Triangle

Research overview

Your research degree is bespoke at the University of Nottingham, and allows you to choose your own area of interest to research, under the title of your choosing.

Our Genetics and Genomics grouping is made up of the following available PhD and MRes courses:

  • Genetics
  • Population Genetics
  • Medical Genetics
  • Bioinformatics
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Comparative Genomics
  • Human Molecular Genetics
  • Molecular Evolution
  • Evolutionary Genetics 

Our supervisors in the school are at the forefront of research in their fields.  Utilising industry standard facilities, along with cutting edge equipment, and the guidance of our supervisors, you will advance the area of life sciences that interests you.

Your degree and research area is bespoke to you, however, our supervisors can provide projects in many areas of current interest in genetics and genomics, ranging from fundamental questions in cell biology to variation and disease in humans.  Some of the fields our supervisors are already researching include:

  • Congenital heart disease - leading to a greater understanding of the mutations that cause it
  • Investigations into the causes and treatment of dementia
  • Laboratory manipulation of spider silks in a search for new materials for specialist applications
  • New methods of CRISPR genome editing
  • Our DNA sequencing and analysis expertise has contributed to the understanding of the COVID-19 outbreak

You can find our about our specific research in the course content section.

Post-graduate Community

Here in the School of Life Sciences we’re committed to supporting our students’ wellbeing to ensure that your experience studying with us is the best it can be. Whether you’re studying silk-weaving spiders or looking for new ways to fight infection, we want all of our students to feel part of our vibrant and diverse research community.

There are loads of opportunities to meet your fellow researchers and get involved with student activities and projects during your time at the University of Nottingham including:

Course content

PhD or MRes?

PhD programmes allow you to research a topic that interests them over the span of 3-4 years.  You will be required to submit a thesis on your work at the end of your research period and take part in a viva voce examination.  This is a fantastic opportunity to research an area that is unique to your interests, and help that field grow.

Masters by Research (MRes) programmes allow you to undertake a substantial amount of independent research while gaining 20 credits of transferable skills training over the span of 12 months. The programmes are flexible in nature and allow you to take some additional accredited taught credits, in consultation with your supervisor.

Defining my research area

If you have a particular research area you are interested in, you should start by emailing a relevant supervisor below and talking through your interests with them.  You can see further details on our MRes and PhD titles below.

After you have done your research you can contact a relevant supervisor.

Genetics

The School of Life Sciences has many research groups doing pioneering work in genetics, ranging across a broad diversity of relevant topics.

Research within the school on ecological and evolutionary aspects of genetics includes:

  • research on population genetics and genome evolution
  • understanding the genetic basis of left-right body asymmetry
  • analysis of diversity and endosymbiont infection in spiders
  • genetics of colour polymorphism in ladybirds
  • phylogenetic analysis of adaptive radiations in snails
  • genetic analysis of diversity and adaptation in domesticated cattle and chickens
  • phylogenetic approaches to understand the origin of eukaryotes
  • computational molecular evolution and horizontal gene transfer
  • comparative genomics of whales
  • genomic analysis of diversity and adaptation in domesticated livestock including cattle and chickens

Population Genetics

Population genetics studies the genetic variation that exists in wild populations, and the forces, such as selection, mutation and genetic drift, that shape this variation. Particular interests in the School involve:

  • the molecular genetic variation of humans and their viruses
  • variation in wild populations of molluscs, foraminiferans and Drosophila. 
  • studies on molecular evolution and phylogenetics using computer analysis of DNA and protein sequences
  • the genetic changes that are associated with speciation
  • evolution of transposable elements
  • the population genetics of genome structure 

Medical Genetics

Some of the research in medical genetics in the school includes:

  • analysis of genetic factors in congenital heart disease
  • genetic predisposition to Alzheimer's disease
  • genomic basis of centromere function
  • genetic and epigenetic factors relevant to learning and cognition
  • analysis of human copy number variation and its relevance to disease states 
  • development of therapies for the triplet repeat disorder myotonic dystrophy

Evolutionary Genetics

Research interests within the school include:

  • The evolutionary and behavioural ecology of insects and mammals and other species

  • Evolution and importance of sex in fungi

  • The interface between evolution and development

  • Evolution of colour polymorphism and left right asymmetry in snails

  • Evolutionary genetics of spider silk

  • Evolution of ladybird colour polymorphism genes

  • Evolutionary genetics of stickleback-parasite interactions

  • Evolution of sex in wild populations of fungi

Comparative Genomics

With whole genome sequences being available for numerous organisms across all kingdoms of life, numerous questions concerning genome evolution to gene function, phylogenetic relationships to genetic and metabolic networks, genotype to phenotype of complex traits, can be addressed through comparative genomics. 

The School of Life Sciences is at the forefront of this research and you will be working alongside your supervisors to answer the questions surrounding genomics.

Bioinformatics

Researchers within the School of Life Sciences use bioinformatic analysis of related genomes to lead them to testable hypotheses. You will be helping these experts in their work an helping develop this rapidly growing scientific area. Research available covers all of these areas and will use our expertise and resources on genome sequences to yeasts and fungi.

Molecular Evolution

Some of the research areas we are interested in are:

  • the evolutionary relationships in the molluscs (in particular, the land snails) and the link between molluscan phylogenies and biogeography
  • the molecular taxonomy of spiders and the link between rates of molecular and morphological diversification
  • studies on the evolution of spider silk gene families and the relationship between silk diversification and speciation
  • studies on the phylogeny of the foraminifera and the distribution of different genetic types across the oceans

Human Molecular Genetics

Within the human molecular genetics area, there is an emphasis on the role of repetitive DNA sequences in health and disease, and in chromosome stability. Some of our research areas include: 

  • studies to understand the molecular basis of myotonic dystrophy, the identification of genes involved in human developmental heart disorders
  • cardiac stem cells
  • the role of apoptosis in brain tumour development and therapy
  • artificial chromosomes and chromosome segregation
  • human genetic diversity
  • copy number analysis
  • molecular genetics of muscle disease
  • mouse models of muscle disorders
  • molecular genetic approaches to anthropology and human population genetics 

Molecular Genetics

Molecular genetics is the study of genes at the molecular level. It focuses on the processes that underlie the expression of the genetic information from the DNA into the functional proteins that execute the genetic programme.

Within the School of Life Sciences, research in molecular genetics is concentrated in the human genetics, fungal biology, and developmental genetics and gene control groups. In the human genetics group, research in this area includes:

  • studies of the molecular basis of myotonic dystrophy and the identification of genes involved in cardiac development
  • the molecular genetics of muscle disease
  • mouse models of muscle disorders and molecular genetic approaches to anthropology and human population genetics 

In the fungal biology group, there are studies on:

  • The molecular events that determine stress responses during polarised growth
  • Protein folding and secretion in yeasts and filamentous fungi
  • The molecular and cellular effects of stress on yeast cells
  • The genetic mechanisms that control sex in fungi.

The developmental genetics and gene control group focuses on the mechanisms of eukaryotic gene expression and the genetics of vertebrate embryonic development. Developmental studies are focused largely upon the mechanisms that control stem cell fate. Projects on the control of gene expression address the machinery used by cells to achieve appropriate levels of functional transcripts. These studies include control of transcription and the mechanisms of RNA maturation.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

QualificationPhDMRes
Degree

British Honours degree at least 2:1 or equivalent.

Applicants currently studying Masters in the UK will be accepted with a minimum average of 60% (Merit) in taught elements, if they have a 2:1 or equivalent at undergraduate level.

British Honours degree of at least 2:2 or equivalent.

Where an applicant has below a 2.2 but detailed significant work experience, the School will take the application for consideration.

Additional information

Research Proposal

A research proposal is required.  This should be worked on with your proposed supervisor.

References

You should have 2 references with at least one of them being an academic reference.

References from the proposed supervisor will be accepted if the applicant has only studied at Nottingham previously (for example as a UG student) 

Research Proposal

A research proposal is required.  This should be worked on with your proposed supervisor.

References

You should have 2 references with at least one of them being an academic reference.

References from the proposed supervisor will be accepted if the applicant has only studied at Nottingham previously (for example as a UG student) 

QualificationPhDMRes
Degree

Undergraduate degree of at least 2:1 or equivalent.

Applicants currently studying Masters in the UK will be accepted with a minimum average of 60% (Merit) in taught elements, if they have a 2:1 or equivalent at undergraduate level.

Undergraduate degree of at least 2:2 or equivalent.

Where an applicant has below a 2.2 but detailed significant work experience, the School will take the application for consideration.

International and EU equivalents

We accept a wide range of qualifications from all over the world.

For information on entry requirements from your country, see our country pages.

We accept a wide range of qualifications from all over the world.

For information on entry requirements from your country, see our country pages.

Additional information

Research Proposal

A research proposal is required.  This should be worked on with your proposed supervisor.

References

You should have 2 references with at least one of them being an academic reference.

References from the proposed supervisor will be accepted if the applicant has only studied at Nottingham previously (for example as a UG student) 

Research Proposal

A research proposal is required.  This should be worked on with your proposed supervisor.

References

You should have 2 references with at least one of them being an academic reference.

References from the proposed supervisor will be accepted if the applicant has only studied at Nottingham previously (for example as a UG student) 

IELTSIELTS 6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element) as a minimum Except all Virology programs, which requires IELTS 7.0 (no less than 6.5 in any element) as a minimumIELTS 6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element) as a minimum Except all Virology programs, which requires IELTS 7.0 (no less than 6.5 in any element) as a minimum
English language requirements

As well as IELTS (listed above), we also accept other English language qualifications.

This includes TOEFL iBT, Pearson PTE, GCSE, IB and O level English.

As well as IELTS (listed above), we also accept other English language qualifications.

This includes TOEFL iBT, Pearson PTE, GCSE, IB and O level English.

Meeting our English language requirements

If you need support to meet the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional English course. Presessional courses teach you academic skills in addition to English language. Our Centre for English Language Education is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

If you successfully complete your presessional course to the required level, you can then progress to your degree course. This means that you won't need to retake IELTS or equivalent.

For on-campus presessional English courses, you must take IELTS for UKVI to meet visa regulations. For online presessional courses, see our CELE webpages for guidance.

We recognise that applicants have a variety of experiences and follow different pathways to postgraduate study.

We treat all applicants with alternative qualifications on an individual basis. We may also consider relevant work experience.

If you are unsure whether your qualifications or work experience are relevant, contact us.

Applying

Please contact an appropriate supervisor from the contactable list with an idea of what you would like your research to focus on.  You can then follow the steps on the following page, working with your proposed supervisor to write your research proposal.

Start dates:

  • 1 October 2021
  • 1 December 2021
  • 1 February 2022
  • 1 April 2022
  • 1 July 2022
How to apply

Fees

QualificationPhDMRes
Home / UK£4,625 per year£9,250
International£38,000 per year£26,500

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will pay international tuition fees in most cases. If you are resident in the UK and have 'settled' or 'pre-settled' status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will be entitled to 'home' fee status.

Irish students will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for 'home' fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our information for applicants from the EU.

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

All students should factor in cost of living, as well as basic materials like log books, lab coat, PPE and stationary. Costs for consumables will vary depending on research.

Funding

There are many ways to fund your research degree, from scholarships to government loans.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding

Support

Student support

You will have access to a range of support services, including:

  • academic and disability support
  • childcare services
  • counselling service
  • faith support
  • financial support
  • mental health and wellbeing support
  • visa and immigration advice
  • welfare support

Students' Union

Our Students' Union represents all students. You can join the Postgraduate Students’ Network or contact the dedicated Postgraduate Officer.

There are also a range of support networks, including groups for:

  • international students
  • black and minority ethnic students
  • students who identify as women
  • students with disabilities
  • LGBT+ students

SU Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice on issues such as accommodation, financial and academic difficulties.

Where you will learn

Life sciences research facilities

Benefit from access to cutting edge technologies and lab spaces including:

  • Advanced microscopy and imaging suites, and microscopes including STEM, SRM SIM and confocal imaging
  • High-throughput sequencing facilities and Nanocentre technology
  • Human physiology facilities at the David Greenfield Human Physiology unit
  • Research only MRI systems at the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre
  • Deep sequencing facilities and modern molecular genetics laboratories
  • Culture facilities as well as facilities for embryo dissection, cloning and in-situ hybridisation

Careers

Whether you are considering a career in academia, industry or haven't yet decided, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Expert staff will work with you to explore PhD career options and apply for vacancies, develop your interview skills and meet employers. You can book a one-to-one appointment, take an online course or attend a workshop.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

94.9% of postgraduates from the School of Life Sciences secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £21,400 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £40,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates who were available for employment, 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Related courses

Research Excellence Framework

We are ranked 8th in the UK for research power (2014). The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system used by UK higher education funding bodies to assess research quality in universities.

  • Life sciences ranked 9th in the UK for research power
  • More than 97% of research at Nottingham is recognised internationally
  • More than 80% of our research is ranked in the highest categories as world-leading or internationally excellent
  • 16 of our 29 subject areas feature in the UK top 10 by research power

This content was last updated on 19 October 2021. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.