School of Life Sciences

Scholarships and funding

Supporting your studies

We offer funding opportunities to support both undergraduate and postgraduate students, including a broad range of University of Essex scholarships, and postgraduate research studentships within the School and from ARIES DTP.


Our range of scholarships and bursaries to support talented students ensure we remain accessible to all with the potential to succeed, regardless of financial circumstances.

Search our Scholarship Finder to see the funding you can apply for.

PhD studentships

PhD studentships are offered by the Faculty of Science and Health, the School of Life Sciences, ARIES (NERC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership) and the EU (Horizon 2020). Details of our current opportunities are listed below. For further information, please contact the Graduate Administrator, Emma Revill (

Departmental studentships

Persistent chemical threats in the estuarine environment: sources and solutions to marine water quality challenges in the Native European Oyster 

This PhD will focus on determining the distribution, type, abundance and source of PAHs in the Blackwater, Crouch, Roach and Colne Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) in Essex, UK. Importantly the project will determine whether the distribution of PAHs in the sediments, water and catchment infrastructure impact wild shellfish beds, and particularly protected native oyster beds in the MCZ.

Lead department: School of Life Sciences

Closing date:15 March 2020 (We are looking for the studentship to start as soon as possible in 2020, with April 2020 at the latest. As a result we may terminate the search if a suitable candidate is found before the deadline)

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Environmental drivers of food web structure and energy flux in marine ecosystems

This PhD will aim to determine the major drivers of trophic complexity and biomass distributions in marine ecosystems.

The candidate will join the Ecology and Environmental Microbiology Group at the University of Essex and will also work with researchers at Cefas in Lowestoft.

Department: School of Life Sciences

Closing date: 22 March 2020.

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Faculty studentships

The impact of gene expression noise on plant fitness under stress conditions linked to climate change

This PhD aims to investigate whether evolution has fine-tuned noise-generating mechanisms and genetic network architectures leading to plant diversity enhancing stress responses and survival.

We will use existing timeseries gene expression datasets to investigate the patterns of noise in Arabidopsis exposed to short term (high-light, pathogen infections) and long-term (drought, senescence) stress conditions.

Lead department: School of Life Sciences (in collaboration with the Department of Mathematical Sciences)

Closing date: 31 March 2020

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Engineering biological soft microrobots for the treatment of cancer

We will integrate microrobotics (CSEE) with stem cell and cancer biology (Life Sciences) to develop a novel microrobotics platform for efficient and effective delivery of therapeutic mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs).

These MSCs will be genetically modified to express an anti-cancer protein known as TRAIL that induces cancer cell death, leaving normal tissues unaffected.

Furthermore, to show proof of concepts in feedback swarm control of microrobots, we will be using an optical camera integrated with actuation system.

Lead department: School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (in collaboration with the School of Life Sciences)

Closing date: 31 March 2020

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AI-farming: AI-powered intelligent autonomous systems for smart farming

This interdisciplinary project aims to undertake PhD research in AI-powered intelligent systems for smart farming.

The researched systems are expected to provide growers with crop stress diagnostics and intervention strategies. It will increase crop productivity while protecting the environment.

Lead department: School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (in collaboration with the School of Life Sciences).

Closing date: 31 March 2020

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Design of advanced coding and random access techniques for DNA storage

This project aims to develop efficient error-correcting codes (ECCs) and random access techniques for DNA storage.

By viewing DNA storage as a communication channel, we will design robust ECCs and their associated decoding schemes to combat the errors (e.g., insertion, deletion, and substitution) that arise in DNA synthesis and sequencing processes.

Lead department: School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (in collaboration with the School of Life Sciences and Department of Mathematical Sciences).

Closing date: 31 March 2020

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Mathematical approaches in inferring gene regulatory networks mediating the transition between early and late stages of plants' response to drought

Water limitation in agriculture is increasing due to urbanisation, industrialisation, depletion of aquifers and climate change.

Reduced water availability leads to drought stress, a major constraint on the productivity of crop plants. Understanding the mechanisms of drought response is essential for the improvement of plant performance.

The project is expected to lead to improved accuracy of inferring water deficit-associated GRNs that will improve the success rate of identifying novel drought-responsive genes, which will be validated experimentally in Arabidopsis and crop plant species.

Lead department: Department of Mathematical Sciences (in collaboration with the School of Life Sciences)

Closing date: 31 March 2020

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MSD Studentships

A Master of Science by Disseration (MSD) is a one-year research degree. The School of Life Sciences offers several MSD courses in a range of specialist subjects.

We do not currently have an MSD studentship opportunities available.

Why should you do your research at Essex?

At the University of Essex, you can perform exciting research with excellent supervision that strikes the balance between guidance and encouraging independence.

You belong to intellectually stimulating research groups, and, importantly, will find a friendly, supportive environment within departments and across the university.

Through our unique professional development scheme Proficio, Essex provides outstanding financial support for training, field work, and conference participation.

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Stay with us

If you're one of our graduates, studied abroad with us, or have a spouse or partner studying here as a full-time international student paying overseas fees, we'll give you a loyalty discount of up to 33% on the tuition fee for your first year of postgraduate study at Essex.

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