School of Biological Sciences

Research Degrees

Researcher in greenhouse labs

Join a thriving research community

Our School provides a stimulating environment for research training and offers opportunities to take up postgraduate studies through Masters by Dissertation (MSD), MPhil and PhD research programmes.

 A research degree is your opportunity to examine a specific topic in detail while working alongside our academic experts as part of our department’s research team.

Our research covers a wide range of areas, from the genome to communities and ecosystems, allowing the opportunity for developing novel ideas and inter-disciplinary projects. Our research is supported by modern, well-equipped facilities managed by trained technicians and research officers.

We offer a number of fully funded PhD studentships throughout the year, with projects ranging across the spectrum of our research expertise.

Self-funded students and those with alternative funding are also welcome to apply and you can browse our research and academic staff pages to identify an area of interest or potential supervisor. 

Why choose us?
  • Join our lively, friendly and supportive research environment, working in our state-of-the-art labs
  • The University offers Proficio, an innovative professional development scheme for doctoral students, unique to the University of Essex
  • Two-thirds of our research was rated as being 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' (REF 2014)

Our Research Degrees

Masters by Dissertation

The MSc by dissertation (MSD) involves a minimum of one year of full-time research or two years part time followed by production of a dissertation. Students enrolled on an MSD programme can upgrade to an MPhil or PhD subject to satisfactory progress.

MPhil

An MPhil involves a minimum of two years of full-time research or four years part-time followed by the production of a thesis.

PhD

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree consists of a three year (full-time) or six year (part-time) programme followed by the production of a doctoral thesis. All PhD students are initially registered as MPhil/PhD students and are transferred to a PhD degree in the first half of the second year, subject to satisfactory progress.

So, what do we have to offer?

Research environment

As one of the largest schools at our University, we offer a lively, friendly and supportive environment. A dedicated study room allows all our postgraduate students to have access to a desk and a computer outside of the research laboratories.

This provides a focal point for our postgraduates, facilitating reading and writing as well as good communication and a sense of community.As a postgraduate research student, you’re expected to attend and contribute to School and research group seminars.

A Graduate Forum, organised by our graduate students, is held each September where students present their research to the School. All of our students are encouraged, and funded, to attend national and international conferences.

During the later stages of your PhD, you are expected to present your work at such conferences. Our School is committed to promoting a positive and inclusive environment for our community of students and staff and holds an Athena SWAN Bronze Departmental Award in recognition of this.

Leading research

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), two-thirds of our research was rated as being of 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' quality.

We receive funding for research from the UK government, medical charities and the European Union (EU).

Our strong focus on research means you are taught by some of the best academics in your chosen subject. They are passionate about what they do and are driven to help you succeed.

Preparing for your future

A comprehensive training programme is offered to all our postgraduate research students.

The University offers Proficio, an innovative professional development scheme for postgraduate research students, unique to the University of Essex. Proficio provides funding to spend on a variety of courses, from research skills to personal development and career management.

This is supplemented with tailored training, delivered by the School of Biological Sciences. All new research postgraduates have the opportunity to teach on our undergraduate courses as paid Graduate Laboratory Assistants to gain teaching and supervisory skills.
“I loved my PhD in tropical marine biology at Essex, which gave me a chance to develop really independent thinking and explore a world I was truly passionate about. I now apply the writing and communication skills I gained as a Government scientist, informing and influencing policymaking to improve the environment.”
Dr Julius Piercy PhD Marine Biology, 2011-2015
A sample being held up to the light in a lab
Our research

Our research covers the whole spectrum of biology – from the cell right through to communities and ecosystems. Two-thirds of our research was rated as 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' (REF 2014)

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Get in touch
Emma Revill Graduate Administrator