Self-funded PhD students only

Project code



School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

Start dates


Closing date

Applications accepted all year round

This is a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD studentship, starting in February or October 2020. This project is supervised by Dr Sarah Fouch and Dr James Brown.

Antibiotics are a cornerstone of modern healthcare - but due to their low financial returns, there's a worrying lack of new antibiotics being developed.

The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has made the situation worse - and these bacterial strains are now recognised by the World Health Organisation as the greatest threat to mankind.

On this PhD, you'll be part of the solution. You'll explore how altering the composition of the bacteria causing the infection could have positive long-term affects, through faecal transplant.

The work will include:

  • Collecting microbial samples from patients suffering from resistant C.Diff infections, prior to and after a faecal transplant
  • Using molecular biology, microbiology and high performance chemical analyses to probe the changing nature of GI microbiota and to directly address any long-term deficits
  • Helping to prevent the onset of new infections and in doing so, provide a significant saving in patient and healthcare costs

By focusing on the regions of the body which are normally populated with micro-organisms - such as the intestine - it's possible to alter the behaviour and makeup of otherwise dangerous pathogens.

The human intestine harbours more than 1000 different species of bacteria which are essential for health. However, changes to this natural ecosystem alter the balance of healthy and pathogenic bacteria, with potentially devastating consequences -- such as the life-threatening and difficult to treat infection Clostridium difficile (C.diff), which accounts for 2053 deaths in English and Welsh hospitals each year.

One successful treatment for severe infections like C.diff is faecal transplantation from healthy donors. This treatment repopulates the intestinal microbiota of a patient, rebalancing bacterial populations and curing the patient.

The success of this treatment is more than just theoretical: QA hospital has previously carried out two to three faecal transplants a month, saving around £10,000 in treatment costs per patient in addition to curing them.

But despite its success, we don't know what long term effects this treatment has on a patient's complex microbial community, as this is equally important for long-term health.

In collaboration with NHS services, this project will investigate the changes in the intestinal microbiota prior to and after faecal transplant procedures for C. diff, with the objective of determining the long-term changes in Gastro Intestinal (GI) microbiota, and the continued health and wellbeing of the patients.


PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the Government Doctoral Loan.

Please note: bench fees may also apply; please contact the project supervisor for more details.

2019/2020 entry

Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,327 p/a*

Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,164 p/a*

International full-time students: £15,900 p/a*

International part-time students: £7,950 p/a*

By Publication Fees 2019/2020

Members of staff: £1,610 p/a*

External candidates: £4,327 p/a*

*All fees are subject to annual increase

2020/2021 entry

Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,327 p/a**

Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,164 p/a**

International full-time students: £16,400 p/a*

International part-time students: £8,200 p/a*

By Publication Fees 2020/2021

Members of staff: £1,680 p/a**

External candidates: £4,327 p/a*

*All fees are subject to annual increase
**This is the 2019/20 UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) maximum studentship fee; this fee will increase to the 2020/21 UKRI maximum studentship fee when UKRI announces this rate in Spring 2020.  

Entry Requirements

Entry requirements

  • A good honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject or a master’s degree in an appropriate subject.
  • Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. All applicants are subject to interview.
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Make an enquiry

For administrative and admissions enquiries please contact

How to Apply

To start your application, or enquire further about the process involved, please contact Informal enquiries are welcome and can be made to Dr Sarah Fouch ( and Dr James Brown (, quoting both the project code and the project title.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.

You can also visit our How to Apply pages to get a better understanding of how the PhD application process works.

February start

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October start

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