The South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership PhD is a fully-funded, four-year programme designed to provide training in cutting edge world-class bioscience research skills, underpinned by training in numerical and systems based approaches.

The SWBio DTP differs from most other bioscience doctoral training schemes in providing a hybrid scheme that combines the best of traditional project-focussed studies with a supporting but focussed taught first year with directed rotation projects.

First year

In the first year we aim to deliver a broad awareness of the fundamental research approaches in life sciences and how they could be applied to real-life situations.  This is delivered through assessed taught units and rotation projects. Successful completion of the taught first year qualifies all students for an MRes exit route should this be required.

Taught units

There are three common taught units to complete which are designed specifically for the SWBio DTP and will encompass training in Statistics, Bioinformatics, coding, experimental design, innovation and understanding the impact of your research in society, business and industry.

You will be taught as a single cohort at a common location across the partnership, cultivating an environment of peer-to-peer learning and utilising the resources and expertise of each of the partners.

Rotation projects

You will undertake two rotation projects, allowing hands-on experience of research. This will give you an awareness of the methods not only for your main PhD, but also for supporting further career development where an awareness and understanding of a wider range of methods may be appropriate.

You will have a different project supervisor for each rotation project, to give a breadth to the training received. The two rotation projects are both allied with but in different disciplinary areas related to the PhD project.  Where possible, this will allow refinement of your PhD in line with your emerging research interests as the programme progresses.

The first project will be part-time in parallel with the taught units between October and March, the second project will be full-time during April to August.

Second to fourth years

The remaining three years will be more like a conventional PhD, with progression based on scientific reports and vivas. You will be taking on full-time research and likely to be based in the research group of your main supervisor.  You will have 4 years in which to complete and submit your PhD thesis.

Cohort activities

Throughout your studies, you will also be expected to attend a number of cohort activities (for example the SWBio DTP Annual Student Conference, Student-led Away Day), outreach events, innovation schemes (for example the BBSRC Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES)),  where you will get the chance to meet and interact with other students from the partnership.


As part of the programme, you will either complete a:

  • a PIPS (Professional Internships for PhD Students) - a 3-month full-time placement (or part-time equivalent) outside of an academic research environment during your second or third year (optional for CASE studentships)
  • or a placement with a CASE partner - a minimum of 3-months placement during your studies with your listed CASE partner (CASE studentships only)

Placements are increasingly being seen as essential steps in many career and are intended to broaden the scope of your employability post-graduation, in particular encouraging you to use your doctoral training skills in a broader range of careers.