Postgraduate study

Infection Medicine PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Infection Medicine

Infection Medicine (IM) is a multidisciplinary centre at the University of Edinburgh that consists of academic and clinical research groups within the Edinburgh Medical School working on infectious diseases. The centre focuses on basic, translational and clinical aspects of infectious diseases caused by a broad range of different pathogens, and is part of the Edinburgh Infectious Diseases (EID) umbrella organization.

Involved in both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching for Biomedical Sciences (BMS), Biological Sciences (BS) and Medical (M.B.Ch.B.) students, the centre has developed an extended teaching and training portfolio ranging from various undergraduate courses on infectious diseases to online and residential Masters programmes, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses and a PhD programme in Infection Medicine.

Staff and students come from across the world and maintain a very international and interdisciplinary culture. IM principal investigators (PIs) lead or participate in a wide range of research and policy programmes with partners in the UK, Europe and globally. They have been instrumental in the foundation and operation of the Zhejiang University-University of Edinburgh Institute (ZJE) in China.

Infection Medicine focuses on the following five research themes:

Antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial Resistance is one of the greatest healthcare challenges of our time. This research theme explores various aspects of drug-pathogen and host-pathogen interactions to accelerate the development of novel diagnostics and therapeutics. Studies, both at the population and single cell level, include determining the mechanistic basis of antimicrobial, transmission dynamics and evolutionary aspects of resistance in key human pathogens such as Klebsiella pneumoniae and Listeria .They are undertaken in collaboration with NHS colleagues and international collaborators located in Africa, India and China.

Development of diagnostic tools

This multidisciplinary research theme combines biological and physical sciences to identify novel biomarkers and to develop new molecular detection systems and assay integration strategies. The development of point-of-care tests (POCT) and rapid diagnostics aims to improve therapeutic intervention, clinical management and surveillance of infectious diseases. Examples include tests for antimicrobial resistance, host susceptibility and circulating miRNAs as markers for inflammation and liver disease.

Global health

In the past few decades there has been almost one new infectious disease emerging each year and more than 75% of these diseases derive from zoonotic origins. The objective of this research theme is to develop strategies to manage these emerging diseases better whilst facing the challenge of endemic and often neglected infections in particular in low and middle income countries. By bringing together a diverse community of multidisciplinary researchers opportunities are created to identify, explore and address both local, region and global health challenges in order to bring about a positive change.

Pathogen biology and host-pathogen interactions

Understanding the multiplicity of mechanisms used by pathogens to cause infection and how the host senses and targets microbes is vital for the development of novel and more effective chemotherapeutic agents and vaccines. The goal of this research theme is to combine basic, translational and clinical research to increase this understanding. Specific areas of interest include microbial virulence factors, mechanisms of intracellular parasitism, virulence regulation and pathogen short-term adaptive responses, and pathogen ecology, genomics and evolution.

Systems biology and Big data analyses

Technical advances such as high throughput transcriptomic and proteomic analyses, genome-wide screens and next generation sequencing generate huge amounts of data. The aim of this research theme is to develop strategies to link diverse big datasets derived from patient healthcare data, whole genome sequencing and RNAseq data, in vitro genomic screens and data-rich experimental infection models. Projects in this theme include microbiome analyses using next generation sequencing, genome-wide RNA interference and CRISPR screens to detect host factors, and transcriptomic analyses for biomarker detection.

The centre offers exciting opportunities to pursue PhD research in the one of the cutting-edge research themes, and the possibility to engage simultaneously in basic, translational and clinical aspects of infectious diseases.

This programme is highly relevant for graduates with a biomedical sciences background. However, it is also attractive to international applicants with a medical undergraduate degree who are interested to achieve a PhD within a defined short period of time (3 years), as an important step on the track to become a research clinician in the field of infectious diseases.

The research training provided is supported by access to a wide range of scientific and clinical seminars. In addition, transferable skills and competencies in many relevant areas will be enhanced by courses in presentation skills, project management and writing skills delivered through the University of Edinburgh's Institute of Academic Development (IAD).

IM is based on the Edinburgh BioQuarter campus and offers excellent research facilities to support advanced interdisciplinary scientific and clinical research. The centre has facilities for handling clinical samples and culturing a wide range of pathogens and host cells. It has high throughput equipment for genetic, biochemical, cytological and immunological screening and has access to state-of-the-art microscopy, genomic, proteomic and microscopy facilities. IM also offers the opportunity to get involved into clinical research studies at the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh and at other hospitals.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 (at least 6.0 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 (at least 20 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: total 61 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections; the "Enabling Skills" sections are not considered)

  • CAE and CPE: total 176 (at least 169 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Academic Technology Approval Scheme

If you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you may need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme clearance certificate in order to study this programme.

Additional programme costs vary depending on the individual projects.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDInfection Medicine (Biomedical Sciences)3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhDInfection Medicine (Biomedical Sciences)6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Infection Medicine, The University of Edinburgh Medical School
  • Chancellor's Building
  • 49 Little France Crescent
  • Little France
  • Edinburgh
  • EH16 4SB

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit two references with your application.

Before making your application, you must make contact with a potential supervisor to discuss your research proposal. Further information on making a research degree application can be found on the College website:

You will be formally interviewed (in person, by video-conferencing or Skype).

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Infection Medicine, The University of Edinburgh Medical School
  • Chancellor's Building
  • 49 Little France Crescent
  • Little France
  • Edinburgh
  • EH16 4SB