Postgraduate research 

Microbiology PhD/iPhD/MSc (Research)

Start dates for incoming postgraduate research students

1 October 2020 was the preferred date to start your PhD [or the date on your offer letter].

We will run a full on-line induction and training programme that may be taken remotely for the first month. Most of our doctoral researcher training programme will also be available online and we will offer many remote opportunities to help you become part of the Graduate School and wider University community.  

Research that involves laboratory work may start following the completion of induction (all labs are currently up and running).

Some types of research (such as non-laboratory work) and supervision can be carried out entirely remotely and this may be the most appropriate way for you to work at the moment.  Contact your supervisor, if you believe this applies to your research to discuss requirements for home/remote working. You may also require the agreement of the subject, school or institute convener if you wish to carry out your PhD remotely for a fixed period. You may not continue remotely unless an adequate plan is agreed to ensure sufficient work can be undertaken prior to starting the experimental work. It is important that starting remotely does not affect the overall PhD timescale.

Delayed start dates

We understand there may be good reasons to delay:

  • If it is necessary to travel to Glasgow to begin your research, but there are restrictions preventing travel at this time, then a delay to 5 January 2021 is encouraged [when we will run full on-line induction and training programme]. You may also delay to another start time with the agreement of your supervisor and Graduate School.
  • For subjects where laboratory work is required to commence immediately following on-line induction and training and you are unable to come to Glasgow, you should consider delaying your start-date. Contact your supervisor or the Graduate School in this instance.
  • If your research involves objects, artefacts, archives or fieldwork, you should discuss this with your supervisor. Some kinds of work may be able to be started remotely; in other cases, it may be advisable to delay the start-date.
  • External government sponsors may prefer a delay and the University is happy to support this.

From our point of view, there is no disadvantage in deferring your PhD to a later agreed start date. Scholarship holders should check that this can still be provided with a delayed start.

Office and study space

At present, current staff and research students are not using office spaces on campus. We do not have a confirmed date for the return to office use, but all work that can be undertaken off-campus (ie is not lab-based) should be done at home or remotely at present.

Some study spaces are becoming available on campus with a booking system in place, such as the postgraduate study space in the University Library.

International/EU students remotely starting a funded PhD

You should check with your funder that you can be paid a stipend if you are not in the UK. If you are in receipt of a scholarship, you should contact the Graduate School for advice on opening a bank account to allow stipend payments.


Microbiology

Our interests lie in the interaction between bacterial pathogens and their hosts at the mucosal interface. We study key virulence determinants of bacterial pathogens and the host factors that influence outcome of disease, particularly within the immune system. Using both animal models and human systems, we aim to develop better drugs and vaccines for the treatment and prevention of infection.

Research projects

Self-funded PhD opportunities

Project title: Molecular biology of the PICIs, a novel and widespread family of mobile genetic elements involved in bacterial virulence

Supervisor: Professor José R Penadés

  • Project outline:Bacteria are successful as commensal organisms or pathogens in part because they adapt rapidly to selective pressures imparted by the human host. Mobile genetic elements (MGEs) play a central role in this adaptation process and are a means to transfer genetic information (DNA) among and within bacterial species. Importantly, MGEs encode putative virulence factors and molecules that confer resistance to antibiotics. Inasmuch as bacterial infections are a significant problem worldwide and continue to emerge in epidemic waves, there has been significant effort to understand the agents that effect DNA movement. In recent years, we have extensively characterised a family of pathogenicity islands in Staphylococcus aureus, SaPIs, which contribute substantively to horizontal gene transfer, host adaptation and virulence. Here we hypothesise that similar elements occur widely in bacteria, defining a unique class of mobile genetic elements, the phage-inducible chromosomal islands (PICIs). Their uniqueness is defined by a constellation of features: unique and specific attachment sites, SOS-insensitive repressors, unique replication origin organization, and specific small terminase homologs that direct specific packaging of PICI DNA into phage-like infectious particles, resulting in very high transfer frequencies. We suggest that the PICIs represent two or more distinct lineages, have spread widely throughout the bacterial world, and have diverged much more slowly than their host organisms. Overall, these findings represent the discovery of a new class of MGE, which have a broad impact on lateral gene transfer and virulence in the bacterial world.

  • Summary aim:The overall goal of this project is to confirm the existence of this novel family of mobile genetic elements, the PICIs, deciphering its role in virulence. We aim to understand its molecular biology, to learn how to combat them, in order to minimize the appearance of novel virulent clones. In addition, we will gain insight into the characterisation of the SaPIs, the prototypical member of the PICI family. We will analyse how they control expression of bacterial genes and how they interfere with their helper phages.

  • Techniques to be used: Gene mutagenesis, Southern blot, western blot, northern blot, RNA and DNA sequencing, protein expression and purification, animal models.

  • References:1. Tormo-Más MÁ, Mir I, Shrestha A, Tallent SM, Campoy S, Lasa Í, Barbé J, Novick RP, Christie GE, Penadés JR. 2010. Moonlighting bacteriophage proteins derepress staphylococcal pathogenicity islands. Nature 465:779–782.
    2. Novick RP, Christie GE, Penadés JR. 2010. The phage-related chromosomal islands of Gram-positive bacteria. Nature Reviews Microbiology 8:541–551.
    3. Tormo-Más MÁ, Donderis J, García-Caballer M, Alt A, Mir-Sanchis I, Marina A, Penadés JR. 2013. Phage dUTPases control transfer of virulence genes by a proto-oncogenic G protein-like mechanism. Molecular Cell 49:947–958.

  • Contact: José R Penadés (JoseR.Penades@glasgow.ac.uk), Professor of Microbiology, Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow

Project Title: Host-Pathogne Interactions in Pneumococcal Infection

Supervisor: Professor Tom J Evans 

  • Project outline:Infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae (Pneumococcus) remains a significant medical problem. Invasive disease includes pneumonia, sepsis and CNS infections. Mortality remains high, especially in the developing world. We study the intercations between this pathogen and the host, in order to understand better the innate and acquired immune mechanisms that underlie protection against infection. This project will study the role that the cytokine IL-17 plays in host defence against infection. This cytokine co-ordinates a neutrophil response to the infection that can be protective or harmful dependent on the bacterial strain. We will investigate the mechanisms of this effect and analyse the adaptations that the pneumococcus makes to allow it to resist innate and acquired immune clearance. Results from these studies will help in the identification of bacterial targets that could be exploited for novel therapeutic interventions and/or as the basis of a vaccine.

  • Summary aim:To determine the key innate and acquired immune responses that allow IL-17 to exert its biological effects in pneumococcal infection

  • Techniques to be used: Multi-colour Flow cytometry, qPCR, animal models of infection, ELISA, Intracellular cytokine detection

  • References:1. Future Microbiol. 2012 Jan;7(1):33-46. doi: 10.2217/fmb.11.146. What is different about serotype 1 pneumococci? Ritchie ND, Mitchell TJ, Evans TJ.

  • Contact: Professor Tom Evans (tom.evans@glasgow.ac.uk), Level 4, Glasgow Biomedical Research Centre, 120 University Place, Glasgow G12 8TA, UK. Phone: +44 (0)141 330 8418, Fax: +44 (0)141 330 4297

Overview

Growing resistance to antibiotics poses a grave threat to human health and developing novel strategies to combat bacterial infections is one of this century’s most important scientific challenges. Microbiology at the Institute of Infection, Immunology and Inflammation is focused on a molecular understanding bacterial pathogenesis and utilising this to develop novel therapeutics for the treatment of bacterial infections.

Individual research projects may cover a range of human pathogens that cause community and hospital acquired infections in addition to economically important animal pathogens. The bacterial species studied include S. aureusE. coliS. pneumoniae, P. aeruginosaC. difficileC. jejuniS. enteric and P. multocida.

Basic science, preclinical and clinical areas are available for study, with individual research projects tailored around the expertise of principal investigators within the institute. A range of technical approaches are covered including molecular biology, genetics, genomics, proteomics, immunology, structural biology, biophysics and in vitro and in vivo models of disease. Specific areas of interest include: 

  • molecular basis of virulence in Staphylococcus aureus and C. difficile
  • bacterial manipulation of apoptosis
  • bacteriophage and pathogenicity island genetics
  • development of therapeutic anti-virulence strategies
  • pneumonia and cystic fibrosis 
  • interactions of bacteria with the host immune system
  • genomic approaches to understanding pathogen evolution
  • novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment of C. difficile infection
  • mechanisms of Campylobacter jejuni pathogenesis
  • development of therapeutic species specific antibiotics

Study options

PhD

  • Duration: 3/4 years full-time; 5 years part-time

Individual research projects are tailored around the expertise of principal investigators.

MSc (Research)

  • Duration: 1 year full-time; 2 years part-time

Integrated PhD programmes (5 years)

Our integrated PhD allows you to combine Masters level teaching with your chosen research direction in a 1+3+1 format. 

International students with MSc and PhD scholarships/funding do not have to apply for 2 Visas or exit and re-enter the country between programmes. International and UK/EU students may apply.

Year 1

Taught masters level modules are taken alongside students on our masters programmes. Our research-led teaching supports you to fine tune your research ideas and discuss these with potential PhD supervisors. You will gain a valuable introduction to academic topics, research methods, laboratory skills and the critical evaluation of research data. Your grades must meet our requirements in order to gain entry on to a PhD research programme. If not, you will receive the Masters degree only.

Years 2, 3 and 4

PhD programme with research/lab work, completing an examinable piece of independent research in year 4.

Year 5

Thesis write up.

All applicants must have full funding before starting their iPhD programme.

Entry requirements

A 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent.

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English language requirements

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)

  • overall score 6.5
  • no sub-test less than 6.0
  • or equivalent scores in another recognised qualification

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Fees and funding

Fees

2021/22

  • UK fee to be confirmed by ukri.org (2020/21 fee was £4,407)
  • International & EU: £23,000

Prices are based on the annual fee for full-time study. Fees for part-time study are half the full-time fee.

Additional fees for all students:

  • Re-submission by a research student £540
  • Submission for a higher degree by published work £1,355
  • Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed £350
  • Submission by staff in receipt of staff scholarship £790

Depending on the nature of the research project, some students will be expected to pay a bench fee (also known as research support costs) to cover additional costs. The exact amount will be provided in the offer letter.

Alumni discount

We offer a 10% discount to our alumni on all Postgraduate Research and full Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes. This includes University of Glasgow graduates and those who have completed Junior Year Abroad, Exchange programme or International Summer School with us. The discount is applied at registration for students who are not in receipt of another discount or scholarship funded by the University. No additional application is required.

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2020/21 fees

  • £4,407 UK/EU
  • £21,920 outside EU

Prices are based on the annual fee for full-time study. Fees for part-time study are half the full-time fee.

Additional fees for all students:

  • Re-submission by a research student £525
  • Submission for a higher degree by published work £1,315
  • Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed £340
  • Submission by staff in receipt of staff scholarship £765

Depending on the nature of the research project, some students will be expected to pay a bench fee (also known as research support costs) to cover additional costs. The exact amount will be provided in the offer letter.

Alumni discount

We offer a 20% discount to our alumni commencing study in Academic session 2020/21, on all Postgraduate Research and full Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes. This includes University of Glasgow graduates and those who have completed a Study Abroad programme or the Erasmus Programme at the University of Glasgow. This discount can be awarded alongside other University scholarships. 

Funding for EU students

The Scottish Government has confirmed that fees for EU students commencing their studies 2020/21 will be at the same level as those for UK student.

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Funding

The iPhD  is not supported by University of Glasgow Scholarship/Funding

Support

The College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences Graduate School provides a vibrant, supportive and stimulating environment for all our postgraduate students. We aim to provide excellent support for our postgraduates through dedicated postgraduate convenors, highly trained supervisors and pastoral support for each student.
 
Our overarching aim is to provide a research training environment that includes:

  • provision of excellent facilities and cutting edge techniques
  • training in essential research and generic skills
  • excellence in supervision and mentoring
  • interactive discussion groups and seminars
  • an atmosphere that fosters critical cultural policy and research analysis
  • synergy between research groups and areas
  • extensive multidisciplinary and collaborative research
  • extensive external collaborations both within and beyond the UK 
  • a robust generic skills programme including opportunities in social and commercial training

Research environment

If you study with us, you will join a community of 26 postgraduate taught and 150 postgraduate research students. Our institute brings together world-leading basic, applied, clinical and translational researchers to study infection with a focus on the viral, parasitic and bacterial pathogens of both humans and animals, and immunology and inflammation with a focus on chronic inflammatory diseases.

Despite the continual development of new therapies, antibiotics and vaccines, chronic inflammatory and infectious diseases still pose persistent health threats, we aim to:

  • understand the basic science of the immune systems and how the immune system can inturn affect disease outcome understand the biology of parasites, viruse and bacteria and the interactions with their hosts, that in turn leads to high levels of infectious diseases worldwide
  • develop therapies (drugs and vaccines) targeted on these processes
  • explore new treatments and strategies in clinical and translational medicine

Research centres:

How to apply

Identify potential supervisors

All Postgraduate Research Students are allocated a supervisor who will act as the main source of academic support and research mentoring. You may want to identify a potential supervisor and contact them to discuss your research proposal before you apply. Please note, even if you have spoken to an academic staff member about your proposal you still need to submit an online application form.

You can find relevant academic staff members with our staff research interests search.


Gather your documents

Before applying please make sure you gather the following supporting documentation:

  1. Final or current degree transcripts including grades (and an official translation, if needed) – scanned copy in colour of the original document.
  2. Degree certificates (and an official translation, if needed): scanned copy in colour of the original document.
  3. Two references on headed paper and signed by the referee. One must be academic, the other can be academic or professional. References may be uploaded as part of the application form or you may enter your referees contact details on the application form. We will then email your referee and notify you when we receive the reference.  We can also accept confidential references direct to rio-researchadmissions@glasgow.ac.uk, from the referee’s university or business email account.
  4. Research proposal, CV, samples of written work as per requirements for each subject area.

Apply now

I've applied. What next?

If you have any other trouble accessing Applicant Self-Service, please see Application Troubleshooting/FAQs. 


Contact us

Before you apply

PhD/MSc/MD: email mvls-gradschool@glasgow.ac.uk

iPhD: email mvls-iphd@glasgow.ac.uk

After you have submitted your application

PhD/MSc/MD/iPhD: contact our Admissions team

Any references may be submitted by email to: rio-researchadmissions@glasgow.ac.uk