Postgraduate research 

Life Sciences MSc (Research)

We offer MSc (Research) opportunities in the areas of sports & exercise science, cancer biology / cancer & inflammation, cell signalling, the genetics of cell cycle, the genetics of rare disorders and marine ecology.

  • MSc (Research): 1 year full-time; 2-3 years part-time;
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Research projects

MSc (Research) project areas


Sports and exercise science

Supervisors: Mr Nairn ScobieMs Victoria PenprazeDr Ole KemiProf Niall MacFarlane

Sports Performance:

These opportunities typically arise within professional sporting organisations and allow applicants to carry out research in an applied environment as well as gaining experience and learning the skills required to be a practitioner, often at an elite level. Typical studies have encompassed sports such as rugby, hockey and football.

Exercise Physiology:

The study of the physiology of exercise, training and physical work, including the study of the acute responses and chronic adaptations to a wide range of exercise conditions including under the influence of various environmental factors such as temperature, pressure and altitude. Typical studies may encompass investigations of the effectiveness of different training protocols, the potential advantages of ergogenic aids, control of exercise intensity, and the underlying physiologic responses to these interventions, and may be undertaken both in the laboratory and in the field.

Physical activity for Health:

The study of physical activity and/or sedentary behaviours in different sections of the population, e.g. children, school leavers, clinical groups. Typical studies can encompass investigations of how much physical activity and/or sedentary behaviour is carried out by the cohort of interest and may also include the effectiveness of different interventions designed to improve health-enhancing activity related behaviours. There are opportunities to conduct research in this area in a lab, field or applied setting.

Recent publications

  • White AD and MacFarlane NG. (2015) Contextual effects on activity profiles of domestic field hockey during competition and training. Hum Mov Sci. 40:422-31
  • Scobie,N. et al (2014) The comparison of coconut water, sports drink and plain water on rehydration and potential for endurance based performance. Journal of Sports Sciences, 32(Supp.2),s78-s86
  • Devlin J, et al. (2014) Blood lactate clearance after maximal exercise depends on active recovery intensity. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 54:271-8.



Cancer biology / Cancer and inflammation

Supervisors: Dr Joanna B Wilson

Research in our laboratory concerns the analysis of viral oncogenes:

  • how do they work to disturb the normal function of the cell?
  • how does this lead to an abnormal cell state?
  • how does this proceed to tumour formation?
  • how does the virus avoid immune eradication?

By understanding these issues, we can then go on to design possible therapeutic treatments. Our study revolves around a cancer associated virus called Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).  What we learn from the action of the viral oncogenes, tells us a great deal about the cancer process in general and about the normal action of cellular proteins that are disrupted by the virus.

A new area of study in our lab is focusing on chronic inflammation and the role it plays in the development of cancer and autoimmune diseases.

MSc research projects will explore the action and therapeutic targeting of a viral oncogene or an important cellular gene involved in the tumourigenic process, using a range of molecular, genetic and cellular approaches.

Recent publications

  • AlQarni, S. et al. (2018) Lymphomas driven by Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen-1 (EBNA1) are dependant upon Mdm2. Oncogene 10.1038/s41388-018-0147x
  • Wilson, J.B. et al. (2018) EBNA1: Oncogenic Activity, Immune Evasion and Biochemical Functions Provide Targets for Novel Therapeutic Strategies against Epstein-Barr Virus-Associated Cancers. Cancers 10, 109 doi:10.3390/cancers10040109
  • Gao, X. et al. (2017) N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) ameliorates Epstein-Barr virus latent membrane protein 1 induced chronic inflammation.PLoS-ONE 12 (12) e0189167 dpi:10.1371



Cell signalling

Supervisors: Dr Elaine Huston

We are particularly interested in the interaction of lysine methylation with key molecules in cell signalling pathways and the implications of this for novel cancer therapies. Lysine demethylases are integral to the regulation of histone and non-histone methylation and thus play an important part in the control of gene expression and stability.  Deregulation of these enzymes and the resultant modification of epigenetic landscapes has been implicated in the pathogenesis of a number of cancers including prostate cancer, colon cancer and acute myeloid leukaemia. 

More recently it has become increasingly clear that lysine methylation is important in the control of key signalling pathways implicated in cancer progression.  This indicates that drugs which target lysine methylation may offer promising novel therapeutics to these disease states. 

MSc research projects will investigate the roles that various signalling proteins and lysine demethylases play in the proliferation of cancer cells.  The interaction between lysine methylation, signalling molecules and resultant modulation of signalling pathways will be investigated to assess potential novel targets for cancer therapeutics.

Recent publications

  • Brown, K. M., et al (2013). Phosphodiesterase-8A binds to and regulates Raf-1 kinase. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 110: E1533-42.
  • McCahill, A.C. et al. (2008). PDE4 associates with different scaffolding proteins: modulating interactions as treatment for certain diseases. Handb Exp Pharmacol, 125-66.
  • Tanaka, M. et al (2017). Aggregation of scaffolding protein DISC1 dysregulates phosphodiesterase 4 in Huntington's disease. J Clin Invest, 127: 1438-1450.



The genetics of cell cycle

Supervisors: Dr Chris McInerny

We use the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe to study the cell cycle and basic cancer biology. We focus on cytokinesis and cell separation, and the role of anillin and ESCRT proteins in this process. Anillin proteins play a prominent function in controlling the deposition of the actin ring that predicts the site of cell separation, and ESCRT proteins control membrane formation and changes.

The MSc (Research) project will focus on the interactions of these two protein types and the role of this interaction in cytokinesis. This is of medical importance as the cell cycle and cytokinesis are disrupted in human cancers with, for example, anillin proteins known to be deregulated. The research will use a wide range of molecular techniques, working in both yeast and human cells to address this important area.

Recent publications

  • Bhutta M.S. et al. (2014) A complex network of interactions between mitotic kinases, phosphatases and ESCRT proteins regulates septation and membrane trafficking in S. pombePLoS ONE 9: e111789.
  • Bhutta M.S. et al. (2014) ESCRT function in cytokinesis: location, dynamics and regulation by mitotic kinases. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 15: 21723-21739. 



The genetics of rare disorders

Supervisors: Dr Mark E Bailey

Molecular therapies for rare genetic disorders

We investigate disorders of the brain and study the genetics of rare disorders, with a view to developing molecular therapeutic approaches (gene therapy, RNA-trans-splicing, genome editing).

We have completed a large amount of work on Rett syndrome, an X-linked dominant disorder that affects only girls.  And leaves them with severe dyspraxia, motor disabilities and possibly cognitive disabilities lifelong, as well as related health problems. It is caused in most cases by de novo mutations in MECP2, a gene that encodes a protein that participates in epigenetic regulation of genome function and gene expression. Other X-linked dominant disorders of the brain are also being studied ie. CDKL5 disorder and DDX3X disorder.

Our MSc (research) project will be in an area that contributes to these molecular therapy approaches to tackling such disorders.

Recent publications

  • Hector al. (2017) CDKL5 variants: improving our understanding of a rare neurological disorder. Neurology: Genetics 3: e200. doi: 10.1212/NXG.0000000000000200.
  • Gadalla K.K.E. et al. (2017) Development of a novel AAV gene therapy cassette with improved safety features and efficacy in a mouse model of Rett syndrome. Molecular Therapy: Methods and Clinical Development 5: 180-190. doi: 10.1016/j.omtm.2017.04.007.

Genetics of common human traits and disorders

Our lab investigates the genetics of common human complex traits and disorders, particularly those based on:

  • brain function
  • body composition and diabetes
  • physical performance
  • an ear/balance disorder called Ménière disease

We have access to the world-leading UK BioBank dataset and we do big data analysis of the relationships between phenotypes, the underlying genetics, and gene-gene and gene-environment interactions. We have recently made discoveries in the area of circadian rhythmicity and its relationship with depression and other mood disorders.

Our MSc (Research) project will be in an area that contributes to these genetic analysis investigations, and is appropriate for students who want a dry project with no experimental work, and which involves statistical analysis.

Recent publications:

  • Morrison G.A.J. et al (2009). Familial Ménière’s disease: clinical and genetic aspects. J. Laryngol. Otol. 123: 29-37. doi:10.1017/S0022215108002788
  • Ferguson A. et al (2018) Genome-wide association study of circadian rhythmicity in 71,500 UK Biobank participants and polygenic association with mood instability. EBioMedicine xx: 1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2018.08.004



Marine ecology

Our lab focuses on two areas of research:

  1. what controls the diversity and biomass of microalgae?
  2. how do microplastics and light affect marine bivalve populations?

Besides their potential to address longstanding ecological questions on the functioning of marine ecosystems, both questions have important implications for the biofuels and aquaculture industries respectfully.

To address these questions we conduct controlled experiments in the aquatic ecology lab, within the School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine and we also have connections with industrial partners for carrying out field work in their facilities. Depending on the research question, we analyse samples with a range of techniques available within the aquatic ecology lab or in collaboration with the metabolomics department of the University of Glasgow polyomics facility and labs carrying out genetic analyses within the School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine and the School of Molecular Biosciences.

Recent publications

  • Papanikolopoulou L. et al. (2018). Interplay between r- and K-strategists leads to phytoplankton underyielding when the resources are pulsed. Oecologia, 186: 755-764
  • Sakavara, A. et al (2018) Lumpy species coexistence arises robustly in fluctuating resource environments. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 115: 738-743.
  • Smeti, E. et al. (2016) Spatial averaging and disturbance lead to high productivity in aquatic metacommunities. Oikos, 125: 812-820. (doi:10.1111/oik.02684)



MSc (Research)

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

Depending upon training needs, a student may take approved credited taught courses throughout this period. Following the research period, students will write a thesis (under the supervision of the principle investigator), presenting data and analysis for the degree examination.

Study options

MSc (Research)

Duration: 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time [with the option to register for a further year to write up your thesis]

Taught courses may form part of the programme, tailored to individual student needs and topic requirements.

Specifying your research project area

In your application, please select your research project area and your project and supervisor in the 'research' section of the application form.

Entry requirements

Awarded or expected First-class or Second-class Honours BSc degree or equivalent in a relevant subject.

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



  • 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.


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



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


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

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.

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, 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.
  5. Completed the College of MVLS Postgraduate Research Cover Letter
Apply now

Our Application Form is temporarily unavailable due to essential maintenance. We apologise for any inconvenience and would like to reassure you that no applicant will be disadvantaged as a result of this.

Contact us

Before you apply

PhD/MSc/MD: email

iPhD: email

After you have submitted your application

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

Any references may be submitted by email to: