Biological Sciences (Functional and Comparative Genomics)

MPhil / PhD

Each organism, whether animal, plant or microbe, is defined by its genome and this same information can be used by us to investigate wide ranging biological phenomena and even alter biology itself through the production of transgenic organisms.

How to bring the genome to life

Our research spans the biological sciences from genes and their regulation to whole organisms and ecosystems. We work with viruses, bacteria, fungi, animals, insects, plants and humans using state-of-the-art technologies, bioinformatics and mathematical models.

  • 83%

    of our research outputs are rated 3* or 4* REF (2014).

  • £17.5m

    research grant funding awarded in a two year period.

  • 160

    PhD and master's students.

Research at Liverpool

Comparative genomics represents the analysis of DNA sequences from different organisms, allowing us to understand how individuals differ or species have diverged.

This approach underpins studies ranging from evolutionary and population biology to the analysis of changes that result in cancer development or the identification of critical genetic factors relevant to personalised medicine.

Functional genomics is the application of DNA sequence data to determine how organisms and specific processes work, whether through the identification of specific genes, monitoring gene expression globally (transcriptomics and proteomics) or facilitating the direct analysis and manipulation of specific genes and proteins.

Our research aims to understand how biological systems are functionally integrated within the context of the whole organism using the most recent advances in genomic and post genomic technologies.

We have a proven track record and leading expertise in the use of Next Generation DNA sequencing (NGS) and bioinformatics, digital and array-based transcriptomics, proteomics, computational modelling, whole organism and cell imaging, conventional physiology and molecular biology and classical genetics.

These are combined to unravel the evolution, physiology, biochemistry and genetics of complex biological systems.

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, overseas governments and industrial collaborators.

Research interests

We particularly welcome research proposals that match those of our researchers, including:

  • Genomic analysis of pathogens
  • Environmental microbiology and virology
  • Gene expression, regulation and cell signalling mechanisms
  • Animal physiology
  • Molecular toxicology
  • Bionanotechnology
  • Plant breeding and biotechnology.

Facilities

  • The Centre for Genomic Research
  • The GeneMill Synthetic Biology Laboratory
  • The Computational Biology Facility
  • The Centre for Cell Imaging
  • The Centre for Proteome Research

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 £4,260 £19,850 (Lab based programmes) £16,150 (Non Lab based programmes)
Part time 4-6 years £2,130 £9,925 (Lab based programmes) £8,075 (Non Lab based programmes)
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 £4,260 £19,850 (Lab based programmes) £16,150 (Non Lab based programmes)
Part time 4-6 years £2,130 £9,925 (Lab based programmes) £8,075 (Non Lab based programmes)
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 £4,260 £19,850 (Lab based programmes) £16,150 (Non Lab based programmes)
Part time 2-6 years £2,130 £9,925 (Lab based programmes) £8,075 (Non Lab based programmes)

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

Your training and development

Join us and you'll also join the Liverpool Doctoral College, our home for doctoral support, training and development. You'll join a vibrant and collaborative community of researchers, get tailored support for your development and have the opportunity to undertake a work placement.

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