South West Biosciences (SWBio) Doctoral Training Partnership (BBSRC)

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Run by Faculty of Life Sciences Faculty of Science Faculty of Health Sciences
Awards available PhD
Programme length Four years full-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available No, full-time only
Part-time study will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.
Start date September 2019

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 represent 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.

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, there are cross-institutional PhD projects 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 will enable you to refine your area of study at the end of year one, before your 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.

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.

Fees for 2019/20

Please see individual programme entries for fees information.

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

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. You will complete three common training units and experience two lab-based rotation projects. These are in different disciplinary areas related to your field of research, and help you to refine your research interests and project at the end of year one. Visit our programme catalogue for full details of the structure and unit content for the first year of the BBSRC South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership.

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 are 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 (eg the SWBio DTP conference), workshops, outreach events, innovation schemes (eg 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 intended to broaden the scope of your employability after graduation. In particular, it will encourage you to use your doctoral training skills in a broader range of careers.

Entry requirements

A first or upper second-class honours degree (or international equivalent) in a biomedical science discipline, or a closely related discipline (eg chemistry, earth sciences, geography, biology, veterinary science), with a minimum of a grade B in A-level Mathematics (or evidence of an equivalent level of maths).

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

A wide range of research projects are advertised each year. These are hosted across many schools.


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:

Monday 8 April 2019

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*)

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

Miss Jess McCallum Graduate Admin Manager Phone: +44 (0) 117 331 1535 Email:

65 St Michael's Hill


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