School of Biological and Marine Sciences

ResM Biological Sciences

This research masters programme will give you the opportunity to conduct research alongside staff at the forefront of their academic disciplines across the biological sciences. You will be supported within an active interdisciplinary learning environment, working on a research topic in collaboration with your supervisor leading to a formal postgraduate qualification.

The programme offers you the flexibility to shape your research in an area of particular interest to you, alongside the opportunity to gain research skills from our taught modules both within the School and across the wider University. Potential applicants should first contact a member of academic staff from the list of projects below and the specifics of the research should be agreed with the supervisor before an application to study is made.

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Postgraduate loans

You may now be eligible for a government loan of up to £10,280 towards the cost of your masters degree.

Find out more about your eligibility for a postgraduate loan

Key features

  • A flexible programme of research that is ideal if you are interested in pursuing a specific shorter-term research project, perhaps whilst working
  • Weekly research seminars from external speakers
  • A bespoke training pathway tailored to your individual needs.
  • Modules may be chosen from a variety of existing taught masters programmes and can span disciplines and faculties as appropriate.
  • Personalised expert supervision (you'll be assigned a Director of Studies and an additional supervisor)

Course details

  • Overview
  • This programme incorporates taught elements (a minimum of 40 credits and a maximum of 120 credits) and an extended research phase.

    You must take and pass at least two taught and assessed modules (40 credit) to equip you with the appropriate level of research skills. The specific modules will be agreed together with your supervisor.  These taught elements typically focus on research methods, contemporary issues and methodological skills, but may vary according your individuals needs and the subject area. 

    On passing these modules you will progress to your research project.

Entry requirements

You will need a good 2:1 or first class honours degree, or international equivalent, in an area of study appropriate to your project, and at least a 2:1 in the research project component of your degree.

An IELTS score of 7 or equivalent is required if you are an international student.

Before applying you should approach a potential supervisor for your research project and agree a project title and module combination. Your offer letter will then reflect the specific combination of modules and project agreed.

Fees, costs and funding

Please visit tuition fees for postgraduate research for information about fees. The ResM Biological Sciences is in Band 2 for fees purposes.

If you are a full time student, you will pay full time fees for one year. If you have not submitted your thesis by the end of this period, then you will have to pay for an optional six month 'writing up' period to complete your thesis (that is, half of the 'writing up' fee indicated on this page).

If you are a part time student, you will pay part time fees for two years. If you have not submitted your thesis by the end of this period, then you will have to pay for an optional one year 'writing up' period to complete your thesis.

You are responsible for meeting all of the costs related to your own research project, beyond the resources available in the department.

This programme is eligible for a postgraduate loan.

How we can support your research project

There are a number of research themes across the School and staff members can be approached to discuss potential ResM projects within their research specialisms. 

In addition, there are also specific project areas where staff would particularly welcome applications: 

Dr Mark Farnworth: Surveys of owner and companion animal interactions
  • Motivation and behaviour of companion animal (cat and dog) owners during breed selection
  • Impacts of breed traits on the behaviour and welfare of companion animals
  • Impacts of aging on companion animals and the human-animal bond.

Dr George Littlejohn: Development of genetically encoded biosensors for use in the plant pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae – supervisor

Dr Michael Thom: Invertebrate behaviour in relation to mating or personality
  • Sexual selection in the wild
  • How does spatial distribution influence male behaviour and mating success?

Dr Ben Brilot: The welfare value of exploration behaviour/motivation and behavioural measures of welfare – supevisor

Dr Anne Plessis: Improving physiological models of cereal response to limited water availability under field conditions

  • Understand the regulation of stomatal aperture and stress metabolite accumulation under drought conditions in complex field conditions for wheat and barley
  • Evaluate the role of stomatal behaviour in coordinating photosynthesis and abiotic stress acclimation in cereals and subsequent links to plant growth and yield.

Dr Mick Hanley: Topics in Community Ecology

  • Use of plant functional trait groupings to predict response to climate change
  • Susceptibility of coastal vegetation to sea water flooding
  • Geographical variation in seedling-herbivore interactions
  • Pollinator response to arable land-use changes
  • See www.hanleylab.com for further details and other ideas.


If you are considering applying to study with us please do contact a member of academic staff to discuss and agree the specifics of your research to agree with the supervisor before an application to study is made.

Biological sciences research

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 three Research institutes (Cognition Institute, Marine Institute and Sustainable Earth Institute), 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.

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