|Award Level (Nomenclature)
||PhD in Biological Sciences
|Director of Postgraduate Research
||Professor Maurizio Piai
||College of Science
|Frequency of Intake
||October, January, April, July
Singleton Campus/Bay Campus
|Mode of Study
|External Reference Points
||QAA Qualification Descriptors for FHEQ Level 8
||Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
|Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Body Accreditation
|Language of Study
This Programme Specification refers to the current academic year and provides indicative content for information. The University will seek to deliver each course in accordance with the descriptions set out in the relevant course web pages at the time of application. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after enrolment.
This PhD in Biological Sciences at Swansea will enable you to undertake a substantial project led by you. It is a highly respected qualification which is a necessary step in a career in academia, and also will open a wider scope for employment in fields such as education, government or the private sector. A thesis will be submitted for assessment demonstrating original research with a substantive contribution to the subject area. The PhD title is awarded following a successful oral examination of the thesis (a viva voce examination or viva voce). You will acquire research skills for high-level work and skills and training programmes are available on campus for further support. There will be opportunities to deliver presentations to research students and staff at departmental seminars and conferences. There may also be opportunities to develop your teaching skills through undergraduate tutorials, demonstrations and seminars.
This PhD programme will provide doctoral researchers with:
- The opportunity to conduct high quality postgraduate research in a world leading research environment.
- Key skills needed to undertake advanced academic and non-academic research including qualitative and quantitative data analysis.
- Advanced critical thinking, intellectual curiosity and independent judgement.
The programme comprises three key elements:
- Entry and confirmation of candidature
- Main body of research
- Thesis and viva voce
Doctoral researchers may pursue the programme either full time or part time by pursuing research at the University or with/at a University approved partner. The programme comprises of the undertaking of an original research project of 3 years duration full time (6 years duration part time).
Doctoral researchers for the PhD in Biological Sciences are examined in two parts.
The first part is a thesis which is an original body of work representing the methods and results of the research project. The format of the thesis and the maximum word limit for the main text are determined in conformity with current University regulations. The word limit is 100,000 for the main text. The word limit does not include appendices (if any), essential footnotes, introductory parts and statements or the bibliography and index.
The second part is an oral examination (viva voce).
Doctoral Researcher Supervision and Support
Doctoral researchers will be supervised by a supervisory team. Where appropriate, staff from Colleges/Schools other than the ‘home’ College/School (other Colleges/Schools) within the University will contribute to cognate research areas. There may also be supervisors from an industrial partner.
The Primary/First Supervisor will be the main contact throughout the doctoral research journey and will have overall responsibility for academic supervision. The academic input of the Secondary Supervisors will vary from case to case. The supervisory team may also include supervisors from industry or a specific area of professional practice, to support the research. External supervisors may also be drawn from other Universities.
The primary supervisor will provide pastoral support. If necessary the primary supervisor will refer the doctoral researcher to other sources of support (e.g. Wellbeing, Disability, Money@CampusLife, IT, Library, Students’ Union, Academic Services, Student Support Services, Swansea Employability Academy).
Programme Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this programme, doctoral researchers should be able to:
Knowledge & Understanding
- Demonstrate the systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge which is at the forefront of research through the development of a written thesis.
- Create, interpret, analyse and develop new knowledge through original research or other advanced scholarship.
- Disseminate new knowledge gained through original research or other advanced scholarship via high quality peer reviewed publications within the discipline.
- Apply research skills and subject theory to the practice of research.
- Apply process and standards of a range of the methodologies through which research is conducted and knowledge acquired and revised.
Attitudes and values
- Conceptualise, design and implement a project aimed at the generation of new knowledge or applications within Biological Sciences.
- Make informed judgements on complex issues in the field of Biological Sciences, often in the absence of complete data and defend those judgements to an appropriate audience.
- Apply sound ethical principles to research, with due regard for the integrity of persons and in accordance with professional codes of conduct.
- Demonstrate self-awareness of individual and cultural diversity, and the reciprocal impact in social interaction between self and others when conducting research involving people.
- Respond appropriately to unforeseen problems in project design by making suitable amendments.
- Communicate complex research findings clearly, effectively and in an engaging manner to both specialist (including the academic community), and non-specialist audiences using a variety of appropriate media and events, including conference presentations, seminars and workshops.
- Correctly select, interpret and apply relevant techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry.
- Develop the networks and foundations for on-going research and development within the discipline.
- Implement advanced research skills to a substantial degree of independence.
- Locate information and apply it to research practice.
Skills and Competencies
- Display the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment, including the exercise of personal responsibility and largely autonomous initiative in complex and unpredictable situations, in professional or equivalent environments.
Progress will be monitored in accordance with Swansea University regulations. During the course of the programme, the Doctoral researcher is expected to meet regularly with their supervisors, and at most meetings it is likely that the doctoral researcher’s progress will be monitored in an informal manner in addition to attendance checks. A minimum of four formal supervision meetings is required each year, two of which will be reported to the Postgraduate Progression and Awards Board. During these supervisory meetings the doctoral researcher’s progress is discussed and formally recorded on the on-line system. During the Academic year, engagement of the researcher with the programme is monitored periodically, approximately at monthly intervals.
The University offers training and development for Doctoral Researchers and supervisors (https://www.swansea.ac.uk/research/undertake-research-with-us/postgraduate-research/training-and-skills-development-programme/).
Swansea University’s Postgraduate Research Training Framework is structured into sections, to enable doctoral researchers to navigate and determine appropriate courses aligned to both their interest and their candidature stage.
There is a training framework including for example areas of Managing Information and Data, Presentation and Public Engagement, Leadership and working with others, Safety Integrity and Ethics, Impact and Commercialisation and Teaching and Demonstrating. There is also range of support in areas such as training needs, literature searching, conducting research, writing up research, teaching, applying for grants and awards, communicating research and future careers.
A range of research seminars and skills development sessions are provided within the College of Science and across the University. These are scheduled to keep the doctoral researcher in touch with a broader range of material than their own research topic, to stimulate ideas in discussion with others, and to give them opportunities to such as defending their own thesis orally, and to identify potential criticisms. Additionally, the College of Science is developing a research culture that aligns with the University vision and will link with key initiatives delivered under the auspices of the University’s Academies.
Swansea University’s research environment combines innovation and excellent facilities to provide a home for multidisciplinary research to flourish. Our research environment encompasses all aspects of the research lifecycle, with internal grants and support for external funding and enabling impact/effect that research has beyond academia.
Swansea University is very proud of our reputation for excellent research, and for the calibre, dedication, professionalism, collaboration and engagement of our research community. We understand that integrity must be an essential characteristic of all aspects of research, and that as a University entrusted with undertaking research we must clearly and consistently demonstrate that the confidence placed in our research community is rightly deserved. The University therefore ensures that everyone engaged in research is trained to the very highest standards of research integrity and conducts themselves and their research in a way that respects the dignity, rights, and welfare of participants, and minimises risks to participants, researchers, third parties, and the University itself.
Swansea Science has been recognised as being world-leading and having an impact globally. So many members of the College have contributed to this outcome; the researchers and colleagues who facilitate the excellent research environment and the students who debate and challenge the ideas that are always bubbling here. The amount of talent in the College is vast, and the quality and diversity of research is truly outstanding.
Having a PhD demonstrates that graduates can work effectively in a team, formulate, explore and communicate complex ideas and manage advanced tasks. Jobs in academia (eg postdoctoral research, lecturing), education, government, management, the public or private sector are possible. Examples include administrators, counsellors, marketing specialists, scientific consultants, scientists, and, researchers.
The Postgraduate Research Office Skills Development Team offer support and a training framework for example in creating a researcher profile based upon publications and setting up your own business. The Swansea Employability Academy assists students in future career opportunities, improving CVs, job applications and interview skills.