Quantum Biology PhD

Key information

Full-time - 4 years

Start dates:
April 2024
July 2024
October 2024
January 2025

Why choose this programme

  • Contribute to an emerging and exciting discipline, that could hold the key to new approaches in solar energy, drugs and diagnostics, and even improve our understanding of how the brain works and the conceptual foundations of quantum theory
  • Carry out research using our advanced spectroscopy, ion beam proton irradiation, nanotechnology and mass spectrometry facilities within our Advanced Technology Institute, plus additional facilities at our partner institute, the National Physical Laboratory
  • Join the Leverhulme Doctoral Training Centre for Quantum Biology – the first centre of its kind in the world.
Postgraduate Research at Surrey

Frequently asked questions about doing a PhD

What you will study

Our Quantum Biology PhD gives you the opportunity to undertake an interdisciplinary research programme in a theoretical or experimental area of the discipline.

Depending on the availability of studentships, you could explore a topic such as:

  • Photosynthesis
  • Molecular mechanisms of mutation
  • Enzymes
  • Olfaction
  • Nanobiotechnology
  • Synthetic biology
  • Spin chemistry and biology.

As a PhD student, you’ll become part of Surrey’s QB-DTC, putting you at the heart of a community of academics, postdoctoral researchers and guest scientists. In the first year, you’ll embark on a training programme of interdisciplinary seminars. These workshops are designed to ‘fill in the gaps’ in physics for biologists and in biology for students from a physical science or mathematics background.


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.

After your first 12 months, you’ll complete a confirmation report, which will be assessed by independent examiners.

Research support

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.

Research themes

Our research spans a wide range of biological systems and processes, including:

  • Photosynthesis
  • Spin chemistry in biology
  • Molecular mechanisms of mutation
  • Enzymes
  • Olfaction
  • Nanobiotechnology
  • Synthetic biology
  • Magnetoreception
  • Neurobiology
  • The role of noise in quantum biology
  • Open quantum systems
  • Quantum information theory
  • Quantum computing.

Our academic staff

You’ll be co-supervised by academics who are experts in their areas of research. Your supervisors will be from a range of schools and departments at the University, including the School of Mathematics and Physics, the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering and the School of Biosciences, as well as the Advanced Technology Institute.

Your supervisors will help you define the objectives and scope of your research, and help you learn the experimental, theoretical and computing skills you’ll need to complete your research.

Research facilities

You’ll have access to a range of facilities across the University, including advanced bioscience, microbiology and molecular genetics laboratories, ion beam proton irradiation, mass spectrometry, nanotechnology and advanced spectroscopy facilities within Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute.

Our PhD students also get the opportunity to attend seminars and workshops run by the UK Centre for Postgraduate Training in Measurement Science.

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to hold a first or upper second-class (2:1) UK degree in a relevant discipline (or equivalent overseas qualification), or a lower-second (2:2) UK degree plus a good UK masters degree - distinction normally required (or equivalent overseas qualification).

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.

Application requirements

Applicants are advised to contact potential supervisors before they submit an application via the website. Please refer to section two of our application guidance.

After registration

Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.

Selection process

Selection is based on applicants:

  • Meeting the expected entry requirements
  • Being shortlisted through the application screening process
  • Completing a successful interview
  • Providing suitable references.


Start date: April 2024



Start date: July 2024



Start date: October 2024


To be confirmed

Start date: January 2025


To be confirmed

For fees payable in 2023/24, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than September 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 2023 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4 per cent rounded up to the nearest £100.

View a complete list of all fees for our research programmes.

Additional costs

There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey.


A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.

Apply online

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.

Read our application guidance for further information on the application process.

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 procedures, 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 registration terms and conditions (PDF) for the 2023/24 academic year, 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 our full disclaimer.

Course location and contact details

Campus location

Stag Hill

Stag Hill is the University's main campus and where the majority of our courses are taught. 

University of Surrey Admissions

Contact Admissions Team


University of Surrey
Surrey GU2 7XH