Biological Sciences (Biochemistry)

MPhil / PhD

Our goal is to understand the biochemistry and cell science underlying normal development and how it goes awry during human diseases. Our research programmes are generously funded and span disciplines from essential protein biology and glycobiology to cell signalling and gene regulation.

Understanding molecules and then life

Our research of fundamental biochemistry puts the cell's chemistry into the context of the whole organism in normal and diseases states. By understanding the causes of a disease, we can control symptoms or eradicate it.

The life of a postgraduate student is busy and fun and includes a broad variety of activities.

Dr Violaine See - Biochemistry Lecturer
  • 13

    mass spectrometers for quantitative proteomics and metabolomics.

  • £17.5m

    research grant funding awarded in two years.

  • 160

    PhD and master's students.

Research at Liverpool

The key principle behind our research is the recognition that to elucidate cell, organ or organismal function in health and disease requires an integrated approach utilising the best available cutting-edge technologies.

Research programmes are generously funded through grants from the BBSRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust, British Heart Foundation, North West Cancer Research, European Commission and other organisations. Our investigators are involved in translational research for applications in drug discovery and tissue engineering.

We offer intense PhD training programmes with exposure to a wide range of technologies. Much research is multidisciplinary with strong collaborative links within the Institute and also to physical, chemical and clinical sciences across the Liverpool campus. We use technologies such as electrophysiology, biosensors, proteomics, transcriptomics, NMR, X-Ray crystallography, enzyme assays, confocal microscopy, nanoparticles, protein structure modelling and molecular biology.

Recent research highlights from students and staff over the last two years include publications in Science, Molecular Cell, Developmental Cell, Nature Protocols, EMBO Journal, Oncogene, Journal of Cell Biology and Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Many of our students are recognised for the role they play in communicating their science to the wider community. On completing their PhDs our students have taken competitive post-doctoral positions in the UK and abroad, or elect career paths in the NHS, government or the commercial sector.

As an Institute devoted to Integrative Biology, we span the range of biosciences from the fine-scale resolution of biomolecular structure through the genome-wide analysis of cells and organisms, to the evolution and ecology of organisms in their natural environment.

Underpinning this diversity, we offer world class facilities and infrastructure for research, and superb links to internationally excellent partners in both the academic and industrial sectors.

Our research seeks to answer fundamental questions, and to address key issues of contemporary concern. We were awarded a prize in the UK-wide BBSRC 2011 ‘Excellence with Impact’ competition, which commended the work of our graduate students in impact activities.

Our PhD completion rates are ranked amongst the highest in the UK by the Times Higher Education Supplement, one of only two Universities to have repeatedly ranked in the top four institutions. Furthermore, our complementary training programme was awarded the highest grade in the QAA review of all HEI PGR training. In addition, the Institute is one of only 10 organisations in UK universities in 2017 to hold a gold AthenaSWAN award for gender equality in science education and research.

Our PhD programme is financed by substantial training grants from the main UK Government Research Councils, including the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council and The Medical Research Council, as well as charitable trusts, such as North West Cancer Research, Wellcome Trust, the European Commission, overseas governments and industrial collaborators.

Research themes

Our research theme is the molecular basis of therapeutic targeting.

This theme deals with the identification and study of key biological macromolecules that influence disease processes, or change in response to pathological conditions. By understanding the underlying causes of a disease, the outcome can often be manipulated to control disease symptoms and/or eradicate the disease.

Many diseases arise from problems in how cells communicate:

  • Between the cells themselves (central to many neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s and depression)
  • In the way that they respond to different external conditions (stimuli)
  • In the interactions of the biological molecules (mainly proteins) within cells at local or distal (eg metastatic) sites.

The broad expertise of the researchers working on this theme helps extract basic knowledge and its therapeutic use in collaboration with clinicians, chemists, and industrial partners

Facilities

We've developed an unparalleled range of core facilities including:

  • The Centre for Proteome Research, equipped with 13 mass spectrometers for quantitative proteomics and metabolomics
  • The Centre for Glycobiology, which has pioneered the development of many technologies in the field of glycomics
  • The Centre for Cell Imaging, with expertise in advanced live cell imaging using both fluorescence and luminescence-based systems. This houses the first photothermal microscope in the UK for nanoparticle-based single molecule imaging.
  • The Liverpool Enzyme Screening and Assay Facility, a collaboration  between academia and pharmaceutical companies
  • The Centre for Genomic Research
  • The GeneMill Synthetic Biology Laboratory
  • The Computational Biology Facility
  • The NMR Centre for Structural Biology
  • The Barkla X-ray Laboratory of Biophysics.

Study options and fees

MPhil

The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) can be thought of as a shorter version of the PhD. It requires the same research skills, training, planning, and project management. It can be a way to assess whether you wish to undertake doctoral research - or it can be taken for its own sake.

Duration Fees: Home and EU Students Fees: International Students
Full time 2-4 years £4,195 £15,350
Part time 4-6 years £2,098 £7,675
PhD

A doctoral degree is awarded to students that have demonstrated the ability to conceptualise, design, and implement a substantial research project that results in new knowledge, applications, or understanding in their field of study. During your research, you can expect to draw on direct clinical and observational experience to produce an original thesis of 80,000-100,000 words. You'll be part of a research group which matches your research interests. Research groups offer opportunities for cross-disciplinary research collaboration, as well as support and expertise for your research.

Duration Fees: Home and EU Students Fees: International Students
Full time 2-4 years £4,195 £15,350
Part time 4-6 years £2,098 £7,675
MD

The Doctor of Medicine (MD) is a doctoral degree open to medical practitioners (technically, anyone holding a medical qualification registrable with the General Medical Council). It is equivalent in requirements and format to the PhD.

Duration Fees: Home and EU Students Fees: International Students
Full time 2-4 years £4,195 £15,350
Part time 2-6 years £2,098 £7,675

Entry requirements

Eligibility and entry qualifications

A good (2:1 or above) Honours first degree in an appropriate science subject is required as a minimum, which, preferably, will be relevant to the area of interest.

English language requirements

To apply for this research degree, you must have reached a minimum standard of English. You need to be able to provide evidence of this.  See our English language requirements for international students for guidance on the different English language qualifications and evidence that you can provide. 

International qualifications

We welcome applications from within the EU and from around the world. You should ensure that your qualifications are equivalent to those which are required to study for this research degree.  See our guidance on international qualifications.

Additional requirements

How to apply

Research degree applications can be made online.  Before you apply, we recommend that you identify a supervisor and develop a research proposal.  You'll also need to ensure that you have funding to cover all fees.

Applications are open all year round.

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Your supervisor is your main source of academic support and mentoring. You'll need to find a supervisor before you start your research degree. It's helpful to identify a supervisor and discuss your research proposal before you apply.

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Related studentships

Funding

LDC module

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