Postgraduate study

Molecular Plant Sciences PhD

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Molecular Plant Sciences

With world-class facilities and lively collaborations, our Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences provides you with the ideal environment in which to pursue postgraduate research.

We’re one of the most active university departments for plant sciences in the UK, hosting one of the country’s few plant-based research and teaching institutes.

Each of our 11 research groups makes vital contributions to new discoveries. You’ll be able to choose from a broad range of topics, applying multidisciplinary approaches – from computational biology to molecular genetics and cell biology – and to subjects ranging from plant growth, development and evolution to plant pathogen interactions and biotechnology.

Broad scope

We offer a wide range of research interests, including plant biotechnology, developmental biology; speciation and natural variation (making use of our strong connections with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh); circadian clocks and photobiology; bio-imaging; biochemistry and cell biology; and molecular plant pathology.

Substantial investment has been made in ensuring the equipment and facilities you’ll use are as good as those anywhere in the world.

You’ll work in purpose-built laboratories and specialist facilities for plant growth, including a high-throughput Arabidopsis genetics facility, a suite of biochemistry equipment, more than 700m2 of controlled environment growth rooms and 2,200m2 of glasshouses, including a modern category three containment glasshouse.

Our strong links with the Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology, SynthSys, and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh give you access to an even broader range of facilities and expertise.

These entry requirements are for the 2022/23 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2023/24 academic year will be published on 3 October 2022.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant subject. You should have some research experience and be able to demonstrate that you have a good understanding of the field you propose to study.

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 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: 62 overall with at least 59 in each component.

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, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

(*Revised 17 November 2021 to add accepted PTE Academic qualifications.)

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:

Additional programme costs

Most laboratories require a bench fee of up to £5,000 per year. These costs may be covered in Research Council studentships

Further research costs may be required, depending on your project requirements.

Living costs

You will be responsible for covering living costs for the duration of your studies.

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhD3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhD6 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
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Graduate School of Biological Sciences
  • Mary Bruck Building
  • Colin Maclaurin Road
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3DW

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.

To discuss your PhD proposal, you should identify potential supervisors from the School of Biological Sciences.

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

Further information

  • Graduate School of Biological Sciences
  • Mary Bruck Building
  • Colin Maclaurin Road
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3DW