MPhil and PhD Opportunities

Biological Sciences

Postgraduate Research in Biological Sciences.

Star Overview

Research overview

We have a strong reputation for research in Biological Sciences and our modern laboratories contain some of the latest equipment enabling us to undertake world-class research. Enjoy a lively research culture and engage in a variety of research projects, supervised by our academics, who are specialists in their fields.

You have the opportunity to work across a range of research disciplines including, molecular, micro, marine and environmental biology. Research within the field of Biology may also be closely linked to: Biomedical Science and Pharmacy, Geography, Earth and Environmental Science. 

Research centres

The Institute of Biological and Biomedical Science (IBBS)

The Institute of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (IBBS) serves as a focus for multidisciplinary research in the biomedical sciences, including both fundamental studies and applied research in the molecular biosciences. Molecular biology is supported by a dedicated molecular modelling centre, a 600 MHz NMR facility, as well as apparatus for DNA profiling and array analysis, while mass spectrometer and gas chromatography/mass spectrometers are available for detailed sample analyses. A further highlight is the European Xenopus Resource Centre funded by the Wellcome Trust, which opened in April 2007.

Research Groups

Biodiversity and Evolution group
Our group explores the diversity of life at levels ranging from the molecular and genetic, to organismal and ecosystem.

Epigenetics and Developmental group
We are interested in the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of development and differentiation.

Ecotoxicology and Environmental Monitoring group
This group is collaboration between the School of Biological Sciences, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences. Focusing on pure and applied aspects of biological and environmental sciences associated with how humans impact their environment.

Institute of Marine Sciences
Researchers at the Institute of Marine Sciences are at the forefront of international projects researching diverse marine topics from the molecular to the ecosystem/community level.

Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology
This research group covers topics including: diversity and function of microbes associated with the GI tract of detrivorous fish, freshwater phage-host dynamics and ecology, and micro organisms associated with the Mary Rose.

Molecular Biophysics group
We focus on the structure of proteins and understanding the molecular basis of their interactions with nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), as well as protein-protein interactions and protein-ligand interactions.


How to apply 

To apply for a postgraduate research degree with us, you'll need a good first degree from an internationally-recognised university or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. We'll also consider outstanding applicants with exceptional equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications.

We're currently rebuilding our website, so to explore the 3 different routes you can take into a postgrad research degree at Portsmouth, visit our new 'How to Apply' pages.

With my study system just meters from the IMS compound, there is much greater scope for the work I am able to conduct to study mudflats, as the proximity to the sea substantially simplifies the logistics of conducting field work.

Shannon White, Biological Sciences

Self-funded PhD opportunities

Key Facts


MPhil: 2 years full-time, 4 years part-time
PhD: 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time
By Publication: 1 year part-time
Start date: October/February


A good honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject or a master's degree in an appropriate subject. Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. All applicants subject to interview. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

MPhil/PhD Fees*

MPhil full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the Government Postgraduate Loan

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the Government Doctoral Loan


Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,260 p/a*
Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,130 p/a*
International full-time students: £15,100 p/a*
International part-time students: £7,550 p/a*

*All fees are subject to annual increase

By Publication Fees*


Members of staff: £1,550 p/a*
External candidates: £4,260 p/a*

*All fees are subject to annual increase.

View tuition fee terms and conditions


School of Earth and Environmental Science
School of Pharmacology and Biomedical Sciences

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Light bulb Research Areas

Molecular Biophysics

Research areas include:

  • Nucleic acid structure and gene regulation
  • Enzyme structure and function
  • Protein structure and biomedical science
  • Biophysical methods

Biodiversity and Evolution

Research areas include:

  • Evolutionary ecology of plant reproduction
  • Biodiversity and genome science
  • Invasive species and biogeograph

Epigenetics and Developmental Biology

Research areas include:

  • Analysing gene function in development
  • Formation of the early axon scaffol
  • Interaction between vascularisation and axon outgrowth in the developing brain and Epigenetics
  • The role of histone variants

Ecotoxicology and Environmental Monitoring

Research areas include:

  • Understanding the changes in environmental processes
  • Understanding of how humans impact their environment
  • Research into invasive non-native species

Marine Resource Management

Research areas include:

  • Exploitation of the marine environment
  • Marine resource management
  • Fundamental research on marine systems

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Monitor Facilities & Features

Flexible Learning

You will benefit from access to many of our facilities and services. Our student website will be your one-stop shop for all news, information and links to other services, and 24/7 online access to the University Library’s vast electronic book, journal and database collections will help you find the right resources for your research.


You will have access to Biophysical Laboratories including: 600 MHz NMR facility, X-ray diffractometer & confocal-laser scanning, scanning and transmission electron microscopes.

We also have marine labs with: Aquarium rooms with temperature controlled flow through sea water system; Quarantine facilities for non-native species; Experimentally controlled temperature rooms; Molecular, general and sediment laboratories and a Marine Resource Centre and support facility.

Graduate School

From the moment you join us, you will be supported by the University's Graduate School, alongside your assigned supervisory team. You will be invited to a two-day induction, helping you to get the most from our facilities and be part of our thriving research community. You can also extend your skills as a researcher through the Graduate School Development Programme, which offers training, workshops and events.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Mortarboard Careers & Opportunities

Career Planning

One of the benefits of studying at Portsmouth is the comprehensive support we provide in career planning. Our careers and recruitment service - Purple Door - can assist you in career research and finding employment opportunities. 

The Graduate School Development Programme offers a series of dedicated workshops on career planning, specifically for research degree students. You will also have access to consultations with careers advisers or online support. This service is available for five years after graduation.


Doctoral graduates are highly-skilled researchers that make an impact in a range of sectors. They benefit from high employment rates and, on average, earn more than holders of undergraduate and Masters degrees. A doctorate demonstrates to employers that you are intelligent, capable and motivated, and that you have advanced technical and research skills.

In addition to supervision from experts in the field, you will be supported to become an internationally employable doctoral graduate. You will also develop skills that are desirable to employers including critical thinking, problem-solving, project management, communication, leadership and creativity.

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