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We welcome applications to undertake research towards MPhil and PhD degrees in Biochemistry.

Research at Worcester has grown significantly in the last 10 years as the University itself has expanded. As a research student you will join a vibrant student community in our Research School and become part of our dynamic research environment.

The mechanics of life: discover the molecular machinery that lies at the heart of the cell and drives all living organisms. At Worcester, we look at the fascinating world of biochemistry from a variety of angles. Our Biochemistry team has a strong mix of academics with expertise in areas ranging from cancer immunology to genetics of plant breeding systems.

Overview

Overview

Key features

  • Available as a full-time or part-time course, completed over a maximum of six years.
  • All students are offered a wide range of optional training workshops throughout the programme focused around a wide range of themes.
  • You will be allocated to one of two pathways depending on your experience and knowledge as a researcher.
  • Access to an excellent range of research resources, including systems for protein purification, gravity chromatography, gene expression, electrophoresis and cell separation.
Entry requirements

What qualifications will you need?

Entry qualifications

For MPhil

  • First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree or an approved equivalent award

or

  • Research or professional experience which has resulted in appropriate evidence of achievement.

For PhD

  • Postgraduate Masters Degree in a discipline which is appropriate to the proposed programme of study

or

  • First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree or equivalent award in an appropriate discipline

or

  • Research or professional experience at postgraduate level which has resulted in published work, written reports or other appropriate evidence of achievement.

International applicants

International applicants will be required to demonstrate that they have the appropriate level of written and spoken English.

For MPhil/PhD this is an IELTS score of 7.0 with a minimum score of 7.0 in Written English.

Course content

What will you study?

PhD year by year

After receiving your application, we try to establish if we have the necessary expertise to supervise your project and we begin to form a supervisory team for you. This will normally consist of a Director of Studies (DoS), who will be your lead supervisor, and at least one other second supervisor, who will offer you additional support and guidance throughout your studies. If, following a successful interview, you are offered a place as a full-time student, your programme of study will look something like this:

First year

You will have submitted a draft research outline with your application. In your first six months, you will be working towards submitting a more complete research proposal, we call this an RDB1 Proposal. You will be aided in preparing for this by engaging with a 20-credit masters level module RTP401: Developing and Managing Your Research, and by meeting with your supervisory team to discuss your progress. You will meet with your supervisory team for 30 hours a year and this can be face-to-face or via Skype. Students who have not taken a recent research methods module in a relevant area will normally undertake a second module in their first year, in research methods. At the end of each year, beginning with your first year, you will work with your supervisors on completing a progress report, which we call an RDB7.

Second year

In your second year, you will be collecting data and working on your research project, under the supervision of your supervisors through regular meetings. In your second semester you will take a module titled RTP402: Dissemination, Impact and Engagement, which will help you begin to think about these three core themes. You may at this point have research papers ready to publish and you may wish to attend conferences to present your research to other experts in your field. You will be able to apply to our Research Student Support Scheme for some funding for this purpose (LINK). Students normally undergo Transfer from MPhil to PhD towards the end of their second year. At Transfer (RDB2), you will submit one to two chapters of your thesis and deliver a presentation to a question panel of experienced researchers.

Third and fourth year

In your third and fourth year, you will be writing up your thesis and preparing for your viva voce examination. This is an oral exam with two external examiners and a chair. You can also request that your supervisor be present at the exam. The exam will take place after you have submitted your final thesis. After the exam, it is not unusual for the examiners to ask that some minor amendments be made to your thesis before the final award is confirmed and you will have additional time to do this. It is possible to complete the course in three years, but we have found that the majority of students do take four years to complete the course.

Part time students follow the same structure as full time students but complete the PhD over a maximum period of six years.

Pathways

Students are allocated a pathway appropriate to their research experience and background.

Students without a previous research degree will normally be allocated Pathway 1. This means you will need to engage with all of the modules outlined above and undertake associated assignments. These modules will lead to the additional award of PG Cert in Research Methods at no additional cost.

Students with a previous research degree will normally be allocated Pathway 2 and this will mean they will not be required to engage with the taught elements of the course to the same extent as students on Pathway 1. We do still recommend that they attend all of the workshops, for example, but they would not need to submit the associated assignments. Students on Pathway 2 may request to switch to Pathway 1 at the start of their course, with approval of their supervisory team.

Regardless of Pathway, the Researcher Development team organize a range of workshops that all students will be invited to attend.

Supervision areas

How will you be supervised?

Benefit from a professional and challenging relationship with your supervisory team, drawn from experienced academics working at the forefront of their disciplines.

Supervision areas

The School of Science and the Environment has a strong mix of academics with a high degree of professional and personal experience, enabling you to get the most out of your programme. Our staff have expertise in:

  • Acute Myeloid Leukaemia
  • Human cell culture and analysis
  • Flow cytometry
  • Protein redox regulation
  • Cellular redox homeostasis
  • Cancer immunology and immunotherapy
  • Cancer cell signalling
  • Viral replication
  • Amino acid metabolism
  • Cell signalling (Receptor Tyrosine Kinase and cell-cell)
  • Ligand receptor interactions
  • Apoptosis
  • Genetics of plant breeding systems & hybridisation barriers
  • Molecular biology
  • Protein overexpression and purification
  • X-ray crystallography
  • Protein-protein interactions
  • Enzyme Kinetics

Resources

Access to the University of Worcester’s virtual resources and its state of the art library facilities. The Biochemistry team at Worcester have an excellent range of resources available to support your learning and your research project, including:

  • ÄKTA pure protein purification system
  • BIORAD gravity chromatography systems
  • NanoDrop 2000c spectrophotometer
  • Gene expression systems including; bacterial, yeast, insect cell, mammalian cell and lenti-viral systems
  • GuavaCyte flow cytometer
  • Biological safety cabinet containment level-2
  • PCR
  • qRT-PCR
  • GC-MS/MS
  • LC-MS
  • Gel imaging
  • Various electrophoresis systems, including; SDS-PAGE, Western blot and immunoelectrophoresis
  • ELISA
  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • MiniMACS cell separation system
  • Large-scale microbial incubators
  • Human cell culture facility

 

Programme specification

For comprehensive details on the aims and intended learning outcomes of the course, and the means by which these are achieved through learning, teaching and assessment, please download the latest programme specification document for the MPhil or PhD.

Supervisors

Please click on the name of the supervisor to follow a link to their webpage. We recommend contacting a potential supervisor with your research outline before submitting a formal application, please read our guidelines for writing your research outline first.  Please only contact one supervisor. If another supervisor is better suited to your project, we will redirect your query.

Dr Allain Bueno 
Expertise: dietary fats and the endocrine function of the adipose tissue and pancreas; diabetes and obesity as mild chronic inflammatory states and the role of endogenous antioxidants; cell membrane phospholipid composition in health and disease and its relation to nutritional status.

Self-funded project: Physical activity, sedentary behaviour and health wellbeing

Dr Ray Camilleri
Expertise: molecular and biochemical haematology, particularly in the areas of haemostasis and thrombosis; site-directed mutagenesis; DNA sequence analysis; cell culture (bacterial and mammalian (human) cell lines); protein expression; molecular biology, e.g. genomic DNA preparation (particularly from blood samples), PCR, restriction enzyme digestion, cloning.

Dr Amy Cherry 
Expertise: cancer cell signalling; viral Replication; protein expression and purification; crystallography; protein-protein interactions; molecular biology; gene cloning; mutagenesis; enzyme kinetics.

Dr Steven Coles 
Expertise: Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML); protein and cellular redox regulation; AML/cancer immunology and immunotherapy; the role of metabolic processes in disease pathogenesis (branched-chain amino acid metabolism); cell signalling and apoptosis.

Dr Claire Martin
Expertise: Environmentally responsive, controlled release delivery systems for wound management; formulation and assay development of novel antimicrobial agents; in vitro modelling of wound healing; and development of platform solid dosage formulation technologies combined with advanced drug delivery systems for the treatment of oropharyngeal and gastrointestinal infections.

Dr Mike Wheeler 
Expertise: cell-cell signalling in plants; plant receptor-ligand interactions; the biology and genetics of plant breeding systems; the genetics of natural hybridisation barriers in plants.

 

Careers

Where could it take you?

All research students must engage with the Researcher Development Programme (RDP), a core curriculum of training and development which provides them with the general and subject-specific knowledge, skills and behaviours to support them in the completion of their research degree.

At the beginning of the programme you will be required to complete a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) in conjunction with your Director of Studies. This identifies the training that you will need to undertake, in addition to the mandatory elements of RDP, in order to complete the programme and to become an effective researcher.

This TNA is revisited at the beginning of each subsequent academic year. All students are offered a wide range of optional training workshops throughout the programme focused around the following themes:

  • Developing and Managing Your Research
  • Dissemination, Impact, Engagement
  • Completing Your Research Degree
  • Research Methodology Master classes
  • Data Analysis
  • Research Funding
  • Wellbeing and Personal Effectiveness
  • Careers and Employability
  • Enterprise and Entrepreneurship
Costs

How much will it cost?

Fees

The current fees can be found within the tuition fees document on our figure out finances page.

Accommodation

Finding the right accommodation is paramount to your university experience, and our welcoming student communities are great places to live and study.

We have over 1,000 rooms across our halls of residence. With rooms to suit every budget and need, from our 'Traditional Hall' at £105 per week to 'En-suite Extra' at £169 per week (2020/21 prices).

For full details visit our accommodation page.

How to apply

How do you apply?

Additional information

As part of the application process, you will be asked to submit a research outline. We recommend preparing your research outline before beginning your online application. Some guidance on preparing your research outline is available here.

If your research involves working with vulnerable adults and/or children then you may be required to obtain a DBS check. There will be a small charge for this. For more information please contact research@worc.ac.uk.

We are committed to making reasonable adjustment. If you require an alternative format for making your application due to a disability, please contact us to discuss your needs on 01905 542182 or research@worc.ac.uk.

Make an application

Please make your application via our online application form. If you have any questions, please contact the Research School on 01905 542182 or research@worc.ac.uk

Before you submit a full application, please contact Dr David Storey (d.storey@worc.ac.uk) to discuss your research project and the availability of appropriate supervision.

January start

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