South West Biosciences - SWBio (BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership)

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Awards available PhD
Programme length Four years full-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Part-time study will be considered in exceptional circumstances.
Open to international students Yes
Due to the nature of the funding, fully funded studentships for this programme are only available to Home/EU students. However other students with their own sources of funding can apply to join the programme.
Start date September 2017

Programme overview

The South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (SWBio DTP) is led by the University of Bristol, together with the University of Exeter, the University of Bath, the University of Cardiff and Rothamsted Research. These institutions present a distinctive group of bioscience research staff and students, with established international, national and regional networks, and widely recognised research excellence. As research leaders, we have a strong track record in advancing knowledge through high-quality research and teaching, in partnership with industry and the government.

The SWBio DTP is one of a limited number of DTPs across the UK that are funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to provide PhD training in areas of strategic relevance. We provide training in two key areas: agriculture and food security, and world-class underpinning bioscience, with approximately 23 studentships available each year across the partnership.

The scheme particularly aims to provide students with excellent cross-disciplinary research training in line with the current BBSRC strategy. Our students will be exposed to the expertise of all the partners by visiting/using their facilities, and taking part in joint conferences, workshops and taught modules. To further the collaboration, cross-institutional PhD projects will be featured that build on the expertise of each partner.

A structured approach to training is adopted, with compulsory common training units in year one, along with two laboratory rotations in different disciplinary areas related to the research project. This enables the student to refine their area of study at the end of year one, before their research studies continue through years two to four. An MRes exit route is available at the end of year one. All students must also complete a three-month internship outside their area of academic expertise. Students must submit their thesis by the end of year four.

Fees for 2017/18

Please see individual programme entries for fees information.

Fees quoted are provisional, per annum and subject to annual increase.

Alumni scholarship

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a ten per cent reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni scholarship.

Funding for 2017/18

The majority of these studentships will be funded by the BBSRC and are available to UK and other EU nationals (due to funding criteria, EU nationals must have lived in the UK for three years before starting the studentship). A small number of studentships may be available for EU students who do not meet the above residency requirements. Funding is provided for tuition fees and stipend, subject to eligibility.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Programme structure

First year

In the first year, we provide a broad awareness of the fundamental research approaches in life sciences and how they could be applied to real-life situations through taught units and rotation projects. Students need to complete three common training units and experience two lab-based rotation projects. These are in different disciplinary areas related to their field of research, and help them to refine their research interests and project at the end of year one.

Second to fourth years

The remaining three years will be more like a conventional PhD, with progression based on yearly reports and vivas. You will be taking on full-time research and likely to be based in the research group of your main supervisor.

You will also have the opportunity to attend a number of annual conferences (for example the South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership conference), workshops, outreach events, innovation schemes (for example the BBSRC Young Entrepreneurs Scheme) and SWBio DTP cohort activities, where you will get the chance to meet and interact with other students from the partnership.

To assist you in identifying your ongoing skills development, you will help to produce tailored professional development plans.

Professional internships for postgraduate studies

You will also take part in a three-month full-time internship (or part-time equivalent) in a non-research environment. This forms a compulsory part of your training. Internships are increasingly being seen as essential steps in many careers and are intended to broaden the scope of your employability post-graduation. In particular, it will encourage you to use your doctoral training skills in a broader range of careers.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in biosciences, or an appropriate area of science or technology. In addition, due to the mathematical component of the first year, a minimum of a grade B in A-level Mathematics (or an equivalent qualification) is required.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Application method Online application form
English language requirements Profile C
Further information about English language requirements
Admissions statement Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Research groups

A wide range of research projects are advertised each year. These are hosted across many schools. Details of current and previous research projects can be found on the SWBio website


Students who complete this programme are likely to enter research careers within academia or industry, or careers in NGOs, teaching, public engagement or government.

Staff profiles

Please refer to individual programmes for staff research interests.

How to apply
Application deadline:

28 February 2017

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, and the support we offer to international students.

I chose Bristol because of its outstanding academic reputation. It's reassuring to be taught by people who truly love their subject - their passion becomes contagious.


REF 2014 results

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

Get in touch

Mrs Ruth Batterham Postgraduate Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 33 11599 Email:

Biomedical Sciences Building
University Walk
Bristol BS8 1TD


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