Find a programme
Run by Faculty of Life Sciences
Awards available PhD, MD, MSc by research
Programme length PhD: three or four years full-time, or part-time equivalent
MD: two to five years full-time, or part-time equivalent
MScR: one year full-time or two years part-time, with one further year to write up
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
By agreement with supervisor; maximum period of study for part-time PhD or MD is seven years, and MSc is three years.
Start date September 2019 (preferred)

Programme overview

As a school, we believe that part of our mission is to train the next generation of life scientists. We take great pride in the standard of our postgraduate provision and offer both three- and four-year PhD programmes. It is also possible to pursue a MD degree, or a one-year MSc by Research degree. Competition for places on our postgraduate programmes is high, but we believe that we offer a unique and nurturing environment for talented students.

You will receive extensive research training that covers methodology, critical interpretation and problem-solving, as well as transferable skills training in communication, presentation, teamwork, time management and teaching. You will also be encouraged to participate in personal development planning, which is considered a valuable adjunct of your professional development. Training is also available in enterprise and entrepreneurship.

You will have access to the world-class Wolfson Bioimaging Facility that provides a suite of state-of-the-art light and electron microscopes. In addition, the Proteomics Facility offers bespoke proteomics services for researchers.

Fees for 2019/20

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2019/20 are as follows:

UK/EU: full-time
UK/EU: part-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 2019/20

Funding to support postgraduate studentships is provided by the BBSRC, BHF, MRC and the Wellcome Trust (eligibility criteria apply). A limited number of University scholarships are also available for exceptional UK, EU and overseas students, although international students are usually either self-funded or supported by funds from their own governments.

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

Entry requirements

A first or upper second-class honours degree (or international equivalent) in a biomedical science discipline is required for entry to the PhD programme. We may consider MSc by research applications from candidates with a lower second-class degree (or international equivalent).

Applicants for the MD should be medically qualified and should consult with the graduate director before applying.

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 C
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

Research in the school covers all aspects of modern biochemistry and this is reflected in the wide range of postgraduate projects available.

The school has an international reputation in cell biology, and enjoys an association with the Wolfson Bioimaging Facility, which houses the state-of-the-art light and electron microscopes. Our work in this area covers intracellular trafficking, cell shape and movement, and the control of cell death and proliferation.

We have also earned an international reputation for our research in structural biology and biophysics, including rational drug design, mathematical modelling of protein structure and folding, and pioneering work on the interactions between DNA and proteins. Synthetic biology is another key area of active research within the school, which is supported by the BrisSynBio Centre, a world-class flagship for multi-disciplinary studies in this area.

The fundamental research supported by the school is often translated into practical applications aimed at understanding disease mechanisms and improving human health. Our research has made significant contributions towards understanding cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and malaria, and many other aspects of clinical research.


Most of our postgraduate students become highly productive researchers, publishing in leading peer-reviewed biomedical journals. Over 75 per cent of our students go on to postdoctoral research in academia and industry.

Other students use the transferable skills gained during their study to enter postgraduate-level employment, including publishing, management and administration. We are committed to promoting the advancement of women in science, engineering and technology.

Staff profiles

Professor Josephine Adams, (Professor), Role of signalling to the cytoskeleton by the extracellular matrix in cell motility processes

Dr Ross Anderson, (Senior Lecturer), Design and construction of artificial oxidoreductases

Professor Imre Berger, (Professor of Biochemistry)

Professor Christiane Berger-Schaffitzel, (Professor of Biochemistry), Translation, protein and mRNA quality control

Professor Leo Brady, (Professor), Structural biology of bacterial and malarial infection processes; synthetic biology.

Dr Steve Burston, (Senior Lecturer), Mechanisms of AAA+-ATPases in protein quality control.

Dr Anna Chambers, (CRUK Career Development Fellow), Chromatin remodelling and genome stability

Professor Ian Collinson, (Professor), Structural and functional analysis of a protein-conductin channel: a study of the E. coli SecYEG complex.

Professor Pete Cullen, (Professor), Phosphoinositides - second-messengers that modulate a dynamic spatial and temporal control of cell signalling.

Dr Paul Curnow, (Senior Lecturer), Membrane proteins: biochemistry and synthetic biology

Dr Chris Dempsey, (Senior Lecturer), Membrane insertion of helical polypeptides.

Dr Mark Dillingham, (Professor), Molecular machines for DNA break repair.

Professor Jan Frayne, (Reader), Erythropoesis " in vitro" from stem cell sources and its molecular regulation of sperm function and activation.

Dr Jonathan Hanley, (Reader), Receptor trafficking and the regulation of the actin cytoskeleton at neuronal synapses.

Professor Jeremy Henley, (Professor), Mechanisms of neurotransmitter receptor trafficking and post-translational modifications underlying synaptic structure and function.

Dr Mark Jepson, (Reader), Mechanisms involved in " Salmonella" infection of intestinal epithelia.

Dr Mike Jones, (Reader), Structure, mechanism, stability and device applications of photovoltaic reaction centres.

Professor Patricia Kuwabara, (William P. Coldrick Chair in Genomics), Functional genomic analysis of signalling pathways in " C elegans" .

Dr Jon Lane, (Reader), Molecular regulation of apoptosis and autophagy.

Professor Paul Martin, (Professor), Studies of wound healing and morphogenesis in embryos and post-embryonic animals.

Professor Harry Mellor, (Professor), Regulation of intracellular traffic and the actin cytoskeleton by Rho family GTPases.

Dr Binyam Mogessie, (Research Fellow), Mechanisms of chromosome segregation in mammalian eggs

Dr Fabio Parmeggiani, (BrisSynBio Fellow in Synthetic Biology)

Dr Paul Race, (Senior Lecturer), Structure, function and engineering of cell migration by ephrin-mediated contact repulsion.

Professor Nigel Savery, (Professor), Transcription and DNA repair.

Professor David Stephens, (Professor), Membrane trafficking and cytoskeletal dynamics.

Professor Mark Szczelkun, (Professor), Molecular motors in DNA damage and repair.

Dr Ashley Toye, (Senior Lecturer), Biogenesis of the red blood cell membrane during health and disease. (AE1) trafficking and molecular interactions during red blood cell maturation.

Dr Marc Van der Kamp, (Research Fellow)

Dr Paul Verkade, (Reader), Understanding intracellular transport through imaging.

Dr Helen Weavers, (Research Fellow), Understanding the cell biology of tissue resilience during development, inflammation and wound repair

Professor Dek Woolfson, (Professor), Protein design, protein-structure prediction and synthetic biology.

How to apply
Application deadline:

We welcome applications at any time of year.

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

  • Biological Sciences:
  • 33% of research is world-leading (4*)
  • 51% of research is internationally excellent (3*)
  • 15% of research is recognised internationally (2*)
  • 0% of research is recognised nationally (1*)

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.

Open days and visits

Find out more about opportunities to visit Bristol.

Register to attend our postgraduate open day, 20 November 2019.

Get in touch

Mrs Ruth Batterham Postgraduate Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 331 1599 Email:

65 St Michael's Hill


Important disclaimer information about our programmes.

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