Image of Gareth Phoenix

Postgraduate study: information for UK and EU students

Thank you for visiting our web pages: I hope this is the first step on your path to graduating with a PhD from Sheffield. My team and I will make every effort to support you in that endeavour and strongly encourage applications from students who are excited and motivated by the challenge of research. This page, and the links from it, are designed to provide you with useful information, and guide you through the process of making a successful application.  If you have any questions which are not covered here, then please get in touch with us.


Gareth Phoenix (Director of Graduate Studies)

Photo of researcher in growth facility

Why Animal and Plant Sciences?

The Department of Animal and Plant Sciences is among the largest and most successful whole organism biology departments in the UK.  Independent assessments of the University of Sheffield and the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences demonstrate our national and international standing as a centre of excellence in research and teaching. The Department provides a vibrant and supportive research environment, with a community of approximately 50 PhD students from the UK, and many other countries.

Sampling microbial communities on a glacier

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Photograph of student group at the Interval cafe bar

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Flower in sub-arctic vegetation

Postgraduate opportunities for UK and EU students

We welcome enquiries from UK and EU students with strong interests in doing research work.  The opportunities available to students from the UK, and other European Union countries are essentially of three types:

  1. A funded studentship we are advertising with a project and supervisor already specified
  2. A project idea you agree with a potential supervisor, which can then be used as the basis for an application for scholarship funding from the University
  3. A project idea you agree with a supervisor, for which you have, or can obtain a source of support outside the University

We are very happy to consider projects and applications via any of these routes.

Time frame

We hold interviews in late January - early February, so you will need to start making enquiries early in the academic year to ensure you are considered in the main selection process.  However, if you miss the main selection deadline (15th Jan 2013), you should still contact us as we may have other funding opportunities.

What you should do:

First: have a look at the currently advertised projects with funded studentships ('Current opportunities') to see if any of those projects match your research interests.  (N.B. for EU students not from the UK, please read the section on funding (below) as studentship funding operates differently for UK and EU applicants).

If there is a project of interest here, then you can either contact the project supervisor to have an informal discussion and find out more, or go straight ahead an make a full application.

Second: If you have a good project idea, but there is nothing corresponding to that being advertised, look at the research of staff working in the relevant area.  If there seems to be someone with appropriate research interests then feel free to contact them directly to discuss your ideas.  If there seems to be potential to make an application to a University funding source they can advise you on this.

Third: If you are in a position to find funding a support from outside the University, and have a good project idea, then again we would encourage you to contact one or more potentially relevant staff, and discuss whether there is any scope for a research degree in that area.

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What qualifications are required?

We would expect you to have a first class, or upper second class, undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, or an equivalent qualification.  For non-UK students we also require a a good standard in a recognised English Language qualification (IELTS, or equivalent, of 5.5 or higher).

DNA sequence alignment

What are the differences between the funding sources?

Most of the 'Current Opportunities' advertised, are potentially funded by UK Research Councils (in particular NERC).  For UK students these studentships provide both academic fees, and a stipend (your maintenance), plus some support for research costs.  For EU students not from the UK, these studentships provide academic fees, and research costs only - your maintenance (living) costs are not covered, so you will need to have another source of support for this element.

Other studentship, or scholarship, funding that may be available through the University will usually fund both maintenance and fees, but may have specific eligibility requirements, which you will need to check in discussion with your potential supervisor.  Please be aware that these internal sources of funding a few in number, and very competitive.

If you have sources of funding from outside the University, then these will need to provide for both academic fees, and your maintenance (living) costs, and potentially for other research costs.  Obviously if you are able to obtain funding from outside the University, then you are not in competition for the limited pool of available studentships.

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Can I earn enough to support myself while doing a research degree?

No.  A UK PhD is a full time commitment, and whilst there are opportunities to earn some additional income by contributing to practical teaching, there is not sufficient of this work to provide an adequate income.  If you are working part time and wish to consider doing a research degree, then it may be that a part time MPhil, or PhD, might work for you.  Feel free to contact us to discuss this possibility if you wish.

What if I need more information?

Please contact Mrs Sue Carter ( if you need any other information about applying.