‌The CVR MRC PhD Programme

Image of PhD student Veronica Rezelj working in a lab

Applications for 2022/23 are now CLOSED. 

Viral diseases kill many millions of people each year and are a significant global challenge to human health and prosperity.  We have created a specialised MRC programme to train the next generation of scientists and leaders in virology research. There has never been a better time to train as a virologist and the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR) is the place to do it. The CVR is a world-leading virology research institution, that is the largest dedicated virology centre in the UK and is amongst the largest in Europe. The CVR spans a complex of buildings that seamlessly blends purpose-built virus containment facilities with state of the art imaging and sequencing facilities that are tied together by a community of investigators with a wealth of expertise, knowledge and experience.

Nurturing the next generation of leaders in virology is a key mission of the CVR. We have tailored a competitive PhD programme that is delivered by leaders in their field. Our interests range from classical human pathogens to emerging viruses and arboviruses, with research areas covering antiviral responses, virus-host interactions, molecular virology, structural virology, clinical virology, vector-biology and virus discovery. We investigate a wide range of important human and animal pathogens, from influenza and SARS-CoV-2 to rabies and arboviruses such as bluetongue, dengue and Rift Valley fever. 

"The discoveries and therapies of the future are only possible if we nurture our promising talent in the present" - Massimo Palmarini - CVR Director

The CVR MRC PhD programme - Much more than a PhD

The CVR MRC PhD programme - Much more than a PhD

Image of 4 PhD students looking over documents and in conversation.

Specialised Training - Our four year PhD programme begins with a two week taught course which ensures that all students have a fundamental understanding of modern virology as well as an overview of the practical and bioinformatic approaches that can be applied to the study of viruses. The course consists of seminars and practical classes delivered by CVR Group Leaders, and allows our new PhD students to get to know the groups and people in the CVR before beginning their research work.

Your PhD - Your Choice - Following the training course, all students undertake two rotation projects in the laboratories of their choice.  Each student then selects a lab in which to complete a thesis project.  Look through our research groups to find out about the labs you could work in and the kind of research you could be doing.

A Global View - It is expected that all programme students will attend a relevant international conference at the earliest opportunity (within 18 months of commencing their PhD).

Global Impact - As a member of the CVR community our students are encouraged to make a difference.  Virology expertise can be urgently required during outbreaks worldwide.  Several CVR PhD students volunteered their services during the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone and were presented with the Ebola Medal for Service in West Africa in recognition. Similarly, multiple students have volunteered to be part of the CVR’s COVID-19 response. We always encourage our students to use their expertise for the benefit of humanity and the CVR is proud of the contributions made by our current and former students in response to viral outbreaks.

Public Engagement – 

A critical responsibility of today’s scientist is to engage the wider community with their research. CVR PhD students have a wealth of opportunities to hone their engagement skills. The Centre’s engagement programme includes blogging and podcasting, schools workshops, activities at community days and the Glasgow Science Festival. We are also embarking on a new programme of patient and public involvement work, including patient forums and science/art collaborations. See our Public Engagement pages to find out more about the sort of work you can get involved with.

Beyond the CVR - Virology is 'greater than Glasgow'. As part of a community of collaborative virologists, opportunities exist for collaborative PhD projects with our partner institutions.

Transferable Skills Training - As a member of the University of Glasgow postgraduate community, all CVR students have access to a wide range of training opportunities and a professional support network to ensure students get the most out of their PhD.

Your Environment - Glasgow is a vibrant city on the West coast of Scotland, with excellent connections to other parts of the UK and Europe. It has an exciting student and cultural life. The CVR itself is based in the beautiful Garscube campus, easily accessible from the city centre but with views across parkland out to the Campsie Fells. Sports facilities in and outside the University offer a huge variety of activities, with the nearby countryside offering outdoor pursuits such as mountaineering and skiing. The city regularly hosts major events that showcase the region across the world. The University of Glasgow is part of the Russell Group of elite UK institutions and is regularly ranked among the best in the world. To maintain this standard of academic achievement is a key aim of our work, and the CVR PhD students play an important role in this.

Benefits - The UK MRC pays all University fees for MRC programme students and all programme students receive a tax-free stipend (currently £15,840 GBP per year for academic session 2022/23). In addition, programme students have access to a flexible travel allowance to facilitate international conference attendance at the earliest possible opportunity.



Your PhD - Your Choice

Your PhD - Your Choice

Tackling the global threat of viruses requires a multidisciplinary, multilevel, multi-partner approach. We are a committed champion of team science, working to remove barriers between basic and clinical sciences, laboratory and computational approaches and human and veterinary virology.  

Our research programmes fall into three interconnected themes along with cross-cutting themes spanning our breadth of research.

Students select a laboratory from the following list of research themes and mentors:

Chronic & community

acquired viral infections

Respiratory infections

Antonia Ho

Ed Hutchinson

Pablo Murcia

Congenital, genital &

transplant-acquired infections

Sheila Graham

Ruth Jarrett

Viral hepatitis

John McLachlan

Arvind Patel

Emma Thomson

Joe Grove

Host immunity to infection

Intrinsic immunity

Chris Boutell


Innate immunity & host species barriers

Massimo Palmarini

Sam Wilson

Pablo Murcia

Suzannah Rihn

Adam Fletcher

Alfredo Castello

Emerging & zoonotic viral


Arthropod-borne infections

Ben Brennan

Alain Kohl

Emilie Pondeville

Massimo Palmarini

Steve Sinkins

Ecology & evolution of emerging


Daniel Streicker

Margaret Hosie

Pablo Murcia

Brian Willett

Emma Thomson 

Suzannah Rihn

Cross-cutting themes

Alfredo Castello

Adam Fletcher

Ana Da Silva Filipe

Virus Structure & Composition

David Bhella

Edward Hutchinson

Viral genomics & bioinformatics

David Robertson

Viral Genomics & Bioinformatics Team




























CVR affiliates

In addition to our core team of principal investigators, we work with a number of affiliates, including:

Roman Biek

Sarah Cleaveland

Daniel Haydon

Megan MacLeod

Charles Masembe

Louise Matthews

Lubna Nasir

Richard Reeve

Laura Spagnolo

Georgia Perona-Wright 

Introductory Course in Virology

Research on bench with pipette

All PhD students at the CVR, whatever their source of funding, begin by attending an intensive two week introductory course in virology. This is designed for all first year students, from those with no prior background in virology to those who have previously taken taught courses in the subject. The course aims to provide a solid theoretical and practical grounding in a wide range of human and veterinary virology, to a level where all students can engage with the wide range of research being performed in the CVR. Importantly, although the course introduces key concepts in virology, it does not aim to teach the subject in comprehensive detail. Instead, it highlights important areas which PhD students may choose to engage with independently. Students from outside the CVR may also be able to attend on request - please contact cvr-phdprogramme@glasgow.ac.uk if you wish to enquire about this.‌

The teaching consists of seminars delivered by Group Leaders from the CVR and the wider University, as well as introductions to practical methods, viral bioinformatics and data presentation. This course is a perfect opportunity to update your theoretical and practical knowledge of virology and viral diseases, to gain more insight into the research performed in the different groups at the CVR and to get to know other PhD students in the broad research field of virology.

CVR PhD Student Films

Here's what our PhD students have to say about the programme...

Admission Requirements


There are strict eligibility criteria for the CVR MRC PhD programme.

To be eligible, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter

Students from any country in the world can also apply to CVR-based projects by applying to the University of Glasgow's Wellcome Trust PhD programme in Integrative Infection Biology.

We will consider any graduate (meeting the residency requirements above) with a minimum 2:1 BSc degree (usually in a biological discipline). Previous laboratory experience in virology and/or molecular biology is advantageous.

Unfortunately, we cannot consider citizens from outside the UK or Republic of Ireland (unless they meet the residency requirements above) for this programme.

Admissions are now closed for the 2022/23 academic year.


Application Process

Please APPLY NOW to start your application.

For the 'Support Documents' section, applicants are asked to upload the following:


Essential documents:

  1. CV (strict 1 A4 page maximum)
  2. Personal statement/Covering letter (strict 1 A4 page maximum)
  3. 2 references on headed paper (academic and/or professional) or submitted directly to us (rio-researchadmissions@glasgow.ac.uk and Cc in cvr-phdprogramme@glasgow.ac.uk)

Advisable documents:

  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.


Note that no sample of your written work other than your personal statement/covering letter is required.  

Please note that, in step 11 within the online application process, you are asked to detail supervisor/project title information. You cannot detail this information because you are applying to the programme and not for a specific project at this stage.

Add the following text: “CVR MRC PhD Programme” to all these sections. There is no requirement to upload a research proposal.   

The applications system can be imperfect.  We recommend that you also email the essential documents above (CV, personal statement/Covering letter and references directly to cvr-phdprogramme@glasgow.ac.uk).


Interview Process

Details about the interview process will be published online when admissions open in 2023. 

If you receive an offer, we will ask you to decide within a reasonable timeframe whether to join the CVR. By accepting our offer, you will be making a binding commitment to the CVR MRC PhD Programme, and we will ask you to withdraw your applications for other PhD programmes.


Any questions about the programme or eligibility requirements should be directed to cvr-phdprogramme@glasgow.ac.uk