School of Biological and Marine Sciences

PhD on the Basis of Prior Published Works in Biological Sciences

Conduct research at the cutting edge of the discipline, working alongside a team of specialist academic advisors. Our staff work in a wide range of fields, including ecology and evolution, marine biology, ecophysiology, developmental biology, animal behaviour, conservation biology and biological responses to global change. See our research group and staff pages for details.

Course details

  • Programme overview

  • Prior to acceptance onto the programme, an applicant will be asked to produce a report providing an overview of the publications/contributions they have made (hereafter referred to as the prima facie case). This will be independently reviewed to ensure the applicant broadly has an appropriate background and experience for acceptance onto the programme.
    Once accepted onto the programme, the programme is part-time with a maximum duration of 12 months. Candidates will work towards producing a research portfolio that will evidence they have:
    • personally made a systematic study
    • shown independent, critical and original powers; and
    • made a distinct contribution to knowledge. 

    In addition to the research outputs, the research portfolio must also include an integrative summary written by the candidate of between 7500-15000 words. The purpose of the integrative summary is to provide a critical overview and synthesis of the research outputs submitted and their contribution to the discipline. The submission as a whole must be framed as a single coherent research project.
    In preparing the research portfolio, the candidate will be advised and assisted by a Director of Studies (DoS) who is experienced in the subject area, and who has successfully supervised at least two doctoral level degrees to completion.
    For full details on what the programme entails, please read the section 'AWD2 PhD on the Basis of Prior Published Works' in the University of Plymouth Academic Regulations .

Entry requirements

Applicants will be considered on a case-by-case basis. However, the programme is only open to experienced professionals with a proven track record in innovation within the domain. For full details on application process and what the programme entails, please read the section ‘AWD2 PhD on the Basis of Prior Published Works’ in the University of Plymouth Academic Regulations.
Find out more about our research groups, their members and interests via the School of Biological and Marine Sciences before applying. The research group leaders will be happy to answer your questions about potential supervisors and research topics.
Please contact Dr Mick Hanley with any additional queries.

Fees, costs and funding

Please visit tuition fees for postgraduate research for information about fees.
You are responsible for meeting all of the costs related to your own research project, beyond the resources available in the department.
Please visit our postgraduate research money matters article to find out more about issues related to fees, funding, loans and paying for your programme of study.
If you have other questions about the programme fees, please contact the Doctoral College Admissions Team

How to apply

The application process comprises two phases:
  • Phase 1: Expression of Interest (no fee)
  • Phase 2: Full prima facie application (fee payable)
Phase 1: Expression of Interest
Applicants must first submit an Expression of Interest to the University’s Doctoral College Admissions Team -  - comprising:
  • an abstract of their research (of no more than 300 words)
  • a list of the works on which the submission is likely to be based, and
  • a curriculum vitae (no longer than 5 pages)
There is no fee attached to this phase of application.
The Doctoral College will, having consulted with relevant Faculties, send the application for consideration by the appropriate School within the University.
The purpose of this stage is to enable the University to determine whether resources and expertise are available to support the applicant to completion of the degree within this area of study.
Phase 2: Full prima facie application
If, under Phase 1 (above), a Faculty confirms that it has the resources and expertise to support the research content to completion, candidates must submit a full application within three months of the Phase 1 outcome. The purpose of Phase 2 is to satisfy the University that a prima facie case can be made for candidature.
An application ‘reading fee’ is payable for this phase. Details of application and tuition fees for postgraduate research students are linked from our Fees and costs of studying page.
The Faculty Doctoral Committee will determine whether a prima facie case exists and if accepted then the applicant will be permitted to enrol for the degree and to prepare their submission for examination.
The successful candidate will be assigned a supervisory team and have a maximum of 12 months from the time of approval of the prima facie case to prepare their final submission for examination.
For full details on how to apply and what the programme entails, please read the section ‘AWD2 PhD on the Basis of Prior Published Works’ in the University of Plymouth Academic Regulations. When you are ready to make an application, please complete an expression of interest template and return it to

Meet our school technical staff   

Our technical staff are integral to the delivery of all our programmes and bring a diverse range of expertise and skills to support students in laboratories, workshops, and the field. 

Our research environment

Our staff are world-leading experts who are passionate and committed to both their research and teaching. This expertise provides a stimulating environment in which to develop your career.
Staff in the biology subject area are affiliated with the University's Strategic Research Institutes, linking you to a network of people that will enhance your research experience, and will allow you to meet fellow research students from a wide range of disciplines.
tiger in enclosure
Coastal Processes Research Group Perranporth beach
Postgraduate research students listening to a talk