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Training for route 1 students (with an MSc)

Training for route 2 students (without an MSc)
Information for all students
Optional Training

Training for route 1 students (with an MSc) – 3 years

You will complete a training programme agreed with your academic supervisor's department.

Training for route 2 students (without an MSc) – 4 years

Students will start by completing taught modules at Warwick (60 credits equivalent), usually in Term 1. This will help students to familiarise themselves with Warwick University, staff and facilities and integrate into the PhD cohort.

All students are encouraged to achieve their training in these topics by completing the following postgraduate modules. Full details of the content, teaching and assessment methods will be provided.

A: Research techniques in life sciences (HR927-15) 15 CATS
B: Instrumentation for life sciences (BS968-15) 15 CATS
Statistics for Data Analysis (Bioinformatics) (CH923) 10 CATS
Bioscience, Politics and Social Acceptability (HR903)
E: Academic Critique (BS969) 6 CATS

Students who have more diverse training needs than are accommodated by the above courses may, after consultation with the Course Director, replace one or more of the above courses with alternatives from the list given in Table 1, ensuring that the courses provide 60 or more CATS in total. Availability of these alternative courses will be subject to the student meeting the eligibility criteria for each course and to space availability.

Research projects

Students (with supervisors) may then decide to complete up to 2 mini-projects at Warwick (2 x 30 credits). Usually this track will be to train the student in different advanced research skills and to experience different research discipline cultures. Alternatively, students may progress directly to joint Warwick-industrial partner research training and research project work. Mini projects or initial joint research projects will be assessed to determine aptitude, progress and training needs.

Course progression and Course specification

Students on Route 2 (4 years) must pass all taught modules and complete and pass all elements of the transferable skills course. 90% of the PhD assessment will be based on the thesis.

Students failing to pass at least 60 CATS of taught modules may not progress to a PhD. They will exit with Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma as appropriate.

A Postgraduate Certificate requires passes through the taught modules to accumulate at least 60 CATS.

A Postgraduate Diploma requires a pass in all taught modules and a pass mark in two mini-projects to accumulate 120 credits.

All students who pass 60 credits of taught modules will write their year 1 research up into a report. Progress will be reviewed by a monitoring panel. Students who fail to score at least 60% on the write-up of year 1 research project(s) will not progress to a PhD and will exit with an MSc.

Students may exit with an MPhil after at least 2 years of research effort (first taught year plus two in research, or 2 years of research for those who entered with an MSc).

Examined component: 90% (thesis and viva)

Assessed by coursework component: 10%

All Students - PhD Project

All students will undertake and complete a minimum of 2, more usually 3, but no more than 6 research projects. In general it is expected that at least 50% of the research work will be completed with the industrial partner. No maximum is placed on the research time apportioned to the industrial partner as long as Warwick supervision, monitoring and training are maintained throughout. However, usually at least one substantial research project will be completed at Warwick University.

The research projects will be written up and collected for examination in a thesis or thesis portfolio.

All registered students, full or part time, will have full University of Warwick access, including the Sports and Library facilities. Much Library material is available electronically.

Facilities and experimental costs
For projects requiring the use of Warwick facilities or projects being run at Warwick, all project costs should be estimated in advance and agreed with the Warwick supervisor. The supervisor will need to agree with their Head of Department that these costs are covered by appropriate income and that the resources will be by the supervisor following current practices.

Where projects require significant resource at Warwick cost contributions will be agreed in advance and subject to a contract between Warwick and the industrial partner. This contract will be drawn up by Research Support Services.

Intellectual Property
A contract or collaboration agreement will be agreed between Warwick and the industrial partner.

Postgraduate Certificate in Transferable Skills in Science
You will complete a Certificate in Transferable Skills in Science alongside your PhD. The aim of this certificate is to help you to develop to be a successful doctoral researcher and to maximise the impact of your training throughout.

The certificate consists of 6 modules over 3 years (normally 2 per year).

In the first year, you will complete PhD Skills 1 and Team Development and Networking. The Team Development and Networking module involves a 3-day residential stay.

In years 2 and 3, you will complete PhD Skills 2 and 3 and 2 optional modules from:

  • Decision Making and Leadership (final year only)
  • Epistemology and Psychology
  • From innovation to invention: Utilising knowledge to create value
  • Project management
  • Research Ethics
  • Science Communication
  • Teaching scientists
  • Writing focused scientific articles
  • Writing extended scientific articles

Further details are available at:

Professionals who can show that they have already completed equivalent transferable skills training may ask for part or full course waiver. This must be agreed in advance with the Director of Graduate Studies or Course Director.

A thesis submitted for the degree of Life Science Professional Doctorate (PhD) should be an original investigation characterised by rigorous methodology and capable of making a significant contribution to knowledge. The depth, effort and achievement is expected to be commensurate with the normal period of registration for a full-time or part-time PhD student.

‘To satisfy the requirements for the degree of PhD, a thesis shall constitute a substantial original contribution to knowledge which is, in principle, worthy of peer-reviewed publication. The thesis shall be clearly and concisely written, well argued, and shall show a satisfactory knowledge of both primary and secondary sources. In addition, it shall contain a full bibliography and, where appropriate, a description of methods and techniques used in the research.

The thesis shall not exceed 70,000 words.

The thesis must be the candidate’s own work except where it contains work based on collaborative research, in which case the nature and extent of the author’s individual contribution shall be indicated.

The thesis will have a substantial introduction and academic summary, including a rationale for the selection of projects. In addition it will consist of one of the following options:

A collection of at least 3 pieces of research presented as papers suited for submission in a peer-reviewed journal appropriate for the topic.

A portfolio of research reports based on each of the research projects undertaken. Each report must be academically presented, with context, data, analysis, and conclusions. Normally at least one report will be in the form of an academic research paper suited to submission in a peer-reviewed journal.

Students are encouraged to present their findings in national and international meetings.

Your main supervisor will support you by reading drafts, providing feedback and helping you to judge the appropriate style and level of your thesis.

Optional training for all students (Routes 1 and 2)

All students will have access to the Research Student Skills Programme. These training sessions are optional but designed to provide you with the skills and experience necessary to assist you in successful completion of your research and to prepare you for employment.

A wide range of skill topics are covered including Presentation and Communication, Research Management, Research Methods & IT, Academic Writing, Career Management.

  • Additional modules

All students can discuss with their supervisor any relevant training they may require from postgraduate MSc modules currently on offer. Once decided upon, you should contact Steve Jackson who will request permission for the modules to be attended. Two levels of commitment to a module are possible: simple attendance at lectures with no formal assessment or full attendance with assessment.

NOTE: Attendance with assessment at some additional modules (not required to pass the course) will attract fees.

Table 1: List of masters level courses available to Life Science PhD students


Name and code of module


HR927- Research techniques in life sciences


CH408 Advanced Medicinal and Biological Chemistry


CH920 Introduction to cellular systems and biomolecules


BS930 Advanced Biology


BS914 Biological Systems


CH911 Chromatography


CH914 Electroanalytical Chemistry


CH915 Elemental Analysis


CH932 Introduction to chemical aspects of biological systems.


BS968- Instrumentation for life sciences


CH921 Data acquisition I: Biophysical techniques and instrumentation design


CH908 Mass Spectrometry


CH916 Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy


BS918 Technologies in Systems Biology


CS402 High Performance Computing


CH922 Bioimaging and array technologies


HR905 Biometry: the application of statistical and mathematical methods to Biosciences


CH923 Statistics for Data Analysis (Bioinformatics)  


BS917 Advanced Modelling and Statistics


BS915 Advanced Bioinformatics


CS909 Data Mining


CS904 Computational Biology


CH927 Networks and pathways in cells


CH926 Computation II: Molecular modelling


CH925 Computation I: Numerical methods


CH924 Modelling and simulation: Connecting data to molecular information


ST903: Statistical Methods


ST952: Introduction to Statistical Practice


HR903 Bioscience, Politics and Social Acceptability


Academic Critique

All Students will have access to careers advice and information tailored specifically for Research students. This would cover academic and non academic career options to help you plan effectively for your next career move.