Biological Sciences postgraduate research degrees
If you want to continue to be immersed in the biological sciences, and further your career with a postgraduate research degree, get started at Portsmouth.
We're exploring topics ranging from the evolution of life on Earth, to the huge ecological consequences of human activity, to the growing danger posed by antibiotic resistance. By studying for a postgraduate research degree with us, you'll play a part in our mission to turn our expertise into impact. You'll also become a part of our research community and engage in research projects supervised by academics who are specialists in their fields.
You'll work in modern laboratories with some of the latest equipment contributing to our world-class research. 72% of our research outputs in the area of Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences – which includes Biological Sciences – were classed as world leading or internationally excellent in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.
You'll get the opportunity to work across research disciplines including molecular, micro, marine and environmental biology. Your research may also be closely linked to Biomedical Science and Pharmacy, Geography, and Earth and Environmental Science.
Find out about our PhD, MPhil, Professional Doctorate and PhD by Publication opportunities in Biological Sciences below, including how to apply, entry requirements and funding your degree. For more detailed information about the application process, visit our How to Apply pages.
Biological Sciences PhDs and MPhils
Explore our pre-approved funded and self-funded PhD projects in Biological Sciences, or submit your own research idea.
PhD and MPhil projects
- Quantifying the marine ecosystem functions and services provided by restoration of biogenic native oyster reefs in European temperate coastal systems
- Modern molecular techniques for old domestic breeds at heritage sites
- Assessing the capacity of seagrass meadows in the Solent (UK) for blue carbon sequestration
- The spread and persistence of antimicrobial resistance genes in aquatic environments
- Pollination precision, phenotypic specialisation and species diversification in triggerplants: A critical evaluation of the Grant-Stebbins model of plant diversification
- The effects of neurological drugs (antidepressants) on aquatic wildlife
- The Asian date mussel: understanding a new and severe threat to Europe’s benthic habitats and blue economies
- Identification, validation and characterisation of i-motif promoter elements in vertebrate genomes
- Restoring degraded ecosystem: artificial reefs as carbon sink and habitat builders in leisure marinas
- Harvesting the seashore: the impacts and management of inter-tidal fisheries
If you're a working professional interested in pursuing work-based research in the field of Biological Sciences, find out more about our Professional Doctorate in Biological Sciences (DBMS).
PhD by Publication
A PhD by publication is a postgraduate research degree based on research you've already undertaken and had published (excluding self-publishing) before registering with us.
Eligible research outputs include peer-reviewed academic papers, complete books or chapters in anthologies, and other materials accepted for publication, exhibited or performed. You'll have to submit these materials for examination between 6-12 months after registering with us.
For more information, please visit our PhD by Publication page.
Duration, fees and funding
What do my tuition fees cover?
If you're self-funding your PhD, you'll pay tuition fees to the University to cover course and university costs.
Your tuition fees cover:
- The cost of your postgraduate research programme* at the University as well as charges for registration, tuition, supervision, and examinations
- Bespoke training, professional development courses, networking, and research support through The Graduate School
- Research seminars and workshops (university-wide and faculty-specific)
- A contribution to funding to attend a conference or development activity in your research field
- Tailor-made weekly and monthly events, including weekly, themed experienced researcher-led talks and workshops
- Helping you become part of our thriving research community, including Research and Innovation services where 78% of our research impact was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent in REF 2014
- Your graduation ceremony
- Viva examination and administration costs
- The facilities and equipment you need to complete your studies, such as computer rooms, access to laptops, the Library, and laboratories
- Access to resources including electronic journals, alternative guide to funding, and thousands of hours of educational videos on LinkedIn Learning
- University support services including academic, financial, careers and wellbeing support and personal tutors
- Membership of the Students' Union (giving you the right to vote in elections, join clubs and societies, and get free independent advice)
- Access to software such as Microsoft Office, SPSS and Adobe Creative Suite (this includes Photoshop, InDesign, and Adobe Premiere Pro)
*Please note that some research programmes may come with additional bench fees.
How long will my research take?
- MPhil: 2 years full-time, 4 years part-time
- PhD: 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time
- PhD by Publication: 1 year part-time
How much will my research degree cost?
2021/2022 fees (applicable to October 2021 and February 2022 start)
PhD and MPhil
- Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,407 p/a*
- Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,204 p/a*
- International full-time students: £17,600 p/a
- International part-time students: £8,800 p/a
PhD by Publication
- External candidates: £4,407 p/a*
- Members of University of Portsmouth staff: £1,720 p/a
All fees are subject to annual increase. If you are an EU student starting a programme in 2021/22 please visit this page.
*This is the 2020/21 UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) maximum studentship fee; this fee will increase to the 2021/22 UKRI maximum studentship fee when UKRI announces this rate in Spring 2021.
Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.
MPhil full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the Government Postgraduate Loan.
PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the Government Doctoral Loan.
For information on other sources of funding, visit our funding your postgraduate research degree page.
The entry requirements for a PhD, MPhil or Professional Doctorate include a good honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject, or a master’s degree in an appropriate subject. Equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications may be considered. All applicants are subject to interview.
If English is not your first language, you'll need English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.
If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
Support and facilities
When you join us, you'll be supported by our Graduate School, alongside your assigned supervisory team, who'll help you get the most from our facilities. The Graduate School will help you become part of our thriving, collaborative research community, and help grow your skills as a researcher through the Graduate School Development Programme, which offers training, workshops and events.
You'll have access to our biophysical laboratories including equipment such as 600 MHz NMR spectrometer with cryo-probe, X-ray diffractometer, confocal-laser scanning, and transmission electron microscopes. You can also use our extensive facilities for bacterial growth and protein purification.
You can also access facilities for Synchrotron Radiation at the Diamond Light Source (Harwell) and ESRF (Grenoble), Neutron Scattering facilities at Institute Laue-Langevin (Grenoble) and protein expression facilities at OPPF (Harwell).
At our Institute of Marine Sciences, you can use the following facilities:
- Aquarium rooms with temperature-controlled flow-through sea water system
- Shallow water research and testing platform
- Quarantine facilities for non-native species
- Experimentally-controlled temperature rooms
- Molecular, general and sediment laboratories
What can a postgraduate research degree do for my career?
Once you complete your postgraduate research degree, you'll be a highly-skilled researcher with the knowledge and skills to make an impact in many different industries.
Your postgraduate research qualification demonstrates to potential employers that you're an intelligent, capable and motivated person, with provable abilities and experience in critical thinking, problem-solving, project management, communication, leadership and creativity.
Explore the work we're doing across our 6 areas of expertise within Biological Sciences.
Through our biodiversity and evolution research, we're expanding our knowledge of the diverse organisms that exist across the Tree of Life – from microbes to whales.
We're examining how humans impact ecosystems, and developing new ways to assess and counteract our impact on the environment.
We explore new ways to treat genetic disorders, identifying novel targets for drugs and searching for advances in treatment that could impact the lives of millions.
Through our research in marine science, we're working to improve the marine environment for future generations, and to make marine activities more sustainable.