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

The Integrated PhD Life Sciences Doctoral Training Programme (iDTP) is a specialist four-year programme for international students. This unique programme has been created to train the next generation of leading international scientists and clinicians in all aspects of human life science.

The iDTP combines PhD research with a programme of structured research, professional and subject-specific training, which allows you to choose a life sciences subject that suits your research and professional interests.

The programme takes four years (compared to three years for a non-integrated PhD programme) to successfully complete, leading to you being awarded a PhD in Integrated Studies. The programme has been specifically designed for researchers from outside the UK to provide additional support for you to adapt to the UK educational system. It will suit individuals joining a PhD programme without a Masters degree, or for those with a Masters degree that did not focus on developing research skills. 

The iDTP offers high quality research-based training, which integrates technical skills for laboratory or epidemiology-based research across a wide breadth of human life sciences subjects; analytical skills for quantitative or qualitative research; communication skills for diverse audiences; and core transferable skills such as organisation and time management. 

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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 consist of 80 credits of compulsory taught modules and 100 credits of research. The first year will focus on research training with an emphasis on gaining research skills.

Year one

Subject specific module (20 credits)

You will undertake one Life Science subject specific module, and can chose from the list below. Please select two modules and rank them in order of preference on the module selection form. This needs to be uploaded alongside your application.

Applied Health Research and Healthcare Management

Biomedical Sciences


Cancer and Genomics


Immunology and Infection

Microbiology and Infection

  • Core concepts and skills in Microbiology
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Antibiotics: past, present and future 
  • Principles of Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Antibiotics, Microbial Surfaces and Surface Interactions
  • Omics of Pathogens

Molecular Biotechnology

  • Introduction to Biotechnology: From genes to products
  • Research Techniques in Molecular Biotechnology 
  • Practical Applications of Molecular Biotechnology
  • Pharmaceuticals and Therapeutic Biologicals from Bench to Market
  • Funding and Communicating Science
  • Functional Genomics and Reverse Genetics

Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences


  • Metabolism and Mechanisms of Toxicology
  • Forensic Clinical and Occupational Toxicology 
  • Assessing Toxic Potential 
  • Regulatory Science and Toxicology for the 21st Century

You will be asked to inform us of your top two choices of optional modules as part of your application.

Academic English and Communicating in Science (20 credits)

The aim of this module is to equip students with the academic English language and study skills to function effectively on a pre-doctoral programme of study. Specifically this module will cover:

  • Critical analysis of longer, subject specific research texts and sources

  • Production and processing of a longer piece of academic writing for example the production of research abstracts and the writing up of practical work in the style of published journals

  • Communication in technical, laboratory environments

  • Presentation of research to a wider audience

Laboratory-based projects will undertake the following research methods module: 

Research Techniques in Molecular Biotechnology (20 credits)

This module is intended to provide in-depth research training.  Student will be able to adapt the content of this module to their own particular research interests by choosing from a range of technique-based sessions. These sessions are designed to give students an appreciation, and enhance their knowledge, of modern techniques in molecular and cellular biology. 

For non-laboratory based projects, you will choose one of the following research methods modules:

Experimental Design and Developing Research Proposal (20 credits)

You will draft a PhD proposal with your chosen supervisor and the members of the iDTP scheme. This project will be your main focus in years two–four and culminate in your PhD thesis. The student is required to deepen and advance their understanding; becoming familiar with the major directions of current research in each of these major disciplines. They will also become familiar with calculating the finances associated with research projects.

Student selected research projects – 2x 10/12 week research rotation (50 credits each rotation)

You will choose 2 mini research rotations from a list provided at the start of the course. During the research rotation you will join one of the research laboratories at University of Birmingham. You will be responsible for undertaking a mini research project over approximately 3 months under the guidance of the host lab and their team. This will provide you with hands on research experience in your chosen field of interest, enhancing your knowledge, scientific techniques and core analytical skills.

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

Upon successful completion of Year 1, you will undertake the PhD proposal you drafted in the Experimental Design and Developing Research Proposal Module, fully integrate into your supervisor’s research team. During this time you will continue to attend bespoke training sessions designed to provide you with core transferable skills to establish yourself as a leading international scientist or clinician.

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 FeesBench Fees 
 Year 1 £21,300  £7,500  
 Year 2 to 4    Laboratory-based PhD Bench fees  Desk-based PhD Bench fees
 Band 1 (100% desk-based)  £19,380 (Minimum)  N/A  Up to £10,000
 Band 2 (laboratory and desk)  £21,300 (Minimum)  Up to £15,000  Up to £15,000
 Band 3 (100% laboratory based)  £24,780 (Minimum)  Up to £20,000  N/A

The above fees are correct for September 2022 entry and will be updated soon for September 2023 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 28 April 2023 to be considered for a start date of September 2023.  

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

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