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Synthetic Biology Centre for Doctoral Training

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Information regarding entry in Octboer 2019 will be posted here in December 2018. Please check the website again then.

Programme overview

Welcome to the EPSRC & BBSRC Synthetic Biology Centre for Doctoral Training (SynBioCDT). The SynBioCDT is a collaboration between the Universities of Oxford, Bristol and Warwick offering 4-year PhD training studentships in the new field of Synthetic Biology, the "Engineering of Biology".

The course is designed for students with both physical and life sciences backgrounds. The first two terms are devoted to acquiring the necessary theoretical and technical skills through a combination of intensive lecture courses, practicals, seminars, project work and research and communication skills training. Over the third term and summer period of the first year, students undertake two extended projects of approximately ten weeks' duration each. These are similar in scope to a Masters' level project and serve both as advanced training and to help students to choose their research topic for the final three years of the course.

On completion of the projects, students undertake their substantive PhD research projects in the area of Synthetic Biology.

NOTE: All successful applicants will spend the first six months of their studentship at the University of Oxford, where staff from all three Universities will contribute equally to their training.

The Synthetic Biology CDT will produce internationally excellent researchers with key skills desired by prospective employers in the nascent field of Synthetic Biology. Students graduating from the CDT will be ideally placed to progress into many different scientific-based jobs, including multi-disciplinary research in both academia and industry. There are strong links to diverse industrial partners, some of whom will sponsor PhD projects.


The EPSRC and BBSRC, universities, industrial partners and charitable trusts provide funding for approximately 15 four-year studentships each year for students across the partnership. Funding will cover full tuition fees and pay an annual stipend of at least £14,553 (the stipend will rise slightly each academic year in line with Research Council UK levels).


Applications are encouraged from UK, EU and International students.
Please be aware that International (non EU) applicants are not eligible for EPSRC/BBSRC funded studentships.

Information on eligibility requirements for EPSRC/BBSRC studentships.

To be eligible for a full EPSRC/BBSRC award (Tuition fees and Stipend) a student must meet all of the requirements detailed below:

  • Settled status in the UK, meaning they have no restrictions on how long then can stay and
  • Been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the studentship. This means they must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences) and
  • Not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education (this does not apply to UK or EU nationals).

To be eligible for an EPSRC/BBSRC tuition fees only award:

  • Students from EU countries other than the UK are generally eligible for a fees-only award. To be eligible for a fees-only award, a student must be ordinarily resident in a member state of the EU, in the same way as UK students must be ordinarily resident in the UK.

Entry requirements

  • Applicants must be predicted or have achieved a first-class or an upper second class undergraduate degree (or equivalent international qualifications) as a minimum in Physical Sciences (e.g. Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics, Plant Sciences) or Life Sciences (e.g. Biology, Biochemistry) with strong mathematical skills.
  • 2 satisfactory academic references
  • Submit an English Language test certificate (if appropriate) – acceptable tests can be found at: 

Please note: It is a requirement that overseas students will show that their ability to understand and express themselves in both written and spoken English is sufficiently high for them to derive the full benefit from the PhD. Please note that the requirement for admission is IELTS 7.5 (with component scores two at 6.5/7.0 & rest 7.5+) or equivalent. More information can be found at: 

Application procedure

To apply to Warwick:

NOTE - We are no longer accepting applicaitons for October 2018 start.

  • Complete the online postgraduate application form and select PhD Synthetic Biology (P-C1PN).
    In the supporting information section (or attach a separate document if you prefer) enter your personal statement/research proposal.
    This should be written in the form of a 1,000-word essay and will be assessed for your research interests and your reasons for applying to the course, as well as how your background and experience relates to Synthetic Biology. It is not necessary to provide a detailed research proposal, but you should give a brief description of the area in which you wish to carry out research. This need not be specific, if you have not yet decided on your preferred topic or area. Your proposal will be assessed for coherence, evidence of motivation and understanding of the proposed area of study.
  • Upload a transcript from your current or previous study, a CV and any other documents that you feel would support your application.
  • Ask your referees to submit a reference for you. Note: when you submit your application, an email will automatically be sent to your referees requesting a reference for you. This email will contain a secure link for your referee to upload a reference for you.

Applications will be considered on receipt.

For enquiries please email Nikki Glover at:

Further information can be found at the SynBio CDT website.

Information on the Warwick Centre for Integrative Synthetic Biology can be found on the WISB website.