Faculty of Biological Sciences

Masters by Research

This is a 12 month programme with no taught content; instead you will work on a research project and write a thesis from your results. Like a PhD, you will have a supervisor who is based in your chosen field. An MSc by Research will develop your academic and practical skills and can be an excellent option if you want to explore your area of interest further but feel that a PhD is not the right choice at this time. MSc by Research students go on to PhD study or to work in industry.

The following MSc by Research projects are available:


Project Supervisor Bench fee (if applicable)

Characterising the interactions between major nematode pathogens and the host coffee plant

The student will help to develop the PCR diagnostic method for improved quantification of nematode species and investigate whether or not there is competition between Meloidogyne and Pratylenchus on coffee plants.

Funded by Nestle (UK/EU fees plus stipend of £600 per month for 12 months). The project will be jointly supervised by Dr. James McCarthy from Nestle.
Applications will be reviewed as they are received. The applications deadline may close early. Project can start immediately 

Prof. Peter Urwin No bench fee; funded project
The evolution of animal mimicry
While mimicry has been studied for 150 years, there are still a large number of fundamental aspects of the topic that remain understudied and a number of novel areas of research that can be explored. The student would focus on a theoretical or empirical approach to studying the evolutionary ecology of mimicry using one or more from: mathematical models, psychological techniques, field studies, or laboratory studies.
Dr Chris Hassall £1,000
Human wellbeing and perceptions of biodiversity 
A wide range of studies have demonstrated a link between biodiversity and human wellbeing, but it is unclear (i) what elements of biodiversity are actually perceived, and (ii) how those species influence people. The project will involve experimental manipulations of exposure to natural environments in order to test for a link between preferences, wellbeing, and biodiversity.
Dr Chris Hassall £1,000
Flowering phenology and floral resources
Researchers in my group have been compiling a large database of UK wildflowers and the floral rewards they provide to pollinators.  The most important gap in that dataset is information on floral longevity, which is important as a major factor in pollen provisioning.  This project would compile data from direct field observations and the literature, and analyse correlates of this important floral trait.
Prof. Bill Kunin TBC

Biomedical Sciences

Project Supervisor Bench fee (if applicable)
TRPM2-mediated delayed neuronal death
Delayed cell death is a cellular mechanism contributing to ischemic stroke brain damage. Our recent study indicates an important role for oxidative stress-induced TRPM2 channel activation in mediating delayed neuronal death. This project combines single cell imaging, pharmacology, and cell biology to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying TRPM2-mediated delayed neuronal death.   
Dr Lin-Hua Jiang £6,000
Nutritional stress and cancer cell migration
There is epidemiological evidence that diabetes and obesity increase the risk of cancer. The aim of this project is to elucidate the cell biological basis for how nutrient stress affects cancer cell proliferation and migration. Cell biological and microscopic techniques will be used.
Prof Asipu Sivaprasadarao £5,000

Molecular and Cellular Biology

Project Supervisor Bench fee (if applicable)
RNA-replication elements involved in Dengue or Chikungunya virus replication
There is no vaccine or specific antiviral therapy for Dengue or Chikungunya virus, consequently there is pressing need to understand more about how the viruses replicate and to develop novel antiviral drug targets. Using a wide variety of cutting edge molecular virology, structural biology and tissue culture techniques these projects will investigate how essential RNA structures in the virus genomes function and interact with host/viral proteins or non-coding RNA and will explore their potential as antiviral therapeutic targets. 

Dr Andrew Tuplin £7,000-£12,000 per year
Using superresolution microscopy to image protein complex formation after receptor tyrosine kinase after signalling activation
Superresolution microscopy provides the ability to detect proteins at high resolution within the cell. This project will utilise Adhirons, a small molecular recognition tool, to pinpoint protein localisation and study the changes of complex formation upon activation of signalling cascades.
Dr Darren Tomlinson TBC
A novel genetic approach to enhance protein folding homeostasis in multicellular organisms using Adhirons
Adhirons are novel non-antibody scaffold proteins that can bind with high affinity to specific molecular surfaces, ranging from small molecules to distinct functional domains on a protein. In a cell, this has the advantage that biological processes can be manipulated through the inhibition of protein-protein interactions with high specificity. This project will develop the in vivo utility of Adhirons in a whole animal, as a chemical-genetic approach to manipulate and investigate biological processes at the cell-type specific and organismal level. Mechanisms underlying protein misfolding diseases will be targeted, by employing C. elegans models of neurodegenerative disease.
Dr Patricija van Oosten-Hawle