Synthetic Biology (EPSRC and BBSRC Centre for Doctoral Training)

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Run by Faculty of Science Faculty of Biomedical Sciences Faculty of Engineering
Awards available PhD
Programme length Four years full-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available No, full-time only
Start date September 2018

Programme overview

The Synthetic Biology Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) is a collaboration between the Universities of Bristol, Oxford and Warwick. It offers a four-year training programme leading to a PhD. The programme is designed for students with both physical and life sciences backgrounds.

Fees for 2018/19

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2018/19 are as follows:

UK/EU: full-time
Overseas: full-time
Channel Islands/Isle of Man: full-time

Bench fees: For postgraduate research students who are not funded by UK Research Councils or (specific) UK charities, it is usual to charge a bench fee. A bench fee covers the costs of laboratory consumables, specialist equipment and other relevant costs (e.g. training) for the duration of the programme. The bench fee charged can vary considerably depending on the nature of the programme being undertaken. Details of specific bench fee charges can be provided on request and will made clear in the offer letter sent to applicants.

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to a five per cent increase in fees each year. Find out more about tuition fees.

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 2018/19

In total, 18 four-year studentships (for UK/EU students) are available across the three institutions each year, of which six are available at Bristol.

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

Programme structure

The first two terms are in Oxford, taught by staff from all three institutions, and devoted to acquiring the necessary theoretical and technical skills, through a combination of intensive lecture courses, practicals, seminars, project work and training in research and communication skills.

Over the third term and summer period at the end of the first year, you will undertake two extended projects, each lasting about 10 weeks. These are similar in scope to a master's-level project and serve as both advanced training and to help you choose your research topic for the final three years of the course.

After completing these projects, you will undertake your substantive PhD research projects in synthetic biology in your home participating university.

The Synthetic Biology CDT will produce internationally excellent researchers with key skills desired by prospective employers in the nascent field of synthetic biology.

Entry requirements

At least an upper second-class undergraduate degree (or international equivalent) in physical sciences (eg engineering, physics, chemistry, computer science, mathematics) or life sciences (eg biology, biochemistry, microbiology, plant sciences, medical sciences, pharmaceutical sciences).

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you need to meet this profile level:
Profile A
Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Admissions statement

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Admissions statement

Research groups

CDT students carrying out PhD projects at Bristol will join research groups associated with the BrisSynBio Research Centre.


Students graduating from the CDT will be ideally placed to progress to many different scientific-based jobs, including multi-disciplinary research in both academia and industry. There are strong links to diverse industrial partners, some of whom will sponsor PhD projects.

Staff profiles

For information about potential PhD supervisors across the three institutions please see SynBio CDT websites. For information about potential Bristol supervisors please see the BrisSynBio web pages.

How to apply
Application deadline:

12 January 2018. Early application is advised.

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, applying for a visa 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

  • 33% of research is world-leading (4 star)
  • 51% of research is internationally excellent (3 star)
  • 15% of research is recognised internationally (2 star)

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

Professor Claire Grierson Associate Director (Bristol lead) Phone: +44 (0) 117 394 1316 Email:

SynBio CDT Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 394 1316 Email:


Important disclaimer information about our programmes.

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