Postgraduate research 

Evolutionary Analysis PhD/iPhD/MSc (Research)

taking a sample of river water

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We address a broad range of fundamental and applied evolutionary problems via the identification and analysis of genetic and phenotypic variability underlying biodiversity at all taxonomic levels, from viruses to vertebrates.

  • PhD: 3-4 years full-time; 5 years part-time;
  • MSc (Research): 1 year full-time; 2 years part-time;
  • IPhD: 5 years full-time;

Unfortunately our Application and Applicant Self Service systems are currently unavailable. We will post updates on the availability of these systems as soon as possible on our Enquiry and Programme pages. We can assure you that no applicant will be disadvantaged in respect to deadlines as a result of these systems issues.

Research projects

Open to applications all year round

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Evolution of ecological and species diversity in freshwater fishes

Supervisors: Kathryn.Elmer@glasgow.ac.ukArne.Jacobs@glasgow.ac.ukColin.Adams@glasgow.ac.uk

Project description

Ecological, morphological and evolutionary diversification among sympatric individuals often reflects divergent selective pressures along environmental gradients. In many lineages, these have repeatedly produced a range of specialist phenotypes within populations, despite non-existent or incomplete reproductive isolation.

A renowned example for such adaptive divergence in nature are the radiations and replicate evolution of postglacial fishes. Across many species, populations expanded into new ecological and geographic areas, which opened with warming climate and retreating glaciers. Within-lake divergences in freshwater fishes typically specialise along a lake depth gradient and a concordant suite of environmental selection pressures.

In some lineages these divergences have promoted high rates of sympatric and allopatric speciation and consequently elevated regional organismal biodiversity, such as in trout, whitefish, and charr. Our recent work has shown that the demographic and evolutionary histories of these populations can be highly variable and yet the functional expression and ultimate ecomorphological outcomes significantly parallel.

As a next step, it is vital to dig more deeply into the molecular mechanisms driving these patterns. This project will examine replicate divergences into specialist ecotypes and seek to identify their associated and underlying genetics. Specifically, it will examine parallel evolution of genomic divergence, gene expression levels, and alternative splice variants to query and evaluate topical questions in the parallel/convergent basis of complex phenotypes.

This project will build on existing datasets and with opportunity for new experiments. The ideal candidate will have some familiarity with bioinformatics and a degree in evolutionary biology or related discipline.

References

  1. Elmer KR (2016) Genomic tools for new insights to variation, adaptation, and evolution in the salmonid fishes: a perspective for charr. Hydrobiologia, 783, 191–208.
  2. Jacobs A, Elmer KR (2021) Alternative splicing and gene expression play contrasting roles in the parallel phenotypic evolution of a salmonid fish. Molecular Ecology, 30 (20), 4955–4969, https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.15817.
  3. Jacobs A, Carruthers M, Yurchenko A, Gordeeva NV, Alekseyev SS, Hooker O, Leong JS, Minkley DR, Rondeau EB, Koop BF, Adams CE, Elmer KR (2020) Parallelism in eco-morphology and gene expression despite variable evolutionary and genomic backgrounds in a Holarctic fish. PLOS

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Overview

Within evolutionary analysis, our specific areas of interest include the basis of adaptation to changing biotic and abiotic environments, the process and underlying mechanisms of speciation, the role of mating systems, host-parasite interactions, and the linkage among ecological and evolutionary processes. Frequently, this work requires the integration of genetic information with other types of data (e.g. phenotypic, geographic, demographic); developing novel bioinformatic tools and approaches to achieve this integration therefore represents another research focus.
 
Due to evolutionary principles being fundamental to all aspects of biology, our research activities are naturally linked with those of other research themes within the institute and throughout the College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences, with particular ties to the Glasgow Polyomics Facility, the Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment (SCENE), and the Centre for Virus Research.

Individual research projects are tailored around the expertise of principal investigators within the institutes. A variety of approaches are used, including ecology, epidemiology, mathematical, computational and statistical modelling, bioinformatics, parasitology, immunology and polyomics (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics). Basic and applied science projects are available for study, as are field-based projects with research programs underway in both the UK and overseas.

Specific areas of interest include:

  • host/parasite interactions and coevolution
  • evolutionary arms races between parasitic trypanosomes and their hosts
  • molecular ecology and evolution in infectious diseases of wild and domestic animals
  • behavioural ecology of fish
  • influence of genomic, ecological and environmental factors on emergence of new species
  • viral and bacterial population genomics
  • antimicrobial and anthelminthic resistance
  • evolution of viviparity in animals
  • physiology and behavioural ecology of marine and freshwater fishes
  • physiology and behavioural ecology of birds in urban and rural environments
  • evolutionary implications of daily rhythms, life-cycle timing and seasonal movements
  • phylodynamics of multi-host pathogens
  • life-history evolution, resource allocation, sexual selection and community ecology
  • evolution of resistance
  • evolutionary and conservation genetics
  • evolutionary developmental biology
  • gene family evolution, polyploidy, and mating systems
  • interaction between parasites, African trypanosomes and their hosts
  • organism response to their environment, both natural and captivity
  • attack and Escape Strategies in Aquatic Predator-Prey Interactions
  • phyloinformatics, biodiversity informatics, biological data visualisation
  • genetic and developmental basis of craniofacial shape in fish
  • role of divergent natural selection for determining phenotypes
  • phenotypic plasticity
  • mathematical, computational and statistical analysis of biological datasets, particularly those of pathogens and vaccines
  • ecological genomics and adaptive divergence in animals and plants

Study options

PhD

  • Duration: 3/4 years full-time; 5 years part-time

Individual research projects are tailored around the expertise of principal investigators.

Integrated PhD programmes (5 years)

Applications for September 2022 intake are now closed. Applications will reopen in October 2022.

Our Integrated PhD allows you to combine masters level teaching with your chosen research direction in a 1+3+1 format. 

International students with MSc and PhD scholarships/funding do not have to apply for 2 visas or exit and re-enter the country between programmes. International and UK/EU students may apply.

Year 1

Taught masters level modules are taken alongside students on our masters programmes. Our research-led teaching supports you to fine tune your research ideas and discuss these with potential PhD supervisors. You will gain a valuable introduction to academic topics, research methods, laboratory skills and the critical evaluation of research data. Your grades must meet our requirements in order to gain entry on to a PhD research programme. If not, you will receive the masters degree only.

Years 2, 3 and 4

PhD programme with research/lab work, completing an examinable piece of independent research in year 4.

Year 5

Thesis write up.

MSc (Research)

  • Duration: 1 year full-time; 2 years part-time

Entry requirements

A 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent.

English language requirements

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)

  • 6.5 with no sub-test under 6.0. 
  • Tests must have been taken within 2 years 5 months of start date. Applicants must meet the overall and subtest requirements using a single test.

Common equivalent English language qualifications

All stated English tests are acceptable for admission to this programme:

TOEFL (ib, my best or athome)

  • 90 with minimum R 20, L 19, S 19, W 23. 
  • Tests must have been taken within 2 years 5 months of start date. Applicants must meet the overall and subtest requirements using a single test, this includes TOEFL mybest.

PTE (Academic)

  • 60 with minimum 59 in all sub-tests.
  • Tests must have been taken within 2 years 5 months of start date. Applicants must meet the overall and subtest requirements using a single test.

Glasgow International College English Language (and other foundation providers)

  • 65%.
  • Tests are accepted for academic year following sitting.

University of Glasgow Pre-sessional courses

  • Tests are accepted for 2 years following date of successful completion.

Alternatives to English Language qualification

  • Degree from majority-English speaking country (as defined by the UKVI including Canada if taught in English).
  • Students must have studied for a minimum of 2 years at Undergraduate level, or 9 months at Master’s level, and must have completed their degree in that majority-English speaking country and within the last 6 years.
  • Undergraduate 2+2 degree from majority-English speaking country (as defined by the UKVI including Canada if taught in English).
  • Students must have completed their final two years study in that majority-English speaking country and within the last 6 years.

For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use these tests to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level programmes. The University is also able to accept an IELTS test (Academic module) from any of the 1000 IELTS test centres from around the world and we do not require a specific UKVI IELTS test for degree level programmes. We therefore still accept any of the English tests listed for admission to this programme.

Pre-sessional courses

The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the English for Academic Study Unit Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:

Fees and funding

Fees

2023/24

  • UK: To be confirmed by UKRI [22/23 fee was £4596]
  • International & EU: £27,930

Prices are based on the annual fee for full-time study. Fees for part-time study are half the full-time fee.

Irish nationals who are living in the Common Travel Area of the UK, EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status, and Internationals with Indefinite Leave to remain status can also qualify for home fee status.

Alumni discount

We offer a 20% discount to our alumni on all Postgraduate Research and full Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes. This includes University of Glasgow graduates and those who have completed Junior Year Abroad, Exchange programme or International Summer School with us. The discount is applied at registration for students who are not in receipt of another discount or scholarship funded by the University. No additional application is required.

Possible additional fees

  • Re-submission by a research student £540
  • Submission for a higher degree by published work £1,355
  • Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed £350
  • Submission by staff in receipt of staff scholarship £790

Depending on the nature of the research project, some students will be expected to pay a bench fee (also known as research support costs) to cover additional costs. The exact amount will be provided in the offer letter.

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2022/23 fees

  • UK: £4,596
  • International & EU: £23,950

Possible additional fees

  • Re-submission by a research student £540
  • Submission for a higher degree by published work £1,355
  • Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed £350
  • Submission by staff in receipt of staff scholarship £790

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Funding

The iPhD  is not supported by University of Glasgow Scholarship/Funding

Support

Resources

We have excellent facilities for lab, field and farm-based research.  This includes aquaria, aviaries, insectaries and labs for conducting analyses in:

  • bioinformatics
  • cellular physiology
  • developmental biology
  • evolutionary biology
  • endocrinology
  • molecular ecology
  • physiological ecology

We also have:

  • a state of the art field research centre on Loch Lomond (SCENE)
  • a university farm (Cochno) and research centre North of Glasgow
  • excellent computing facilities
  • a vibrant and supportive community of researchers
  • access to additional specialist facilities through our wide network of collaborators in NGOs, communities, government agencies and research institutes worldwide.

Graduate School

The College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences Graduate School provides a vibrant, supportive and stimulating environment for all our postgraduate students. We aim to provide excellent support for our postgraduates through dedicated postgraduate convenors, highly trained supervisors and pastoral support for each student.
 
Our overarching aim is to provide a research training environment that includes:

  • provision of excellent facilities and cutting edge techniques
  • training in essential research and generic skills
  • excellence in supervision and mentoring
  • interactive discussion groups and seminars
  • an atmosphere that fosters critical cultural policy and research analysis
  • synergy between research groups and areas
  • extensive multidisciplinary and collaborative research
  • extensive external collaborations both within and beyond the UK 
  • a robust generic skills programme including opportunities in social and commercial training

Our excellent facilities and dedicated staff will equip you with training complementary to a range of career options, and you can tailor your study pathway to the precise aspects that suit your objectives. 

How to apply

Identify potential supervisors

All Postgraduate Research Students are allocated a supervisor* who will act as the main source of academic support and research mentoring. You may want to identify a potential supervisor and contact them to discuss your research proposal before you apply. Please note, even if you have spoken to an academic staff member about your proposal you still need to submit an online application form.

You can find relevant academic staff members with our staff research interests search.

*iPhD applicants do not need to contact a supervisor, as you will start your programme by choosing a masters from our Taught degree programmes A-Z [do not apply directly to a masters].

Gather your documents

Before applying please make sure you gather the following supporting documentation:

  1. Final or current degree transcripts including grades (and an official translation, if needed) – scanned copy in colour of the original document.
  2. Degree certificates (and an official translation, if needed): scanned copy in colour of the original document
  3. Two references on headed paper and signed by the referee. One must be academic, the other can be academic or professional [except iPhD applicants, where only one academic or professional reference is required]. References may be uploaded as part of the application form or you may enter your referees contact details on the application form. We will then email your referee and notify you when we receive the reference.  We can also accept confidential references direct to rio-researchadmissions@glasgow.ac.uk, from the referee’s university or business email account.
  4. Research proposal, CV, samples of written work as per requirements for each subject area. iPhD applicants do not need to submit any of these as you will start your programme by choosing a masters.

Notes for iPhD applicants

  • add 'I wish to study the MSc in (chosen subject) as the masters taught component of the iPhD' in the research proposal box
  • write 'n/a' for the supervisor name

Unfortunately our Application and Applicant Self Service systems are currently unavailable. We will post updates on the availability of these systems as soon as possible on our Enquiry and Programme pages. We can assure you that no applicant will be disadvantaged in respect to deadlines as a result of these systems issues.

Contact us

Before you apply

PhD/MSc/MD: email mvls-gradschool@glasgow.ac.uk

iPhD: email mvls-iphd@glasgow.ac.uk

After you have submitted your application

PhD/MSc/MD/iPhD: contact our Admissions team

Any references may be submitted by email to: rio-researchadmissions@glasgow.ac.uk