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South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (SWBio DTP)

Find out details of PhD funding opportunities offered by the SWBio Doctoral Training Partnership.

About the Partnership

The South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (SWBio DTP) is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBRSC) and comprises the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter, alongside Rothamsted Research. This partnership also includes the following associate partners: Marine Biological Association (MBA), Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), Swansea University, UCB Pharma, University of the West of England (UWE) and SETsquared Bristol.

These institutions represent a distinctive group of bioscience research staff and students, with established international, national and regional networks, and widely recognised research excellence. As research leaders, they have a strong track record in advancing knowledge through high-quality research and teaching, in partnership with industry and the government. The programme particularly aims to provide students with outstanding interdisciplinary research training within the following themes:

Importantly, this research training is also underpinned by transformative technologies, allowing students to expand the boundaries of their research through innovative tools, technologies and approaches.

You will be recruited to a broad, interdisciplinary project, supported by a multidisciplinary supervisory team, with many cross-institutional PhD projects available that build on the expertise of each of our partners. There are also opportunities to:

  • apply your research in an industrial setting through our projects with an industrial partner (DTP CASE studentships)
  • undertake research jointly with some of our core and associate partners (standard DTP studentships with an associate partner)

Some projects will also offer working with other national/international researchers, as well as fieldwork opportunities.

Programme Structure

A structured approach to training will be adopted throughout a 4-year PhD model, to ensure you are well-equipped as a bioscience researcher for leadership positions in academia, industry and beyond.

First year

In the first year, we provide a broad awareness of the fundamental research approaches in life sciences and how they could be applied to real-life situations through taught units and rotation projects. You will complete:

  • two rotation projects - both allied with but in different disciplinary areas related to the PhD project. Where possible, this will allow refinement of your PhD project in line with your emerging research interests as the programme progresses
  • three common taught units - bespoke for the SWBio DTP. Training you in skills to enable you to be at the forefront of cutting-edge bioscience research as well as equip you with many transferable skills, giving you the agility to navigate different career paths. This includes training in Statistics, Bioinformatics, coding, experimental design, innovation and understanding the impact of your research

You will need to successfully complete the first year to be able to progress into your second year of studies. An MRes exit route is available at the end of year one should this be required.

Second to fourth years

The remaining three years will be more like a conventional PhD. You will be taking on full-time research and are likely to be based in the research group of your main supervisor.

Professional Internships for Postgraduate Students (PIPS)

You will also take part in a three-month full-time placement (or part-time equivalent) outside of an academic research environment*. Placements are intended to broaden the scope of your employability after your PhD. In particular, it will encourage you to use your doctoral training skills in a broader range of careers. Examples of placements include working within policy, science communication, charities, industry and publishing.

Read further information about our PIPS scheme.
*PIPS is optional for CASE studentships as these projects will involve an industrial placement with the CASE partner for 3-18 months.

Cohort activities

You will also have the opportunity to attend a number of SWBio DTP cohort activities held across the partnership, such as annual student conferences, workshops, research theme activities and outreach events where you will get the chance to meet and interact with other students from the partnership, giving you access to a multidisciplinary and supportive student network.
Read further information about our cohort activities.

The PhD thesis must be submitted within 4 years of starting the programme.

How to apply

Identify a project

Once the scheme is open, you will be able to identify a project or projects that you are interested in by browsing the list of available projects, then apply through our online application system.

Application guidance

  • Please apply using the online application form for the PhD in Biosciences Full-time programme.
  • Please also clearly identify your application as being for the SWBio DTP call in the finance section of the online application.
  • You can apply for more than one project, although supervisors may take into account your interest and commitment to their particular project. If you apply for multiple projects, please indicate the titles and lead supervisors of all the projects for which you wish to be considered in the 'Your research interests' section of the application form and supply a separate personal statement for each one. Each application for an individual project will be considered separately by the project supervisors.

Application deadline

Applications for 2021 entry are open now. Applications will close on 7 December 2020 at 23:59 GMT.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Statement

We want to support diverse and inclusive work environments. We therefore welcome applications from individuals regardless of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, age, gender, or disability status. We welcome applications from individuals who have previously studied at any recognised Higher Education Institute and from a range of career paths (please refer to the SWBio DTP academic criteria for eligibility), including individuals who have previously trained in the sciences and are wanting to return to scientific research.

We particularly encourage applications from BAME* and mature (this is classed as 30+ years) individuals as these backgrounds are currently underrepresented within our student cohort.

*Black, Asian and minority ethnic


If you have any questions, please contact us.