Medical and Healthcare Studies: Fully Funded KESS II Part-time MSc by Research Scholarship: Development of a multiplex PCR assay to detect viable probiotic bacteria in multi-strain preparation

Closing date: 21 June 2019

Key Information

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*This scholarships is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.*

MSc by Research in the field of: Medical and Healthcare Studies (Molecular Microbiology)

Start date: October 2019 

*This is a part-time MSc by Research scholarship.

Cultech Limited are a South Wales based SME who specialize in the manufacture of nutritional supplements and are recognized for their ability to manufacture high quality and effective probiotics. Probiotics are defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “live micro-organisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host” and efficacy is considered to be dependent on the viability and the species/strain of the organism. As such, national regulatory agencies including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) require viable numbers and strain-level taxonomy of each organism within probiotic products to be declared on the finished goods packaging. The industry standard method for the enumeration of numbers of viable organisms is viable plate counting (VPC) and is adequate for simple, mono-strain products but much less effective for more complex multi-strain products where growth competition can occur between closely related species/strains. This represents a significant challenge to probiotic industry as the demand for multi-strain and multicomponent products is rapidly increasing on the basis of improved health benefits. This part-time Masters by Research will scrutinize Cultech’s recently sequenced probiotic genomes for  unique sequences that, once identified, can be targeted by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in order to rapidly identify and enumerate component organisms. The candidate will then optimise multiplex PCR and further develop this to attempt to quantify only the viable bacteria in these preparations.

Scholarships are collaborative awards with external partners including SMEs and micro companies, as well as public and third sector organisations. The scholarship provides funding over 2 years part-time with a 3 month period to complete the thesis. The achievement of a postgraduate skills development award, PSDA, is compulsory for each KESS II scholar and is based on a 40 credit award.


Candidates should have a 2.1 or above in their undergraduate degree in a related scientific discipline and have a home address within the convergence area ( They should also be eligible for UK/EU Fees (see for more information). 

We would normally expect the academic and English Language requirements to be met by point of application. For details on the University’s English Language entry requirements, please visit –

For more information on eligibility criteria please refer to section C of the KESS II Participant Proposal Form.

Any queries relating to Section C – Eligibility, please contact


The studentship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a stipend. The bursary will be limited to a maximum of £11,702 p.a. (pro-rata) dependent upon the applicant's financial circumstances as assessed in section C point 4 on the KESS II Participant Proposal Form

There will also be additional funds available for research expenses.

Please note that a KESS student is not eligible for a Postgraduate Master's Degree loan, because they will be in receipt of KESS II support.

How to Apply

Applicants are strongly advised to contact Dr Paul Facey regarding information on the area of research by email (

To apply:

  1. Complete the KESS II Participant Proposal Form 2019-20
  2. Complete the KESS II Supplementary Form
  3. You will also need to provide copies of the following documentation:
  • Degree certificates
  • References
  • CV
  • English language certificate (if required)
  • All supporting documentation as detailed in Section C of the KESS II Participant Proposal Form

Please return both application forms and supporting documentation to the KESS office at the address stated on the KESS application form (original ink signatures only).

For any other queries, please contact:

The deadline for applications is 4pm 21 June 2019.