BBSRC South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (SWBio)

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.  This partnership also includes the following collaborative partners; Marine Biological Association (MBA), Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), Swansea University, UCB Pharma, University of the West of England (UWE) and SETsquared Bristol. 

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 programme particularly aims to provide students with outstanding interdisciplinary research training within the following themes:

-       Advancing the frontiers of bioscience discovery

-       Bioscience for sustainable agriculture and food

-       Bioscience for an integrated understanding of health

Importantly this research training is also underpinned by transformative technologies, allowing you to expand the boundaries of your research through innovative tools, technologies and approaches.

You will be recruited to a broad, interdisciplinary project, supported by a multidisciplinary supervisory team, with many cross-institutional PhD projects available that build on the expertise of each of our partners.  There are also opportunities to:

-       apply your research in an industrial setting through our projects with an industrial partner (DTP CASE
        studentships).

-       undertake research jointly with some of our core and collaborative partners (Standard DTP studentships
        with a collaborative partner).

Some projects will also offer working with other national/international researchers, as well as fieldwork opportunities. 

Programme structure

A structured approach to training will be adopted throughout a 4-year PhD model, to ensure you are well equipped as a bioscience researcher for leadership positions in academia, industry and beyond.

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 co-localised taught units

Training you in skills to enable you to be at the forefront of cutting-edge bioscience research as well as equip you with many transferable skills, giving you the agility to navigate different career paths.  This includes training in Statistics, Bioinformatics, coding, experimental design, innovation and understanding the impact of your research.

-       two rotation projects

These rotation projects are in different disciplinary areas related to your field of research, and will allow refinement of your PhD project in line with your emerging research interests as the programme progresses

 You will need to successfully complete the first year to be able to progress into your second year of studies.  An MRes exit route is available at the end of year one should this be required.

Second to fourth years

The remaining three years will be more like a conventional PhD, with academic progression monitored by your registered university. 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 held across the partnership, such as annual student conferences, workshops, research theme activities and outreach events where you will get the chance to meet and interact with other students from the partnership, giving you access to a multidisciplinary and supportive student network.

Students must submit their thesis by the end of year four.

Professional Internships for Postgraduate Students (PIPS)

You will also take part in a three-month full-time placement (or part-time equivalent) outside of an academic research environment. Placements are intended to broaden the scope of your employability after your PhD. In particular, it will encourage you to use your doctoral training skills in a broader range of careers 

Examples of placements include working within policy, science communication, charities, industry and publishing.

PIPS is optional for CASE studentships as these projects will involve an industrial placement with the CASE partner for 3-18 months.

Funding for 2020/21

These studentships are available to UK and EU nationals who have established UK residency (EU nationals must have ordinarily lived in the UK throughout the three years preceding the start of the studentship).

The four core universities (Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter) have a very limited number of fully-funded four year studentships for EU students who do not meet the residency requirements (1-2 studentships per university)*. Please contact the relevant university for more information.

*These are not available for CASE DTP studentships or Standard DTP studentships with a collaborative partner

Entry requirements

Please further information please see the SWBio DTP academic and residency eligibility webpage. 

 Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Statement

We want to support diverse and inclusive work environments.  We therefore welcome applications from individuals regardless of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, age, gender, or disability status.  We welcome applications from individuals who have previously studied at any recognised Higher Education Institute and from a range of career paths (please refer to the SWBio DTP academic criteria for eligibility), including individuals who have previously trained in the sciences and are wanting to return to scientific research.

We particularly encourage applications from BAME* and mature (this is classed as 30+ years) individuals as these backgrounds are currently underrepresented within our student cohort. 

*Black, Asian and minority ethnic.

Projects and PhD studentships available