving and analytical; communication and teaching; and leadership and management skills – all of which are valued across the academic and private sectors. It will also provide you with the opportunity to develop your network of peers, collaborators and colleagues to support your onward career.

Doctoral researchers

Whatever path you choose to take as a postgraduate researcher, the University offers guidance and support in all aspects of planning your next step. Our resources include:

  • Alumni biographies and talks to learn more about their career journey and reflect on the journey you may follow after completing your PhD;
  • Resources for writing industry or academic specific applications, CVs and cover letters;
  • Up to date information about the PhD labour market;
  • Career planning guide;
  • Job searching resources both for roles within academia and non-academia;
  • Training and skills development workshops for postgraduate researchers;
  • Access to Vitae, the careers and research development resource for postgraduate researchers.

Our Careers Network offers free online resources, face to face consultation and also runs the Global Careers blog, with posts about having a career abroad and international graduates building a career in the UK. International students are also supported via the Global Careers event series, designed for international students, focusing on country or industry specific job applications and interview skills.

Events in the past have included: 

  • Hays Asia recruitment event - for offices across China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia
  • Global opportunities at Amazon
  • Global University Career Development Conference (GUCDC)
  • LinkedIn group for international students and alumni from the University of Birmingham to connect