PhD degree research in the Biosciences Graduate Research School

We admit around 40 postgraduate research students each year from the UK, EU and worldwide.

Postgraduate Studentships are available from a variety of government, charitable and industrial sources and close collaborations exist with industry and research institutes both in the UK and internationally. Most of our Studentships provide fees and subsistence support for UK students only A smaller number of full studentships are available for international students from the Darwin Fund (see below).

Studentships for UK students

The School of Biosciences is allocated funds for studentships by BBSRC, MRC, NERC and other bodies.

Studentships may provide full funding (fees and stipend) for three or four years. Four year studentships are particularly encouraged by BBSRC and enable the student to undertake the full range of personal development training and activities provided within the School and the University Graduate School. Studentships may also be in the form of CASE arrangements which include collaboration with an industrial partner.

All studentships are allocated on a competitive basis to students who satisfy the eligibility requirements of the various councils, which can be found at their respective web sites:-

Doctoral Training Programmes

The School of Biosciences has PhD projects in the following Doctoral Training Programmes

Darwin Studentships

The School has several Darwin Studentships available to International Students or EU Students who are not citizens of the UK. These awards are specifically for PhD projects in the area of microbial (preferably bacterial) molecular genetics. Applicants using the University Standard Application form should state that they would like to be considered for a Darwin Studentship. Applications are considered from 31st January each year and excellent candidates are chosen for available projects until all Studentships are allocated. Late applications will be considered if not all the studentships have been allocated.

Funding and Scholarships for International Students

International students will need to obtain financial support to cover fees, travel and living expenses (subsistence). Prospective applicants should try to obtain support from their own governments, British Council or other international funding agencies such as Rockefeller, World Bank, WHO etc. International students are also eligible to apply for Darwin Studentships (see above).

We also welcome applications from International Students who are self-funded.

Science without Borders

The Science without Borders programme offers funding for Brazilian postgraduates to study in the UK.

Under the scheme students can study for a PhD in science, technology, engineering or mathematics subjects at a UK university for 3-4 years. 

The scholarships cover:

  • Full tuition fees
  • Bench fees (the maximum amount available for tuition and bench fees combined is £20k per year)
  • A generous stipend paid directly to the student 

For information on applying visit the Brazilian government’s website.

Brazilian funding agencies no longer provide pre-sessional English courses for PhD students. However students can access a free online English course.

Application deadlines

There will be three calls in 2015, covering PhDs that start between July 2015 and July 2016. It is important that students apply to the correct call for their proposed start date. 

Call 1:

  • Application deadline: 19 December 2014 
  • Results announced: 15 April 2015
  • Start of scholarship: Between July and August 2015

Call 2: 

  • Application deadline: 23 April 2015
  • Results announced: 14 August 2015 
  • Start of scholarship: Between January and February 2016 

Call 3: 

  • Application deadline: 21 August 2015 
  • Results announced: 15 December 2015 
  • Start of scholarship: Between June and July 2016

Part-time study

We welcome applications from candidates who wish to study part time for a PhD (subject to funding conditions and visa regulations).

PhD by Distance Learning

The School of Biosciences now offers the option of a PhD by Distance Learning which means that for some projects you may be able to register for a PhD at the University of Birmingham but undertake the majority of the work for your thesis in your home country.

Not all projects within Biosciences are suitable for a PhD by Distance Learning, but the following research staff have indicated they 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.

This list is not exhaustive and is subject to change.
You can find a full list of available PhD Projects here 

More information on studying for a PhD by Distance Learning can be found here.

How to choose a research project

If you already have a supervisor in mind and wish to contact them directly about their projects you can get contact information here.

Training in research methods

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. 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. 

Entry requirements

At least a good upper second class honours degree or equivalent qualification in an appropriate subject is normally required. Evidence of previous research experience, for instance undergraduate project work, is desirable.

Qualifications of a suitable standard from every country in the world are accepted for postgraduate entry. Students from different countries whose first language is not English will need to show that they have an adequate knowledge of written and spoken English with a formal English test result. Once  registered for a PhD  there is scope for further improvement in English via the University's English for International Students Unit. 


The University is on an attractive, single site campus 3km from the city centre to which it is connected by regular public transport, and has its own railway station. Plenty of privately rented accommodation is available. Some accommodation is on site and International Students can be offered self-catering apartments close to the University. Most single students from overseas can expect to obtain a room in University accommodation for the first year of their study. The University Housing Services can also provide help in locating accommodation near to the University

Internal or external registration?

It is most appropriate as a PhD student to undertake studies full-time in Birmingham for three or four years. However, it is possible to register as a partly external student, and to carry out some of the research elsewhere (e.g. a research institute, hospital laboratory, your home institution or a company) provided that adequate facilities and supervision exist. Such an arrangement has to be agreed according to University regulations. 

How to apply to Birmingham

If you would like to obtain more information, please contact:

Biosciences Graduate Research School
School of Biosciences
The University of Birmingham
B15 2TT
Tel: (+44) 0121 414 5891
Fax: (+44) 0121 414 5925

Or contact the member of staff concerned directly

Apply through the Biosciences PhD course page on our Course Finder.

If you choose this method please reply to the question - "Which Study Programme do you wish to apply for?" with PhD Biosciences and to "For research degrees, give details of your proposed area of research" specify the supervisor(s) and project(s) in which you interested.

For international students, after you have submitted your electronic form, please ensure you send to us by airmail copies of your degree mark transcripts, evidence of English language competence, financial support guarantee and references.