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We welcome applications to undertake research towards MPhil and PhD degrees in Human Biology.

Research at Worcester has grown significantly in the last 10 years as the University itself has expanded. As a research student you will join a vibrant student community in our Research School and become part of our dynamic research environment.

Overview

Overview

School of Science and the Environment

The School of Science and the Environment has a strong mix of academics with a high degree of professional and personal experience, enabling you to get the most out of your programme. Our staff have expertise in:

  • Acute Myeloid Leukaemia
  • Human cell culture and analysis
  • Flow cytometry
  • Protein redox regulation
  • Cellular redox homeostasis
  • Cancer immunology and immunotherapy
  • Cancer cell signalling
  • Viral replication
  • Amino acid metabolism
  • Cell signalling (Receptor Tyrosine Kinase and cell-cell)
  • Ligand receptor interactions
  • Apoptosis
  • Genetics of plant breeding systems & hybridisation barriers
  • Molecular biology
  • Protein overexpression and purification
  • X-ray crystallography
  • Protein-protein interactions Enzyme Kinetics
  • Neuroendocrine physiology and cardiovascular physiology
  • Phospholipid composition and function
Entry requirements

What qualifications will you need?

Entry qualifications

For MPhil

  • First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree or an approved equivalent award

or

  • Research or professional experience which has resulted in appropriate evidence of achievement

For PhD

  • Postgraduate Masters Degree in a discipline which is appropriate to the proposed programme of study

or

  • First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree or equivalent award in an appropriate discipline

or

  • Research or professional experience at postgraduate level which has resulted in published work, written reports or other appropriate evidence of achievement

International applicants

International applicants will be required to demonstrate that they have the appropriate level of written and spoken English.

For MPhil/PhD this is an IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum score of 6.0 in every component.

Course content

What will you study?

PhD year by year

After receiving your application, we try to establish if we have the necessary expertise to supervise your project and we begin to form a supervisory team for you. This will normally consist of a Director of Studies (DoS), who will be your lead supervisor, and at least one other supervisor, who will offer you additional support and guidance throughout your studies. If, following a successful interview, you are offered a place as a full-time student, your programme of study will look something like this:

First year

You will have submitted a draft research outline with your application. In your first year, you will be working towards submitting a more complete research proposal. You will be aided in your research by meeting with your supervisory team to discuss your progress. You will also be supported through your first year by engaging with a series of four modules:

  • RSDP4001: Developing as a Researcher
  • RSDP4002: Approaches to Research 1
  • RSDP4003: Approaches to Research 2
  • RSDP4004: Planning Your Research Project

At the end of each year, beginning with your first year, you will reflect on and formally review your progress with your supervisory team and MPhil/PhD Course Leader. We call this annual meeting an Annual Progress Review (APR).

Second year

In your second year, you will be collecting data and working on your research project under the supervision of your supervisors through regular meetings. You may at this point have research papers ready to publish and you may wish to attend conferences to present your research to other experts in your field. You will be able to apply to our Research Student Support Scheme for some funding for this purpose. Students normally undergo Transfer from MPhil to PhD towards the end of their second year. This will be part of your Annual Progress Review for this year.

Third and fourth year

In your third and fourth year, you will be writing up your thesis and preparing for your viva voce examination. This is an oral exam with two examiners and a chair. You can also request that your supervisor be present at the exam. The exam will take place after you have submitted your final thesis. After the exam, it is not unusual for the examiners to ask that some amendments be made to your thesis before the final award is confirmed and you will have additional time to do this. It is possible to complete the course in three years, but we have found that the majority of students do take four years to complete the course. At the end of each year of your registration, you will go through an Annual Progress Review.

Part time students follow the same structure as full-time students but normally complete the PhD over a period of five to six years. Part-time students take two modules in each of their first two years, and will normally Transfer to PhD in their fourth year.

Teaching and assessment

How will you be taught?

Benefit from a professional and challenging relationship with your supervisory team, drawn from experienced academics working at the forefront of their disciplines.

Supervision areas

The School of Science and the Environment has a strong mix of academics with a high degree of professional and personal experience, enabling you to get the most out of your programme. Our staff have expertise in:

  • Acute Myeloid Leukaemia
  • Human cell culture and analysis
  • Flow cytometry
  • Protein redox regulation
  • Cellular redox homeostasis
  • Cancer immunology and immunotherapy
  • Cancer cell signalling
  • Viral replication
  • Amino acid metabolism
  • Cell signalling (Receptor Tyrosine Kinase and cell-cell)
  • Ligand receptor interactions
  • Apoptosis
  • Genetics of plant breeding systems & hybridisation barriers
  • Molecular biology
  • Protein overexpression and purification
  • X-ray crystallography
  • Protein-protein interactions Enzyme Kinetics
  • Neuroendocrine physiology and cardiovascular physiology
  • Phospholipid composition and function

Some of our current research students are exploring:

  • The role of BCAT1 in the development and treatment of AML and monitoring intracellular and extracellular markers of oxidative stress in acute coronary syndrome
  • The effects of plant polyphenols and essential fatty acid supplementation on cell membrane phospholipid composition in obese rats and in cell models of neural degeneration
  • Associations between high fat diet intake, oestrogen replacement therapies and depressive-like behavioural symptoms in rats
  • Associations between fatty acid intake and biomarkers of cardiovascular health in pre-menopausal women

Resources

Access to the University of Worcester’s virtual resources and its state-of-the-art library facilities. The Biochemistry team at Worcester have an excellent range of resources available to support your learning and your research project, including:

  • ÄKTA pure protein purification system
  • BIORAD gravity chromatography systems
  • NanoDrop 2000c spectrophotometer
  • Gene expression systems including; bacterial, yeast, insect cell, mammalian cell and lenti-viral systems
  • GuavaCyte flow cytometer
  • Biological safety cabinet containment level-2
  • PCR
  • qRT-PCR
  • GC-MS/MS
  • LC-MS
  • Gel imaging
  • Various electrophoresis systems, including; SDS-PAGE, Western blot and immunoelectrophoresis
  • ELISA
  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • MiniMACS cell separation system
  • Large-scale microbial incubators
  • Human cell culture facility.

 

Programme specification

For comprehensive details on the aims and intended learning outcomes of the course, and the means by which these are achieved through learning, teaching and assessment, please download the latest programme specification document for the MPhil or PhD.

Supervisors

Dr Alain Bueno
Expertise: dietary fats and the endocrine function of the adipose tissue and pancreas; diabetes and obesity as mild chronic inflammatory states and the role of dietary antioxidants; cell membrane phospholipid composition in cardiovascular and neuroendocrine diseases; the role of nutrition in health and disease.

Dr Amy Cherry 
Expertise: cancer cell signalling; viral Replication; protein expression and purification; crystallography; protein-protein interactions; molecular biology; gene cloning; mutagenesis; enzyme kinetics.

Dr Steven Coles 
Expertise: Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML); protein and cellular redox regulation; AML/cancer immunology and immunotherapy; the role of metabolic processes in disease pathogenesis (branched-chain amino acid metabolism); cell signalling and apoptosis.

Dr Mike Wheeler 
Expertise: cell-cell signalling in plants; plant receptor-ligand interactions; the biology and genetics of plant breeding systems; the genetics of natural hybridisation barriers in plants.

mike wheeler

Dr Mike Wheeler

Dr Mike Wheeler is Head of Biological Sciences.

Mike joined the University of Worcester in 2010 after researching in the area of plant molecular genetics. Mike developed a strong background in the biology of cell signalling in plants, with specific research into the mechanisms of self-incompatibility in poppy and the control of polarity in pollen tubes of tobacco. He is currently investigating the function of a large family of secreted proteins likely to be involved in cell-cell communication in the model plants, Arabidopsis thaliana and Physcomitrella patens.

In addition to his research into plant molecular genetics Mike is also developing means of using molecular biology to solve problems in conservation biology which is a longstanding passion of his. In this area Mike is currently developing eDNA (environmental DNA) techniques to assess the effect of invasive and non-native species on species of conservation concern. Mike is also currently involved in a scheme to improve winter feeding for farmland birds at Lakeside campus in partnership with the local RSPB group.

Mike is a member of the Sustainable Environments Research Group.

dr-steven-j-coles

Dr Steven J Coles

Steve joined the University of Worcester in 2013, following 5 years post-doctoral experience at Cardiff University, School of Medicine (Section of Haematology), working with Professors Tonks and Darley. During his time at Cardiff, Steve investigated the role of the immune checkpoint molecule, CD200, in a type of blood cancer known as acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

Since joining us, Steve has introduced several new modules to the Biological and Biomedical Sciences curriculum that align with his expertise, including: Immunology and  Biochemistry of Cancer.

Steve has also helped to establish and lead the Worcester Biomedical Research Group, where the research focuses on Cancer, Neurodegeneration and Cardiovascular Disease.

dr-amy-cherry

Dr Amy Cherry

Dr Amy Cherry joined the University of Worcester following postdoctoral positions at the National Institute of Medical Research and the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm. Her research focuses on understanding how proteins work at the molecular level and on how one can use knowledge of protein structure to tackle disease.

dr-allain-bueno

Dr Allain Bueno

Dr Bueno joined the University of Worcester in January 2012, after 4 years of Post-doctoral experience at the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition in London, working with Prof Michael Angus Crawford, one of the pioneers in fatty acid metabolism and brain composition.

Dr Bueno investigated in his PhD the effects of dietary fats on adipose tissue metabolism, and how different types of fat can influence disorders such as inflammation and diabetes. In his MPhil Dr Bueno investigated the impact of surgical removal of fat pads on metabolic adaptations in obesity induced by diet and by neurochemical malfunctioning.

Dr Bueno graduated as a Biomedical Scientist – Medical Modality – from Paulista School of Medicine, Sao Paulo Federal University in Brazil. He has extensive experience in clinical sciences, having worked and taught in a leading Tertiary Referral Hospital. His current area of research includes the biochemistry of dietary fats and their role in oxidative stress, brain metabolism and function.

Careers

Where could it take you?

All students engage with our Researcher Development Programme (RDP). The RDP aims to develop and enhance the skills, both generic and specific, that you will need to complete your research degree but also to become an effective researcher. The RDP is organised around thematic clusters, consisting of modules, and workshops, delivered face-to-face by subject specialists from across the University and the dedicated Researcher Development Team, or online through our virtual learning environment.

As part of the RDP, you will complete a Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods (PG Cert). All students must complete the PG Cert in order to progress on their MPhil/PhD Programme. The PG Cert is strongly focused on developing your programme of research, starting from establishing your development needs, and preparing you for the planning and subsequent delivery of your programme of research.

Full-time students will complete the PG Cert in 12 months and part-time students in 24 months.

Costs

How much will it cost?

Fees

The current fees can be found within the tuition fees document on our figure out finances page.

Accommodation

Finding the right accommodation is paramount to your university experience. Our halls of residence are home to friendly student communities, making them great places to live and study.

We have over 1,000 rooms across our range of student halls. With rooms to suit every budget and need, from our 'Traditional Hall' at £122 per week to 'En-suite Premium' at £207 per week (2023/24 prices).

For full details visit our accommodation page.

How to apply

How do you apply?

Additional information

As part of the application process, you will be asked to submit a research outline. We recommend preparing your research outline before beginning your online application. Some guidance on preparing your research outline is available here.

If your research involves working with vulnerable adults and/or children then you may be required to obtain an Enhanced DBS check. There will be a small charge for this. For more information please contact research@worc.ac.uk.

We are committed to making reasonable adjustment. If you require an alternative format for making your application due to a disability, please contact us to discuss your needs on 01905 542182 or research@worc.ac.uk.

How to apply

Please make your application via our online application form. If you have any questions, please contact the Research School on 01905 542182 or research@worc.ac.uk

Before you submit a full application, please contact Dr Fleur Visser (f.visser@worc.ac.uk) to discuss your research project and the availability of appropriate supervision.

February start

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October start

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