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Postgraduate Study - PhD and Research Degrees

BBSRC South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (SWBio)

Applications for September 2024 entry are now CLOSED. 

Details below provide guidance on the studentships for 2024 entry.  Please visit the website in the autumn for details on the studentship application process for September 2025 entry. 


About the SWBio DTP

The BBSRC-funded 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 associate partners; Marine Biological Association (MBA), Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), SETsquared Bristol, Swansea University, UCB Pharma, and University of the West of England (UWE).

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:

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).
  • work with other national/international researchers
  • undertake fieldwork

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

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

We provide a broad awareness of the fundamental research approaches in life sciences and how they could be applied to real-life situations through:

two rotation projects - both allied with but in different disciplinary areas related to the PhD project.
three taught units - training in Statistics, Bioinformatics, coding, experimental design, innovation and understanding the impact of your research.

You will need to successfully complete the first year to be able to progress into your second year of studies.  Also, if you are unable to continue your PhD, an MRes exit route is available upon successful completion of the first year.  Further Information

Second to fourth years

The remaining three years will be more like a conventional PhD and you will be taking on full-time research with your PhD supervisory team.

The PhD thesis must be submitted within 4 years of starting the programme.

To help broaden your career horizons, you will undertake
• a 3-month placement of your choice, outside of an academic research environment - examples include working within policy, science communication, industry and scientific publishing.
• or a 3-18 month industry placement with your CASE partner – CASE studentships only
These are to provide you with highly desirable skills, experience and knowledge that can be applied to many career sectors.

About our PIPS and CASE placement schemes >>


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.

Further information about our cohort activities >>

A fully-funded four year SWBio DTP studentship will cover

•    a stipend* (at the standard Research Council UK rate; currently £18,622 per annum for 2023-24)
•    research and training costs
•    tuition fees (at the standard Research Councils UK rate)
•    additional funds to support fieldwork, conferences and a 3-month internship

*An enhanced stipend is available for students with a recognised veterinary degree qualification (£24,789 per annum for 2022-2023). There may also be enhanced stipends associated with projects that have a CASE partner (CASE projects are highlighted as *CASE in the project lists).

Please click on the following hyperlinks for full detail about  funding and eligibility >>

We support a diverse, inclusive and flexible work environment.  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.

For further information please read Our SWBio DTP EDI statement and How we support our diverse student cohort 

VIRTUAL Interview with Confidence Workshop - ** Dates in Nov very shortly to be announced **

A PhD interview is an opportunity to make a positive and memorable impression and this course will help you think about how you present your ideas and respond to questions effectively. Importantly you will get to try some techniques out yourself in a very supportive and fun setting. The best way to learn is to learn by doing!

It is no secret that many find interviews daunting and we hope this course will help you to feel more confident in your PhD interview.  Delivered by VOX coaching.

As part of the session, there will also be a Q+A opportunity with the DTP Hub Team, so you can ask them anything you want to know about bioscience PhD interviews.

Application deadline Midnight, Monday 4th December 2023

Information on projects available and how to apply for a SWBio studentships at Exeter, please see the projects listed in the section below.