South West Biosciences 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, Langford campus
Part-time study available No, full-time only
Part-time study will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.
Start date September 2020

Programme overview

The South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (SWBio DTP) is led by the University of Bristol, together with the Universities of Bath, Cardiff and Exeter, alongside 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 and using their facilities, as well as 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 rotation projects in different disciplinary areas related to your PhD research. 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.

As part of the training programme, 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 2020/21

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 2020/21

The majority of these studentships will be funded by the BBSRC and are available to UK and EU nationals (to qualify for home fee status, applicants must have established UK residency for three years prior to the start date of the programme). A small number of studentships may be available for EU students who do not meet the above residency requirements (this is not applicable to the CASE DTP studentship). 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 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 SWBio DTP cohort activities such as annual conferences (eg the SWBio DTP Student Conference), workshops, and outreach events 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) outside of an academic 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 sciences discipline, or closely related subject (eg chemistry, earth sciences, biology, veterinary science). We may consider applicants with a lower second-class degree who also have a master's or significant non-academic experience. A minimum of a grade B in A-level Mathematics (or evidence of an equivalent qualification or experience, eg undertaking units as part of your degree that have a significant mathematical component such as statistics, bioinformatics) is required.

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 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), teaching, public engagement or government.

Staff profiles

Please refer to individual programmes for staff research interests.

How to apply
Application deadline:

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.

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

Faculty Education Team Postgraduate Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 331 1534 Email:

65 St Michael's Hill


Important disclaimer information about our programmes.

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