Microbial and Cellular Sciences PhD

As a microbiologist, I have found the laboratory facilities and equipment to be first class throughout my PhD. My supervisors have proved invaluable and make every effort to ensure I am both content and on the right track with my project.

Daniel Griffin PhD Microbial and Cellular Sciences

Why choose this course?

The School of Biosciences and Medicine is home to a vibrant research community and has well-established collaborations with industry and clinical practice. 

What you will study

The aim of the Department of Microbial Sciences is to study biological processes in micro-organisms and eukaryotic cells at the physiological and molecular level. Our academics are engaged in research relating to microbial bioproduct formation, cancer, vaccine biology, immunology, cell biology, and bacterial and viral pathogenesis in humans and animals.

Microbes currently under investigation include the Mycobacteria, Streptomyces, Neisseria, Escherichia coli, Vibrio and Campylobacter, as well as viruses and yeast.  

Virology studies centre around interactions with the host ribosomal apparatus and are augmented by fundamental work on the translational apparatus of eukaryotic cells. We specialise in studies employing an integrated systems biology approach encompassing laboratory and computational investigation.

Research facilities and equipment

We have access to a number of core technologies and instruments to carry out our research. This includes facilities for:

  • Functional genomics (microarray, sequencing, genomics, transcriptomics)
  • Computational biology/bioinformatics (data mining, systems biology, pathway modelling, fluxomics)
  • Proteomics (2D-PAGE, ICAT, MudPit, MALDI-TOF)
  • Metabolomics (GC-MS-MS, GC-MS, LC-MS)
  • BIOLOG and bio-imaging (laser scanning confocal and fluorescence microscopy, flow cytometry, fluorescence-activated cell sorting, in situ hybridisation)

PhD overview

As a PhD student at Surrey, you’ll receive individual tuition in your specialist field, as well as tailored research training. We specialise in studies employing an integrated systems biology approach encompassing clinical, laboratory and computational investigation.

Close links with industry and clinical practice are encouraged, and many of our projects are directly sponsored by industry.

At the core of our PhD programmes are the regular meetings that you will have with your supervisors. In the first year, you will – with the guidance and support of your supervisors – lay the foundations of your research by learning techniques, planning the structure of your work and starting to gather data, based on an agreed timetable. Your supervisors will guide you on how to present at conferences and on the process of getting research data published.

PhD students are initially registered for a probationary period and proceed to full PhD registration after one year, subject to a successful confirmation report and viva voce exam. The research towards a PhD normally takes approximately three years, with a further year to write the PhD thesis and take the viva voce exam.

Research areas

  • Cancer, including embryonic gene targeting, viral and gene cancer therapies, biomarkers and clinical trials
  • Infectious diseases, including mycobacterial and meningococcal disease, zoonotic diseases, RNA enteric viruses, viral and bacterial veterinary pathogens
  • Computational and systems biology

Recent projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Pathogenesis of bacterial and viral infections
  • Novel vaccines against tuberculosis
  • The creation of whole genome computational models of bacterial metabolism
  • Biotechnology for microbial fuel cells and antibiotic production


Every year we offer a number of funded studentships. These are advertised on the Faculty studentships and scholarships page as and when they become available.

Research award

All postgraduate researchers are eligible for the University’s Postgraduate Student of the Year award.

Related research areas

Related departments/schools

Course facts

Qualification Study mode Course length Start date
PhD Full-time 30-48 months October, April
PhD Part-time 60-96 months October, April

Entry Requirements

Candidates should have 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, as is a good command of the English language. Please contact the Department of Microbial Sciences to discuss your experience and qualifications.

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

IELTS minimum overall: 7.0

IELTS minimum by component: 6.5

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time £4195 £20,000
Part-time £2100 £10,000

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2017/18 only. All fees are subject to annual review.

Overseas students applying for 2017 entry should please note that annual fees will rise by four per cent (rounded up to the nearest £100) for each year of study.

A complete list of all fees for our research programmes

Doctoral College

Our Doctoral College supports researcher excellence and employability across the doctoral and early career stages of the researcher journey.

Find out more

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).

Our academic staff

Our students