PhD Study: Overview

phd-projects-wideGeneral Information

The School of Biology at St Andrews comprises 78 academic staff, 82 postdoctoral researchers and over 120 postgraduate students. You will have the opportunity to undertake a research degree in your chosen subject area within a School where research interests span the breadth of biological science.

The School of Biology comprises a large number of research groups organised into three interdisciplinary Research Centres, resulting in a highly collaborative approach to research and scholarship. The School aims to nurture excellent research and provide an integrated programme of training for postgraduate students. The School promotes an interdisciplinary approach to both applied and fundamental research problems and to postgraduate training.

Our PhD students are part of a strong and welcoming community. In addition to strong links between research groups within the three main interdisciplinary centres: the Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI), Biomedical Sciences Research Complex (BSRC) and Centre for Biological Diversity (CBD), the student-run ‘Bionet’ provides a wide range of networking and social opportunities.


Entry Requirements, Selection Process and Progression

The School of Biology admits about 25 PhD students each year. Our minimum entry requirement is a good first degree (minimum 2(i)) from a recognised British, British Commonwealth or foreign University. Students with qualifications equivalent to a degree may also apply for admission.

Applicants to advertised projects will first be short-listed by the project supervisor, often by SKYPE; short-listed candidates are then formally interviewed by a small committee made up of members of the PhD recruitment committee and other qualified members of academic staff. It is, therefore, advisable to contact the supervisors of projects you are interested in well ahead of any official closing date for applications.

All postgraduate students aiming for a PhD within the School of Biology have regular meetings with a review committee, to ensure that they are making suitable progress towards completing their PhD. As part of this process, all students are required to produce a written report after 3 months and again after 9 months. The satisfactory completion of the 9-month report is key to formal registration as a PhD student.

In addition to project-specific training within the research group, PhD students also have access to a wide range of training in transferable skills through the award-winning University of St Andrews GradSkills programme. Specific PhD programmes run within the School of Biology may also offer or require additional training.

Research Degree Programmes and Funding

There are many different ways in which to fund PhD studies within the School of Biology. The best ways to find out what funding opportunities are available are to look for projects advertised on Findaphd.com and here, or to contact potential supervisors directly. The duration of a PhD is also variable, depending largely on funding arrangements, but all full-time registered PhD students are expected to submit their PhD within 4 years.

Overview of Application Process


Examples of funding options:

UK Research Councils: BBSRC. St Andrews is a member of the EASTBIO doctoral training partnership.

School of Biology Scholarships: we have an annual round of recruitment for School of Biology Scholarships. These are usually advertised in the autumn, with interviews held early in the year.

School of Biology PhD Apprentice Scheme: we can periodically offer positions for PhD students that include a formal role in teaching undergraduates. Recruitment to these runs alongside the School of Biology Scholarships and includes an additional short interview with a senior member of our teaching staff.

China Scholarship Council and University of St Andrews Scholarships: the School of Biology is involved in the collaborative agreement between the University of St Andrews and the Chinese Scholarship Council, providing funding for CHINESE NATIONALS ONLY. More details can be found here.

Charities: some supervisors are able to obtain grants from charities to support PhD studentships. These opportunities are advertised as they arise.

Other opportunities also arise on a regular basis. Funded projects will be advertised when available and we would advise contacting potential supervisors directly to explore funding opportunities. Self-funded students are also welcome to apply.