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Research Degrees

Faculty of Biological Sciences

The Faculty of Biological Sciences Graduate School is home to some 200 PhD and MSc by Research students, studying subjects across the full spectrum of biology from ecosystems to molecular machines.

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We offer training programmes that will equip you for future scientific careers in academia, industry and other sectors.

Download our Postgraduate Research Degrees flyer to help you get started.

The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) sees the University of Leeds ranked 10th place in the UK for research power, a measure of the number of people producing the highest quality research. The assessment identified that over 80% of research at Leeds has a top quality rating of either "world leading" or "internationally excellent".

Our research postgraduates are members of the Leeds research community and through their work make a significant contribution to Faculty research. The reports on our REF submissions noted our excellent training programmes for research students.  PhD students were lead, or contributory authors on over 40% of our research outputs submitted to the REF, demonstrating their importance to our research effort.

Research students have access to a wide range of facilities, to support their research, and a wide range of cutting edge techniques are available across the faculty, in the world leading Astbury centre and elsewhere across the university. We run workshops and courses to help students learn about what’s on offer, and how this can help with their research.

PhD students discuss their findings

People in Science Field research

On completing their research degree, our research students go on to many diverse research careers from academia, to research institutes, the pharmaceutical industry, charities, patent law, scientific writing and many more.  Several or our graduates have obtained funding to continue their research by obtaining independent research fellowships, such as the Wellcome Trust Henry Dale Fellowships.  Students on our BBSRC funded doctoral training program spend 3 months carrying out a professional internship, which can help students decide what they want to do next with their career, and other students have also taken part in internships, such as the POST fellowships in Government.

We hope to welcome you here to study in the future.

Professor Michelle Peckham
Director of the Faculty of Biological Sciences Graduate School


Home/EU students: £4,250
Overseas students: £18,500


Home/EU students: £4,100
Overseas students: £17,500

The fee information above is for self-funded students. The fees for most of our PhD students is covered by one of the many scholarships available.   In addition to the academic fees, some projects may require a bench fee to cover specific additional costs associated with the nature of that particular research area. This varies depending on the nature of the project; please consult your supervisor.   

Entry Requirements

BSc degree with 2.1 or above in a related subject (applicants with 2.2 and an MSc at merit or higher will also be eligible). Applicants from outside the UK/Ireland will also have to meet the English Language requirements below.

English Language requirement for non-native speakers of English

IELTS: 6.0 overall, with not less than 5.5 in any part.

TOEFL iBT: Total overall score of 87 with a minimum score required in each section - Listening 20, Reading 20, Speaking 22, Writing 21

Students may be concerned following reports that the Home Office has confirmed ETS’ licence to provide English language tests (including TOEFL) for immigration purposes has expired.

As a Highly Trusted Sponsor, this does not affect the University’s discretion to choose our own method of assessing the English language competence of students at degree level or above and we can confirm that we will continue to accept TOEFL for these purposes.

Students coming to the UK for study below degree level, where their current English language level is below CEFR B2, will be able to use a TOEFL certificate until the immigration rule changes have been made (and any transitional arrangements have expired). This applies even where an individual, in good faith, has taken a TOEFL test after 17 April 2014, when ETS’ licence was confirmed to have expired.

University of Leeds Language Centre

The University of Leeds Language Centre provides a range of English for Academic Purposes Pre-sessional courses which are designed to help international students develop the necessary language and academic study skills required for successful study on a research degree programme at the University of Leeds. Courses are offered throughout the year with starting dates in September, January, April, July or August.

For further information, please visit us online or contact the Language Centre via e-mail: langc@leeds.ac.uk


How to Apply

Plant Science PhD students in Professor Foyer's labGetting started: identifying your project

  • Think about what you've enjoyed in your degree, and what topics or areas interest you most. Use the Browse Supervisors page to identify people working in those fields. Each member of staff has an individual profile, with more information about their research work and details of available projects.
  • PhD and MSc projects are often part of a wider context of ongoing research within the faculty. To find out more about the vital work happening in FBS, see our Research and Innovation pages. This is a good way of discovering areas of work you may not have previously considered.

Making your application:

Please apply online using the online application form for research degrees, i.e. PhD and MSc by research. If you are applying for funding, additional forms may also be required.

Please note:

  • Please include a CV and transcripts if possible.
  • We do not require a research proposal for applications at this stage
  • Your application will be processed faster if you nominate up to 3 supervisors when you submit your form.
  • If you are applying to a funded project, please specify this in the “Funding” section. Alternatively please state if you are seeking a scholarship, already hold a scholarship or intend to self-fund.
  • Please contact your referees and ask them to submit their references and reference form directly to the Graduate School.

We accept applications throughout the year, however most funding opportunities have deadlines, including University scholarships and any funded projects.

International applicants who hold their own funding can make their initial application through our online international form which is specifically tailored to meet these requirements. Do not use this form if you are seeking funding from the University of Leeds.


PhD students talk about their experiences

The Faculty of Biological Sciences is home to around 200 PhD and MSc by Research students from all over the world, engaging in research right across the biological sciences spectrum.

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Aaron is studying for a PhD in Neuroscience and is discovering interesting facts about the health benefits of tickling ears!

Students who have recently completed their PhDs share their experiences below...
Laura Corns

Laura Corns: Studied for a PhD in spinal cord neurology supervised by Dr Susan Deuchars. Laura was involved in science outreach activities such as the Discovery Zone.

Rebecca Caygill: Studied for a PhD supervised by Professor Paul Millner. Rebecca was interested in science communication and completed an internship with Campus PR.

Scott Jackson: Studied for a PhD in molecular mechanisms of the secondary active transport membrane protein, Mhp1, supervised by Professor Peter Henderson.

The following information may help when you are considering studying for a research degree...

Student Support

Postgraduate research students are allocated a supervisory team which includes their supervisor(s) and one or two independent members of academic staff. Together, this group monitors student training, progress and advises on the direction of the project. Students meet with their supervisors formally on a monthly basis and with the supervisory team annually, although in most cases individuals meet much more frequently. Most supervisors will have an ‘open-door’ policy to encourage their students to discuss their latest experimental data.

There is a very active postgraduate community within the Faculty, with regular social events. These provide a good way for students to meet people from different research groups – a good way to obtain extra help and insight into your research project!

In addition, there are four Postgraduate Progression Tutors within the Faculty who oversee student progress. The Progression Tutors also act as pastoral advisors and can provide confidential and independent help and advice.

The Faculty provides an extensive Professional Development Programme designed to develop essential research skills, networking skills, creative thinking, commercial awareness, innovation and employment in different sectors.

The Graduate Training and Support Centre supports the development of research skills and research careers.

The University Careers Centre can help you with all aspects of career planning, from deciding what to do to fine-tuning applications and everything in between.

Facilities and Technical Services

The Faculty has invested in extensive cutting-edge equipment and technical services to support world-class research, including specific equipment and expertise within individual research groups and technical research services available for use by investigators across the University of Leeds, including:

Investigators also have access to an impressive range of research and innovation facilities across the University. Browse the Biological Sciences facilities and University of Leeds Research and Innovation web pages for details.

Biological Sciences Research Community

Ranked 6th in the UK for Biological Sciences (REF, 2014)

Our research activity and strategy is aligned around the "grand challenge" areas of translational biomedicine and sustainability.

Research excellence underpins our training and interdisciplinarity is very important; students benefit from interactions not only within the UK, but with academic communities around the globe. Ours is an extremely vibrant and dynamic environment, with supervision and teaching by top researchers, many world-class experts, who bring the latest cutting-edge research to students' learning.

The Faculty is home to more than 100 academic researchers with expertise right across the biological sciences spectrum.

Research Expertise:

  • Bioinformatics
  • Cardiovascular Biology
  • Cell & Development Biology
  • Disease Biology & Immunology
  • Ecosystems
  • Environmental Change
  • Membrane Biology
  • Molecular Contractility
  • Neuroscience
  • Signals & Genes in Plants
  • Sport & Exercise Sciences
  • Structural Biology
  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Systems & Mathematical Biology
  • Virology

Research Communities

To faciliate interdisciplinarity we have established institutes rather than more traditional departments, allowing researchers to interact freely across traditional boundaries. The Faculty of Biological Sciences is made up of three research schools:

Explore interdisciplinary research groupings:

To find the right supervisor for your PhD use our database to match your interests to our team of principal investigators.