Postgraduate research 

Virology PhD/iPhD/MD/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.


Virology research is carried out in the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research. Our expertise ranges from molecular virology to in vivo pathogenesis, virus–cell interaction, viral immunology, viral ecology, clinical virology, virus epidemiology, mathematical modelling and bioinformatics.

Research projects

Self-funded PhD opportunities

Project Title: Intrinsic immunity to HIV-1 and related retroviruses

Supervisor: Dr Sam J Wilson

  • Project outline: The ‘antiviral state’ induced by interferons attenuates the replication of most, if not all, mammalian viruses. Upon sensing of pathogens, interferon signalling results in the upregulation of hundreds of different genes. These interferon stimulated genes (ISGs) are able to mediate further signalling, modulate the cellular environment, or interfere with viruses directly, in order to impede viral replication. Despite intensive investigation, the exact contribution of individual ISGs to the antiviral state is often unknown. However, in some remarkable cases individual ISGs have been described that effectively render cells resistant to certain viruses. The extraordinary ability of these factors to restrict virus replication can protect individuals, populations and entire species from specific pathogens. This project involves searching for new antiviral factors in addition to the further characterization of antiviral molecules currently under investigation in the lab. Through expressing species variants and targeted mutants of these molecules we hope to better understand the determinants of antiviral specificity/sensitivity. Cell lines expressing putative antiviral factors will be generated and their permissivity to infection and ability to support viral replication will be investigated. Our long-term goal is to harness the information gleaned from characterising host-viral interactions to identify novel therapeutic targets and develop biotechnologies, based upon intrinsic immune factors, that could reduce the disease burden in human or livestock populations.
  • Summary Aim: This project will characterise the antiviral activity of known factors and use ISG expression screening (2) to identify novel antiviral effectors.
  • Techniques to be used: Tissue culture, virus propagation, infection and replication assays. Molecular biology, flow cytometry, confocal microscopy and biochemistry
  • References: 1. Wilson SJ, Schoggins JW, Zang T, Kutluay SB, Jouvenet N, Alim MA, Bitzegeio J, Rice CM, Bieniasz PD: Inhibition of HIV-1 particle assembly by 2',3'-cyclic-ucleotide 3'-phosphodiesterase. Cell host & microbe 2012, 12(4):585-597.
    2. Schoggins JW, Wilson SJ, Panis M, Murphy MY, Jones CT, Bieniasz P, Rice CM: A diverse range of gene products are effectors of the type I interferon antiviral response. Nature 2011, 472(7344):481-485.
    3. Wilson SJ, Webb BL, Ylinen LM, Verschoor E, Heeney JL, Towers GJ: Independent evolution of an antiviral TRIMCyp in rhesus macaques. PNAS 2008, 105(9):3557-3562.
  • Contact: Sam Wilson (, Research Fellow, MRC - University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow

Project Title: Viral involvement in Hodgkin lymphoma

Supervisor: Professor Ruth Jarrett & Dr Alice Gallagher

  • Project outline: Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the frequently occurring lymphomas in humans and is most common in the young adult age group. A proportion of cases of Hodgkin lymphoma are associated with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and we believe this association is causal. EBV-associated cases are relatively more common in childhood and older adult age groups and most young adult cases are not associated with EBV; however, epidemiological evidence suggests that infectious agents are involved in the pathogenesis of young adult Hodgkin lymphoma. A longstanding interest of our group has been to look for novel viruses in non-EBV-associated Hodgkin lymphoma in young adults. We are currently exploring the use of next generation sequencing coupled with digital transcriptome subtraction to look for novel viruses and also genetic aberrations in these cases. A challenging feature of Hodgkin lymphoma is that the tumour cells make up only ~1% of the total tumour mass; therefore these cells have to be enriched by laser microdissection or cell sorting prior to sequence analysis.
  • Summary Aim: The project will investigate viral involvement in Hodgkin lymphoma using next generation sequencing to look for viral genomes and transcripts in tumour biopsies.
  • Techniques to be used: sample processing, laser microdissection and/or cell sorting, nucleic acid extraction, next generation sequencing, bioinformatic analysis.
  • Contact: Ruth Jarrett (, Professor of Molecular Pathology, Ian Botham Building, Garscube Estate, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G61 1QH

Project Title: How does HPV control epithelial structural and immune barrier function?

Supervisor: Professor Sheila V Graham

Using RNASeq we showed that certain immune regulators (e.g. IL1β, IRF1) and epithelial barrier proteins (e.g. loricrin, desomglein 1) are altered during the late phase of HPV-infection in differentiated keratinocytes (1). We hypothesise that virion release requires epithelial barrier disruption. Therefore, the project will examine virus-induced modification of tight (e.g. claudins), adherens (e.g. cadherins) and gap junctions (connexins), and the keratinocyte filamentous barrier in the upper layers of laboratory grown uninfected and HPV-infected 3D tissues, using confocal immunofluorescence microscopy. We have a biobank of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues from normal cervix, HPV-infected cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) grades 1 and 3, and cervical cancer. We will carry out immune-staining on these to describe changes in keratinocyte barrier function during HPV infection and cervical disease progression in vivo.

To work out the mechanism of control of immune regulators physiologically-relevant concentrations will be added into HPV-positive 3D tissue growth media, or factors will be ectopically overexpressed in the keratinocytes. Cell proliferation and tissue growth will be analysed. HPV life cycle completion will be assayed by quantifying viral genomes and late mRNAs using qPCR. The outcome will be an understanding of how the host cell of HPV infection (keratinocytes) can attempt to control productive HPV infection and if/how HPV can repress this.

a. Klymenko, T., Herbert, I., Stevenson, A., Gu, Q., Iliev V., Bhatia R., Cuschieri, K., Herzyk, P., Gatherer, D. and Graham, S.V. (2017) The transcriptome of differentiated keratinocytes is significantly altered in response to late events in the human papillomavirus type 16 replication cycle. J. Virol. 91:e00990-17. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01001-17.

b. Hernandez-Lopez, H and Graham SV. (2012) Alternative splicing in tumour viruses: A therapeutic target? Biochem. J. 445(2):145-56. doi: 10.1042/BJ20120413

c. Faizo A.A.A, Hernandez-Lopez H., Stevenson A., Kolu I., Leslie K., Roberts S. and Graham S.V. (2019) Splicing inhibitory drug SRPIN340 represses the human papillomavirus life cycle. In preparation.

Project Title: Innate immune responses against arboviruses

Supervisor: Dr Alain Kohl

  • Project outline: Arbovirus interactions with vectors such as mosquitoes are still poorly understood. We analyse host responses against arboviruses in vectors with an emphasis on RNA interference (RNAi) pathways. These pathways are known to have a major role in controlling arboviruses (and may influence the ability of a vector to transmit virus) yet many questions remain unanswered, in particular regarding the induction and regulation of RNAi. This project will analyse those problems by combining molecular virology and cell biology techniques.
  • Summary Aim: We aim to understand the host response in arthropod vectors of arboviruses in order to better understand the virus-host interplay and how this relates to infection efficiency. Give that vector control is key to controlling arbovirus transmission it is imperative that we understand this aspect of vector biology better.
  • Techniques to be used: Molecular virology techniques (reverse genetics etc.), cell culture techniques (including transfection), immunofluorescence, protein expression, Western and Northern blotting, deep sequencing, manipulation of mosquitoes.
  • References: Links to recent publications in Journal of Virology and PLoS Pathogens:
  • Contact: Centre for Virus Research, 8 Church Street, Glasgow G11 5 JR

Project Title: Exploring host SUMOylation events during influenza virus infection

Supervisor: Dr Ben Hale

  • Project outline: During infection there is a struggle between virus and host as both try to create an optimal cellular environment: the host must activate self-defence mechanisms to stop virus replication, and the virus must attempt to counteract these responses whilst re-programming the cell to become a 'virus factory'. How viruses interact with the host small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) proteins is currently an important area of infection biology research. SUMO acts as an important regulator of cell signalling by covalently linking to proteins and altering their structure, localization or function. As such, SUMO conjugation contributes to nearly all aspects of cell biology and can have both pro- and anti- viral functions. We are interested in trying to understand the role of SUMO modification events during influenza virus infection. We have previously shown that global cellular SUMOylation increases during influenza A virus infection of human lung epithelial cells, and have used quantitative proteomics to identify the proteins that change in SUMOylation status. We are now using influenza virus reverse genetics technologies and siRNA methods to characterise which viral and cellular factors are necessary to stimulate this response, where in the cell the response occurs, and what roles specific SUMO-modified proteins play during the virus life cycle.
  • Techniques to be used: Techniques routinely used include genetic manipulation and handling of influenza viruses, cloning and PCR mutagenesis, siRNA-mediated depletion, western blot, affinity proteomics, and immunofluorescence.
  • References: Wimmer et al., Human pathogens and the host cell SUMOylation system, J Virol, 2012, 86, 642-654.
    Everett et al., Interplay between viruses and host sumoylation pathways, Nature Reviews Microbiology, 2013, 11, 400-411.
  • Contact: Benjamin G. Hale (, Ph.D. Sir Henry Dale Fellow & Lecturer, MRC - University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, Scotland, UK


The MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR) sits within the Institute of Infection, Immunology and Inflammation. The CVR is the largest virology-focussed research centre in the UK and brings together a critical mass of researchers studying human and animal viruses and viral diseases.

The CVR provides excellent facilities and opportunities for cross-disciplinary projects and the delivery of a comprehensive programme of training in contemporary, multi-disciplinary, virology research. The Centre includes research programmes in arboviruses, Epstein Barr virus, feline calicivirus, herpes viruses, hepatitis C virus, influenza, retroviruses and papillomaviruses. Further details of our CVR research programmes.

 Cross cutting research themes and expertise include:

  • antiviral immunity
  • virus discovery
  • viral bioinformatics, mathematical modelling and genomics to guide new approaches to the understanding and management of viral infections
  • structural biology/cryo-electron microscopy and viral evolutionary dynamics
  • molecular virology to in vivo pathogenesis
  • virus-cell interactions
  • viral immunology
  • viral ecology
  • viral oncology
  • clinical and veterinary virology
  • viral diagnostics 
  • virus epidemiology

Our excellent facilities underpin a bench to bedside approach that will equip you with training complementary to a range of career options, and you can tailor your study pathway to the precise aspects of infection and immunology that suit your objectives. Through their research interests in drug development, vaccines and diagnostics, many of our project supervisors have strong links with industry.

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

MD (Doctor of Medicine)

  • Duration: 2 years full-time; 4 years part-time (for medically-qualified graduates only)

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

Our regular standard of admission is at least an Upper Second Class Honours degree (2:1), although candidates will usually also have completed or be undertaking a Masters qualification.

Research proposal

Candidates are required to provide an outline of the proposed research subject in about 1000 words. This need not be a final thesis proposal but should include:

  • a straightforward, descriptive, and informative title
  • the question that your research will address
  • an account of why this question is important and worth investigating
  • an assessment of how your own research will engage with recent study in the subject
  • a brief account of the methodology and approach you will take
  • a discussion of the primary sources that your research will draw upon, including printed books, manuscripts, archives, libraries, or museums
  • an indicative bibliography of secondary sources that you have already consulted and/or are planning to consult

Your application, including your references and research proposal, will be passed to members of staff whose expertise and research interests most closely match the area of your proposed study.

Fees and funding



  • UK fee to be confirmed by (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.


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 large community of  postgraduate taught and research students. Our institute brings together 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

We offer a wide range of cutting-edge research facilities, including core facilities in fluorescence activated cell sorting analysis, histology and state-of-the-art imaging. In addition, we offer the IVIS imaging system, high content screening microscopy, mass spectrometry, an X-ray capable FX Pro bioluminescence imaging system and a protein purification service. Also available are a wide range of molecular, immunological and biochemical analysis tools.

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: