Why choose this programme
The biological and medical sciences form an extremely fast-paced area of research that’s becoming increasingly relevant in modern society. At Surrey, we aim to meet these demands head-on through our applied interdisciplinary research methodology and our collaborative practice, engaging with international researchers, industry partners and institutions. We believe in a ‘one health’ ideology, considering the societal implications of our research from the offset.
On our PhD you’ll complete research over a period of four years (full-time) or eight years (part-time). You’ll embrace a ‘bench to bedside’ philosophy, with the potential to take part in molecular and computational studies as well as clinical trials.
You’ll work alongside world-leading researchers who are published in top academic journals (such as the BMJ, Nature and The Lancet) and regularly give expert media commentaries. In the 2020 Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES), 94% of our biosciences and medicine students gave positive responses regarding supervision by academic staff.
What you will study
You’ll develop your scientific understanding and gain a deeper and more critical knowledge of your chosen research area. You’ll enhance your laboratory and analytical skills relevant to your project, acquire a general awareness of contemporary biomedical research, improve your independent analytical thought, presentation and communication skills, and hone your ability to solve academic and practical problems.
Depending on your research project, you’ll most likely complete extensive laboratory work to generate data that’ll underpin your final thesis. Some research areas will be primarily or entirely related to the analysis of existing scientific or clinical data sets; however, all projects will require some statistical analysis. Some projects will be entirely conducted at Surrey, whereas others will involve collaboration with UK-based or international institutions.
Current students are researching topics including:
- Combining multi-omic data analysis methods to increase understanding of key diseases, such as diabetes and cancer.
- Computational approaches to modelling biological systems.
- Developing the molecular and physiological bases of circadian rhythms, sleep, immunity and cardiovascular disease.
- Defining the nutritional value of micro- and macro-nutrients.
- Discerning host-pathogen (viruses and bacteria) interactions in health and disease.
- Dissecting the molecular basis of and innovative ways to treat cancer, especially of the prostate.
- Improving disease surveillance and health outcome measurements.
Your final assessment will be based on the presentation of your research in a written thesis, which will be discussed in a viva examination with at least two examiners. You have the option of preparing your thesis as a monograph (one large volume in chapter form) or in publication format (including chapters written for publication), subject to the approval of your supervisors.
You’ll have a confirmation assessment to formally review your project. If you're a full-time student, this will take place around 12-15 months into your studies or 24-30 months if you’re studying part-time. You’ll be required to submit a written report and successfully complete an oral examination.
In addition to the confirmation process you’ll have six-monthly progress reviews with your supervisors. These meetings are an opportunity to reflect on your progress, discuss successes and challenges and set targets for the next six months. These reviews will be monitored by postgraduate research directors and recorded on your student record.
You’ll also have one formal meeting with your supervisors every month and can expect to have more frequent meetings between these. The regularity of these will depend on the nature and stage of your project.
The professional development of postgraduate researchers is supported by the Doctoral College, which provides training in essential skills through its Researcher Development Programme of workshops, mentoring and coaching. A dedicated postgraduate Careers and Employability team will help you prepare for a successful career after the completion of your PhD.
Our research investigates some of the following areas:
- Pathogenic E.coli
- Various foodborne pathogens
- Cardiovascular sciences
- Blood coagulation
- Cardiac cell signalling pathways
- Gene therapy
- Tissue engineering
- The role of cardiac fibroblasts
- Central and peripheral clock mechanisms
- Molecular mechanisms underlying synchronisation of rhythms by light, melatonin, and food
- Clinical medicine
- Critical care
- Laparoscopic surgery
- Primary care and clinical informatics
- Exercise sciences
- Cognitive decline
- DNA damage and repair
- B cell development and function
- Macrophage function
- Peroxisomal function in the immune system
- T cell function in ageing
- Metabolic medicine, food and macronutrients
- Metabolic physiology
- Vitamin D, selenium and other micronutrients
- Public health and food security
- Antimicrobial resistance
- Effect of cell wall polysaccharides on nutrient digestibility
- Iodine deficiency in pregnant women
- Selenium status
- Circadian rhythms
- Mechanisms and functions of sleep
- Sleep and cognition
- Statistical multi-omics
- Dissecting the genetic architecture of complex human diseases, such as cancer and Parkinson’s disease
- Systems biology
- Computational modelling
- Gene regulation through protein translation
- Molecular and metabolic network analysis
- Cellular responses to viral infection
- Regulation of virus protein synthesis
- Virus morphogenesis.
Our academic staff
Throughout your studies, you’ll have at least two supervisors from the School of Biosciences and Medicine, who’ll have scientific expertise relevant to your research project. Your supervisors will give you academic guidance and tuition, helping you develop your skills in experimental design, conduct and analysis. They’ll also give you pastoral support and advice, referring you to more specialist services where necessary.
Supervisors may include Professor Derk-Jan Dijk (an expert in sleep, wellbeing and health), Professor Inga Prokopenko (an expert in statistical multi-omics) and Professor Debra Skene (an expert in chronobiology).
Within the School of Biosciences and Medicine, we’re home to world-class specialist facilities. If you’re looking to research clinical sciences and human physiology, you’ll use the Surrey Clinical Research Facility, Surrey Clinical Trials Unit and the Surrey Human Performance Institute - you might also use facilities at the Royal Surrey County Hospital. If you’re a molecular and cellular science researcher, you can use our bioimaging and flow cytometry, bioinformatics, metabolomics, phenomics, stable isotope-based analysis and transcriptomics facilities.
Applicants are expected to hold a good honours degree (upper second) in an appropriate discipline, but prior experience in research or industry may be acceptable. Enthusiasm for, and commitment to, independent study is essential.
International entry requirements by country
English language requirements
IELTS Academic: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6 in each individual category.
View the other English language qualifications that we accept.
If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.
Selection is based on applicants meeting the expected entry requirements, assessment of application, successful interview and suitable references where required.
Start date: October 2021
Start date: January 2022
Start date: April 2022
Start date: July 2022
For fees payable in 2020/21, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than October will attract a pro-rata fee for that year of entry (75 per cent for January, 50 per cent for April and 25 per cent for July).
Overseas students applying for 2021 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4% rounded up to the nearest £100.
There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. Find out more.
A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.
How to apply
If you are applying for a studentship to work on a particular project, you should enter the details of the specific project that you wish to apply for rather than your own research proposal.
Code of practice for research degrees
Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees. The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.
Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).
Terms and conditions
When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations, and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View our offer terms and conditions and our generic registration terms and conditions (PDF) as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course.
This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read more.