BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership

University of Nottingham - University of Nottingham & Rothamsted Research

Studentships available for a 4-year Interdisciplinary PhD programme

The University of Nottingham, in collaboration with Rothamsted Research (RRes) and its consortium partners: East Malling Research; Diamond Light Source; Research Complex at Harwell; Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) National Industrial Biotechnology Facility; and Crops for the Future Research Centre in Malaysia, have devised an integrated four-year Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) that provides PhD students with a world-class training programme in Biotechnology and Biological Sciences.

The Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary PhD training programme for an annual cohort of around 50 students. In the first six months you will gain experience of working on different projects in your research area by undertaking a series of 3 mini-projects. 

During this time you will be provided with the fundamentals of research in the appropriate area including statistics and experimental design and more advanced techniques including protein chemistry, bio-imaging and in vivo work.  There is also a comprehensive series of generic training which includes the basics of how to create a research poster, protecting IP and entrepreneurship and an interactive two-day course on communicating your science to the public. You can find more details on the training on the DTP website.

At the end of the first six months, you will choose a PhD project that develops from one or more of your mini-projects­. Details are available for some of the projects on offer for 2017/18. The research expertise within these areas can be found under the research pages of the DTP University partners: Life Sciences, Chemistry, Pharmacy, Biosciences, Psychology, Mathematics, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Science, Bioprocess, Environmental & Chemical Technologies Research Group,  Rothamsted Research and East Malling Research.  In your third year you can decide which one of a portfolio of national and international external placements you would like to undertake to expand your transferable skills. 

Applications are invited from students with backgrounds in Bioscience, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Biotechnology, Chemistry, Chemical/Biochemical/Process Engineering, Environmental Science, Pharmacy, Computer Science, Maths or related disciplines who have/expect to graduate with a first/upper-second UK honours degree, or equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK. Students with an appropriate Master’s degree are particularly encouraged to apply.

Opportunities are available in the following areas:

Molecules, Cells and Organisms

Applications are invited to join this innovative four-year PhD training programme with research opportunities across the biological spectrum, from Molecules to Cells and Organisms (MCO). Addressing research challenges in biosciences requires the application of experimental techniques drawn from the disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics. The studentship programme will therefore provide cutting-edge training at the interfaces of these disciplines.  The research projects cover both prokaryotic and eukaryotic (plant and animal, including human) systems and use experimental and theoretical approaches in areas such as:

  • Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Synthetic and Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemical and Structural biology
  • Molecular and Cell biology
  • Physiology and Pharmacology
  • Tissue and Protein engineering
  • Genetics, Evolution and Developmental biology
  • Neuroscience and Behavioural Science
  • Population Biology and Ecology
  • Mathematical modelling of biological systems
  • Antimicrobials and Antimicrobial Resistance

To apply for this opportunity, please quote ref BBSRC DTP MCO on the application form.  

See below for instructions on how to save your application and CV.

Industrial Biotechnology and the Bioeconomy

Applications are invited to join this innovative four-year PhD training programme with research opportunities in Industrial Biotechnology and the Bioeconomy (IBB). The future is set for renewable and waste feedstocks to play an increasing role as a source for chemicals, therapeutics and in energy production. The University of Nottingham is a global leader in Bioenergy, Biorenewables and Sustainable Chemistry, and has a strong focus on solving real-world problems using tools from synthetic biology, in partnership with major fuels and chemicals manufacturers and related biotechnology and pharma industries.

Projects areas include:

  • Synthetic biology approaches to the manufacture of chemicals, biochemicals, therapeutics and biofuels from waste or sustainable natural resources. This includes computational/systems biology aspects.
  • Fermentation and cell culture process development including aspects of up- and downstream processing, as well as bioanalytics. Examples include solving problems with product toxicity, product recovery, and bioreactor design.
  • Biocatalytic processing of biomass- and waste-derived feedstocks to produce viable substitutes for synthetic materials and polymers.
  • Sustainable bio-based and chemo-enzymatic manufacturing processes. Examples include directed evolution of new enzyme activities, enzyme design and modelling, chemo-enzymatic catalysis, biocatalytic reaction engineering.

To apply for this opportunity, please quote ref BBSRC DTP IBB on the application form.

See below for instructions on how to save your application and CV.


Agriculture and Food Security

Applications are invited to join this innovative four-year PhD training programme with research opportunities in Agriculture and Food Security (AFS). Providing, safe, sustainable food, with low environmental inputs for an increasing population is one of the most significant challenges facing the world. Addressing these issues requires integrative research across a range of disciplines, including:

  • understanding agricultural traits to improve yield,
  • quality and production of plants and animals,
  • food safety,
  • animal and plant health,
  • food processing and supply chains
  • antimicrobials and antimicrobial Resistance

Research projects are available across a range of topics that impact upon AFS in microbial and eukaryotic (plant and animal) systems, food safety, minimising waste, biomaterials processing, mathematics and integrative biology.

To apply for this opportunity, please quote ref BBSRC DTP AFS on the application form.

See below for instructions on how to save your application and CV.


Funding details

Funding is available for four years from late September 2017.  This studentship includes a three-month full-time placement outside of the research environment.  A full award would be fees plus an annual stipend. This is set by the Research Councils and was £14,296 for 2016/17.

Please note that scholarships will be awarded on the following basis:

Home students: fees and stipend

EU students: fees only (stipend may be paid with agreement of individual Schools, but is not guaranteed)

International students are NOT eligible to apply.


How to apply

Applicants should go to to download the application and reference forms.  Applications should include: a fully completed application form; a CV of no more than two A4 pages; a transcript of module marks achieved at the time of submission; and two references. Application forms and CVs should be named in the following format:

SURNAME-initial-DTP_MCO/IBB/AFS-application.doc (.docx or .pdf)

SURNAME-initial-DTP_MCO/IBB/AFS-cv.doc (.docx or.pdf) 

FOR EXAMPLE: SMITH-A-DTP­_MCO-application.doc (please change reference as applicable to the studentship you are applying for ie MCO or AFS or IBB)

Applications should be sent via email with the subject line ‘BBSRC DTP MCO/AFS/IBB to by the deadline:  Monday 12 December 2016, 12:00 noon.

References should be sent directly from the referees to by the deadline: Thursday 15 December 2016, 12:.00 noon.


Please note it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the references are sent in good time for the deadline.  Further details are on the reference form.

Enquiries should be sent to: