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Biological Sciences (PhD)

2023-24 (also available for 2024-25)

This course is eligible for Doctoral loan funding. Find out more.

Start date

3 July 2023

1 October 2023

15 January 2024

15 April 2024

Duration

The maximum duration for a PhD is 3 years (36 months) full-time or 6 years (72 months) part-time with an optional submission pending (writing-up) period of 12 months.

Sometimes it may be possible to mix periods of both full-time and part-time study.

If studying on a part-time basis, you must establish close links with the University and spend normally not less than an average of 10 working days per year in the university, excluding participation in activities associated with enrolment, re-registration and progression monitoring. You are also expected to dedicate 17.5 hours per week to the research.

Application deadlines

For July 2023

24 April 2023 for Home, International and Scholarship students. The July 2023 intake is for full-time PhD students only

For October 2023 

09 June 2023 for International and Scholarship students 

30 June 2023 for Home students 

For January 2024 

20 October 2023 for International and Scholarship students

17 November 2023 for Home students 

For April 2024 

26 January 2024 for International and Scholarship students 

23 February 2024 for Home students

About the research degree

A PhD is the highest academic award for which a student can be registered. This programme allows you to explore and pursue a research project built around a substantial piece of work, which has to show evidence of original contribution to knowledge.

Completing a PhD can give you a great sense of personal achievement and help you develop a high level of transferable skills which will be useful in your subsequent career, as well as contributing to the development of knowledge in your chosen field.

Our research degrees are available as full-time, part-time and some are offered distance learning.

You are expected to work to an approved programme of work including appropriate programmes of postgraduate study (which may be drawn from parts of existing postgraduate courses, final year degree programmes, conferences, seminars, masterclasses, guided reading or a combination of study methods).

This programme of research culminates in the production of a large-scale piece of written work in the form of a research thesis that should not normally exceed 80,000 words.

You will be appointed a main supervisor who will normally be part of a supervisory team, comprising of up to three members to advise and support you on your project.

Entry requirements

The normal level of attainment required for entry is:

  • a Master's degree from a UK University or equivalent, normally with a classification of merit or distinction, in a discipline appropriate to the proposed programme to be followed, or
  • an upper second class honours degree (2:1) from a UK university in a discipline appropriate to that of the proposed programme to be followed, or
  • appropriate research or professional experience at postgraduate level, which has resulted in published work, written reports or other appropriate evidence of accomplishment.

If your first language is not English, you will need to meet the minimum requirements of an English Language qualification. The minimum for IELTS is 6.5 overall with no element lower than 6.0, or equivalent. Read more about the University’s entry requirements for students outside of the UK on our Where are you from information pages.

Why choose Huddersfield?


There are many reasons to choose the University of Huddersfield and here are just five of them:

  1. We were named University of the Year by Times Higher Education in 2013.
  2. Huddersfield is the only University where 100% of permanent teaching staff are Fellows of the Higher Education Authority.
  3. Our courses have been accredited by 41 professional bodies.
  4. 94.6% of our postgraduate students go on to work and/or further study within six months of graduating.
  5. We have world-leading applied research groups in Biomedical Sciences, Engineering and Physical Sciences, Social Sciences and Arts and Humanities.

What can I research?

There are several research topics available for this degree. See below examples of research areas including an outline of the topics, the supervisor, funding information and eligibility criteria:

Outline

The project will explore the evolution of vitamin K dependent proteins that are involved in coagulation and bone development in higher animals in evolutionary diverse organisms. This will be achieved using bioinformatics, immunochemical and spectroscopy methodologies.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of £3000 per annum are required for this project.

Deadline

Our standard University deadlines apply. Please see our Deadlines for Applications page to find out more

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

Vitamin K is associated with cancer incidence and mortality suggesting that vitamin K dependent (VKD) post-translational gamma-carboxylation of proteins are involved in pathological outcomes. This project will identify post-translational gamma-carboxylation of proteins in normal and cancer cells using immunochemical and mass spectrometry analysis to understand vitamin Ks role in cancer.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of £6000 per annum are required for this project.

Deadline

Our standard University deadlines apply. Please see our Deadlines for Applications page to find out more

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

Cannabinoids have an established role in the exertion of palliative effects in cancer patients. They have been used in cancer patients to relieve nausea, vomiting, pain, and to help stimulate appetite. Standard treatment strategies for cancer patients may involve surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Unfortunately, patients experience many adverse effects associated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Some patients also show resistance to the treatments. Therefore, novel treatment methods are unmet clinical needs. We and others have shown that cannabinoids can also induce cytotoxicity in various cancers such as gynaecological and gastrointestinal cancers. The aim of the project is to continue the investigation and test non-psychoactive cannabinoids such as CBD (cannabidiol) and CBG (cannabigerol) on human carcinoma cells. In our projects, we are interested in investigating the mechanism of action of cannabinoids to induce cytotoxicity in tumours and whether treatment with cannabinoids can increase the sensitivity of cancer cells to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The results of the pre-clinical project will inform clinical colleagues in designing clinical trials. Our ultimate aim will be: (1) whether cannabinoids can be used as adjunct treatment with the current treatment regimens for cancer patients to reduce the side effects associated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, (2) whether the life expectancy of cancer patients can be increased if cannabinoids are added to the treatment strategy, (3) whether patients’ quality of life can be improved.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of between £7-£10,000 per annum are required depending on the nature of the project.

Deadline

Our standard University deadlines apply. Please see our Deadlines for Applications page to find out more

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

Cell migration and invasion are drivers of tumour dissemination in high grade tumours such as Glioblastoma (GBM). Recurrence of tumours after initial treatment is the cause of death in brain tumour patients. Our research focus has been on the prevention of cancer cell dissemination and therefore improving survival by targeting cell migration using a panel of migrastatic inhibitors. Our results have indicated that there are specific migratory signatures in GBM cells which need to be considered when designing or developing anti-migratory drugs. This study will investigate the migratory signatures of the three subtypes in adult GBM, pro-neural, mesenchymal and classical, with the use of a panel of characterised migrastatic drugs. We will profile cell lines using Western blotting, immunofluorescence, gene silencing, immunohistochemistry in where applicable 2D and 3D migration and invasion models. The establishment of distinct migratory signatures will allow to pre-select patients for combination treatments with migrastatic drugs based on their migratory profile for enhanced drug activity in these patients.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of £10,000 per annum are required for the project.

Deadline

Our standard University deadlines apply. Please see our Deadlines for Applications page to find out more

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

Transposable elements (TEs) are genetic parasites that drive their own replication within their host’s genome. Their replication results in genomic conflict with their hosts – with elements attempting to proliferate in the genome, while hosts attempt to suppress this increase. To date TEs have mainly been studied in the multicellular animals, plants and fungi, however a small number of studies in unicellular eukaryotes indicate that TEs evolve under different evolutionary pressures in single celled organisms. This project aims to uncover evolutionary traits in TEs from unicellular eukaryotes. There will be a focus of the horizontal transfer of TEs between species, as well as the role of codon choice in the translation of TE proteins.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of between £3-£15,000 per annum are required depending on the nature of the project.

Deadline

Our standard University deadlines apply. Please see our Deadlines for Applications page to find out more

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

Our understanding of eukaryotic cell biology and metabolism has predominantly been informed by studies on mammalian, yeast, and plant cells. Yet, protists by far and away account for the majority of evolutionary diversity in eukaryotes. During the last 15 years as a consequence of whole genome sequencing, surprisingly rich variations in central metabolism, metabolic compartmentalisation and organelle biogenesis have been glimpsed within protists, and thus within eukaryotes generally. Using molecular genetics, biochemical, structural biology and/or computational approaches projects studying the evolutionary cell biology of organellar metabolism in trypanosomatids and other evolutionarily divergent protists are available.

Funding

There is currently no studentship or scholarship available to support this project. Enquiries from eligible self-funding or sponsored students are welcome. In addition to the tuition fee, a bench fee of £8000 per annum will also be required.

Deadline

Home/EU -June 30th/October 31st and Overseas May 31st/September 30th

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

The research in my lab is aimed at understanding normal development, metabolic physiology and aging-related diseases at molecular, cellular and physiological level. My lab is particularly interested on how glycosylation of membrane proteins regulates cell signalling in 1) neural development and regeneration and 2) metabolic physiology related to obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and aging-related disorders. To this end we apply molecular and developmental genetic approaches in the nematode C. elegans in vivo and C. elegans models for human diseases (such as neuroendocrine disorders, osteo- and chondrodysplasia syndromes, metabolic disorders).

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of £8,000 per annum are required.

Deadline

Home/EU -June 30th/October 31st and Overseas May 31st/September 30th

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

High grade brain tumours or glioblastomas (GBM) rank amongst the most aggressive tumour types due to their heterogeneity, diffuse and infiltrative nature and low survival. Recurrence of these tumours after initial treatment ultimately leads to the death of patients. One characteristic of GBM is the presence of hypoxic and necrotic regions. It is now believed that hypoxia and necrosis in these tumours drive the dissemination of tumour cells into healthy tissue within the brain and allows reseeding of a new tumour. We will investigate the role of Hif1alpha in this process in view of drug development to target hypoxia-associated pathways. We have recently identified members of the ARHGAP gene family to be involved in cell migration and invasion with some of these upregulated in hypoxic conditions and under the regulatory control of Hif1alpha. We will utilise patient derived cell lines representing the three different subtypes of GBM for 2D and 3D in vitro studies to expose to a panel of inhibitors under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. We will use tissue culturing, Western blotting, immunofluorescence microscopy, and gene silencing to assess the effect of targeting Hif1alpha and downstream effectors on cell migration/invasion and dissemination of tumour cells. The outcome of this project will be a characterisation of regulatory events involved in tumour dissemination as a result of hypoxia for targeted treatment in this cancer type.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees £10,000 per annum are required for this project.

Deadline

Our standard University deadlines apply. Please see our Deadlines for Applications page to find out more

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

Klotho/beta-Klotho (KLB) are transmembrane proteins that act as co-receptors for endocrine fibroblast growth factors (FGF19, -21 and -23) to activate their cognate FGF receptors (FGFRs). Klotho was originally identified as ageing-related gene when disruption of Klotho gene in mice led to phenotypes resembling ageing and shortened life-span1. We have previously shown that the function of Klotho/KLB in ageing is evolutionarily conserved in the nematode C. elegans2, which has two Klotho/KLB orthologs. C. elegans also has evolutionarily conserved insulin signalling and the role of insulin signalling in longevity and the effects of glucose on shortening lifespan were first discovered in C. elegans3. These effects are mediated via the forkhead box O (FOXO) transcription factor DAF-163. The long-lived C. elegans mutants in insulin signalling remain healthy and mobile after wild type worms look old, suggesting that the mutations not only prolong lifespan but also enhance healthspan of the aged. Aim and hypothesis The aim of this project is to understand at molecular level the cellular changes that are regulated by insulin signalling and Klotho in longevity. Specifically we will identify the FOXO/DAF-16 target genes up- or down regulated in long-lived C. elegans mutants.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of between £3-£15,000 per annum are required depending on the nature of the project.

Deadline

Home/EU – for September- June 30th, for January-October 31st and Overseas for September- May 31st, for January- September 30th

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

The project will explore the evolution and polymorphic variation of molybdoflavoenzymes, aldehyde oxidase and xanthine dehydrogenase involved in drug and xenobiotic metabolism in diverse species using genetically engineered cell lines / organisms, bioinformatics, structural biology and enzyme kinetics.

Funding

There is currently no funding for this project and we encourage interested self-funding students to apply. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of £8,000 per annum are required.

Deadline

Home/EU -June 30th/October 31st and Overseas May 31st/September 30th

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

The project will explore the evolution and polymorphic variation of vitamin K epoxide reductases involved in coagulation, bone development and protection against oxidative stress in diverse species using genetically engineered cell lines and organisms, bioinformatics, structural biology and enzyme kinetics.

Funding

There is currently no funding for this project and we encourage interested self-funding students to apply. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of £8,000 per annum are required.

Deadline

Home/EU -June 30th/October 31st and Overseas May 31st/September 30th

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

The choanoflagellates are a group of unicellular eukaryotes known to be the closest relative of animals. Gene sequences from RNA-Seq transcriptome data are over-turning our views on how different groups of choanoflagellate species are related to each other. Through comparative genomics we can also gain a better understanding on the evolution of important traits such as multicellularity, protein translation, RNAi and virus-like genetic parasites. This project aims to generate robust and reliable evolutionary trees to test current ideas on choanoflagellate evolution. The use of reliable trees will allow a more accurate reconstruction of trait evolution in choanoflagellates and in the last common ancestor of choanoflagellates and animals.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of between £3-£15,000 per annum are required depending on the nature of the project.

Deadline

Our standard University deadlines apply. Please see our Deadlines for Applications page to find out more

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

Rodents from the genus Apodemus are the most common mammals of the Paleoarctic region. They occupy environments as different as Spain and Siberia, contribute to spread of human diseases like Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis; some apparently separate species, A. flavicolis and A. sylvaticus, live in sympatry in the forests and fields of the European Plains. Apodemus are a rich target for evolutionary studies on hybridisation, host–pathogen interactions and adaptations. However, they are very underdeveloped in terms of their genomic and genetic resources. For example, most of the published work use short fragments of mtDNA and around 10 microsatellites to study phylogeogaphic relationships between populations of Apodemus in Europe and Asia. Thanks to several collaborations with researchers in UK and Europe, we have developed whole-genome sets of SNP markers to study Apodemus phylogeography and metabolic biology. We have also recently developed a RAD-seq pull-down protocol to facilitate extraction of a common set of loci from samples with degraded DNA.

In this project, we will use this newly developed protocol to access DNA from an extensive collection of local Apodemus samples from Białowieża forest in Poland, dating back to the second World War, to recover spatial and temporal patterns of genetic diversity of the Apodemus population across 50+ years of observations. This unique time-travel approach will provide an unprecedented insight into evolutionary forces shaping a wild rodent population in one of the last few primeval ecosystems in Europe.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of between £3-£15,000 per annum are required depending on the nature of the project.

Deadline

Our standard University deadlines apply. Please see our Deadlines for Applications page to find out more

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

The focus of this PhD is the pre-clinical screening and evaluation of different classes of novel compounds for potential anti-cancer activity. These compounds are available to test as part of a number of continuing and new collaborations with international chemistry research groups (in the UK and overseas). Key objectives are:- 1) phenotypic screening for toxicity against a range of cancer cell lines 2) analysis of selectivity towards cancer cells versus non-cancer cells and selection of lead compounds for further investigation. 3) analysis of activity against hypoxic cancer cells and other typically resistant cancer cells that are priority targets. 3) mechanism of action studies and target deconvolution of lead compounds.

Funding

Please see our Scholarships page to find out about funding or studentship options available.

Deadline

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

This MSc by Research is focused on the phenotypic approach to anti-cancer drug discovery. Key objectives are:- 1) phenotypic screening of novel compounds for activity against cancer cells, 2) analysis of selectivity towards cancer cells versus non-cancer cells, 3) analysis of activity against hypoxic cancer cells that are typically chemoresistant and a priority clinical target, 4) mechanism of action and target deconvolution studies. Depending on progress and interests, there is also the possibility of in ovo studies of ‘leads’ for ‘proof of concept’ in vivo evaluation.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of £5000 per annum are required for this project.

Deadline

Our standard University deadlines apply. Please see our Deadlines for Applications page to find out more

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

Lyme disease and Relapsing Fever are vector-borne diseases resulting from infection by bacteria of the Borrelia genus. Borrelia burgdorferi, an obligate parasite, has evolved complex immune-evasion strategies to survive extended periods of time in the mammalian host. The aim of this project is to improve our understanding of this unusual pathogen by studying a range of bacterial surface proteins and how they interact with a range of molecules in human blood.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of £6,000 per annum are required.

Deadline

Home/EU -June 30th/October 31st and Overseas May 31st/September 30th

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

The focus of this PhD is on the metabolic re-wiring of cancer cells which is now recognised as one of the hallmarks of cancer and is a potential rich source of new therapeutic targets. Specific aims are:- 1) to investigate cancer cell response to targeting specific molecular targets associated with metabolic re-wiring 2) to investigate heterogeneity in cellular response and potential biomarkers of response 3) to perform metabolic profiling of cancer and non-cancer cells and analyse how they respond to specific molecular targeting to provide insight into metabolic adaptability and dependency.

Funding

The project is for self-funding students from home or overseas. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of £8,000 per annum are required.

Deadline

Home/EU -June 30th/October 31st and Overseas May 31st/September 30th

Supervisors

How to apply

Outline

The aim of the project is an efficient and targeted transport of functional proteins into the viable epidermis using innovative drug delivery systems. Using congenital ichthyosis as an example, options for topical treatment of skin diseases will be studied. Suitable cellular model systems including reconstituted skin have to be developed. Skin models will be assessed for the therapeutic outcome by analysing protein uptake, cell interactions, cellular localisation, biological availability, and the fate of the substituted protein in differentiating keratinocytes and skin.

Funding

Self-funding applicants are welcome. In addition to tuition fees, bench fees of between £3-£15,000 per annum are required depending on the nature of the project.

Deadline

Home/EU – for September- June 30th, for January-October 31st and Overseas for September- May 31st, for January- September 30th

Supervisors

How to apply

Browse our listed funded opportunities. To find out more about the research we conduct, take a look at our Research, Innovation and Skills webpages, where you will find information on each research area. To find out about our staff visit ‘Our experts’ which features profiles of all our academic staff.

You should enter the project title and supervisor in the online application form.

No research proposal is necessary in your application.

Student support

At the University of Huddersfield, you'll find support networks and services to help you get ahead in your studies and social life. Whether you study at undergraduate or postgraduate level, you'll soon discover that you're never far away from our dedicated staff and resources to help you to navigate through your personal student journey. Find out more about all our support services.

Researcher Environment

Our postgraduate researchers contribute to our thriving research [culture] community at Huddersfield, in return, we provide an experience that enhances your potential and inspires you to think big and become a globally competitive researcher.

Join our community of like-minded people who are passionate about research and gain access to world-leading facilities, advanced research skills training, and expert career advice.

Reduced inequalities

  • We recently ranked 6 out of 796 global institutions for reduced inequalities in the Times Higher Impact ratings – this recognises our research on social inequalities, policies on discrimination and commitment to recruitment staff and students from underrepresented groups.**

World-leading

  • We are in the top 50 UK universities for research power, and nearly two-thirds of our research environment is classified as world-leading and internationally excellent.***

As a researcher, you’ll gain access to our Researcher Skills Development Programme through The Graduate School, to help broaden your knowledge and access tools and skills to improve your employability. The programme is mapped against Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework (RDF), you’ll benefit from Vitae’s career support as well as our own programme. We also have a team dedicated to improving the academic English needed for research by our international PGRs.

Our training is delivered in a variety of ways to take advantage of online platforms as well as face-to-face workshops and courses. You can access a range of bespoke training opportunities and in-person events that are tailored to each stage of your journey;

  • Sessions on PhD thesis writing, publications and journals, post-doctoral opportunities, poster and conference presentations, networking, and international travel opportunities

  • opportunity to work and study abroad via the Turing Scheme through The Graduate School

  • Externally accredited training programme with Advance HE (HEA) and CMI

  • Online research training support accessed through a dedicated researcher module in Brightspace, the University’s Virtual Learning Environment

  • We also hold a series of PGR focussed events such as 3 Minute Thesis PGR led research conference informal events throughout the year.

**THE Impact Rankings 2022

*** REF2021

Important information

We will always try to deliver your course as described on this web page. However, sometimes we may have to make changes as set out below.

When you are offered a place on a research degree, your offer will include confirmation of your supervisory team, and the topic you will be researching.

Whilst the University will use reasonable efforts to ensure your supervisory team remains the same, sometimes it may be necessary to make changes to your team for reasons outside the University’s control, for example if your supervisor leaves the University, or suffers from long term illness. Where this is the case, we will discuss these difficulties with you and seek to either put in place a new supervisory team, or help you to transfer to another research facility, in accordance with our Student Protection Plan.

Changes may also be necessary because of circumstances outside our reasonable control, for example the University being unable to access its buildings due to fire, flood or pandemic, or the University no longer being able to provide specialist equipment. Where this is the case, we will discuss these issues with you and agree any necessary changes.

Your research project is likely to evolve as you work on it and these minor changes are a natural and expected part of your study. However, we may need to make more significant changes to your topic of research during the course of your studies, either because your area of interest has changed, or because for reasons outside the University’s control we can no longer support your research. If this is the case, we will discuss any changes in topic with you and agree these in writing. If you are an international student, changing topics may affect your visa or ATAS clearance and if this is the case we will discuss this with you before any changes are agreed.

When you enrol as a student of the University, your study and time with us will be governed by the University’s Terms and Conditions and a framework of regulations, policies and procedures, which form the basis of your agreement with us. It is important that you familiarise yourself with these as you will be asked to agree to abide by them when you join us as a student. You will find a guide to the key terms here, along with the Student Protection Plan, where you will also find links to the full text of each of the regulations, policies and procedures referred to.

The Office for Students (OfS) is the principal regulator for the University.