Postgraduate research 

Microbiology PhD/iPhD/MSc (Research)

Travel advice for postgraduate research students

The latest Scottish Government guidance confirms that most students should not plan to travel to term-time accommodation at this point. Where there is a time-sensitive element to your course, a small number of students will be able to travel.

There are some exceptions to this advice, with the following groups of students allowed to be on campus:

  • those who have remained over the winter break;
  • those whose attendance is critical and whose education cannot be delivered remotely or postponed, essential placements, or for reasons of student wellbeing

Please continue to observe the latest Scottish Government guidance and local restrictions.

If you are travelling to a term-time address from within the UK, you should book a test for the date of your arrival.



Travel advice for international students

Semester began on 11 January and the majority of learning and teaching is being delivered online. The latest Scottish Government guidance confirms that most students should not plan to travel to term-time accommodation at this point. 

Unless you need to be at the University for in-person teaching, please delay your travel for now. We will update all students when the Scottish Government advise it is safe for students to travel.

From Monday 18 January, the small number of students who do travel to Scotland from abroad must:

  • have proof of a negative PCR test (or similar test with at least 99% specificity and 97% sensitivity for detecting COVID-19) taken a maximum of 72 hours before travel. See the Scottish Government’s guide: Pre-departure coronavirus testing
  • self-isolate for 10 days on arrival. Our International Student Support Team will provide assistance following arrival in Glasgow.
  • not book a Lateral Flow test at the University's testing centre.

Students who do fly into Glasgow are invited to complete the University’s Travel Plans form, which gives the option of an airport transfer.

Whether you join us in Glasgow or study from home, please know that we are with you every step of the way, and will do all that we can to ensure that your student journey at the University of Glasgow is both a successful and enjoyable one.



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.

  • PhD: 3-4 years full-time; 5 years part-time;
  • Integrated PhD: 5 years full-time;
  • MSc (Research): 1 year full-time; 2 years part-time;

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 (, 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 (, 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


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


  • 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.


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


Fees and funding



  • UK: £4,500
  • 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.


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.



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


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.

*iPhD applicants do not need to contact a supervisor, as you will start your programme by choosing a masters from our Taught degree programmes A-Z [do not apply directly to a masters].

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 [except iPhD applicants, where only one academic or professional reference is required]. 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, from the referee’s university or business email account.
  4. Research proposal, CV, samples of written work as per requirements for each subject area. iPhD applicants do not need to submit any of these as you will start your programme by choosing a masters.

Notes for iPhD applicants

  • add 'I wish to study the MSc in (chosen subject) as the masters taught component of the iPhD' in the research proposal box
  • write 'n/a' for the supervisor name

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

iPhD: email

After you have submitted your application

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

Any references may be submitted by email to: