Postgraduate research 

Virology PhD/iPhD/MD/MSc (Research)


Virology research is carried out in the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research. Our expertise ranges from molecular virology to in vivo pathogenesis, virus–cell interaction, viral immunology, viral ecology, clinical virology, virus epidemiology, mathematical modelling and bioinformatics.

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

Research projects

IPhD self-funded projects (November-April)

Our Integrated PhD combines an MSc and PhD project in a 1+3+1 format.
You can select from the below projects and indentify your chosen MSc from the options listed on the project.

Please note that you can apply for the below PhD projects outwith the IPhD route.


Barriers to influenza virus cross-species transmission

SupervisorMassimo Palmarini

MSc choiceInfection Biology (with specialisms) [MSc]

Project outline: Influenza A viruses (IAV) are the cause of a major global health burden in humans and animals. Wild aquatic birds are the main natural reservoir of IAV and are a source of infection for domestic birds, and other species. Spillover of avian IAV into humans results in severe or even lethal disease. These spillover events are typically not followed by extensive human-to-human transmission chains, but they are a risk to global health as they could enable the first step towards human adaptation and the generation of pandemic IAV strains. Multiple barriers have been identified that hamper avian IAV transmission and adaptation in humans including an interferon stimulated gene, BTN3A3, that we recently identified (doi: 10.1038/s41586-023-06261-8). However, several gaps remain in our understanding of how certain avian IAV subtypes/lineages are able to cross the species-barrier and spill over in humans or other mammals. Our laboratory aims to investigate the mechanisms that allow certain avian viruses to spillover into humans using a mixture of virological and evolutionary approaches. Understanding what makes emerging viruses succeed or fail to spillover, and possibly thrive, in human populations are crucial to understand how we manage viral emergence.



Cryogenic correlated light and electron tomography of virally infected cells

SupervisorStephen Carter

MSc choiceInfection Biology (with specialisms) [MSc]

Outline and techniques used: We use cryo-CLEM/cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) to study the complex relationships between viruses and the host cell during infection.

Our lab has access to the Scottish Centre for Macromolecular Imagining (SCMI) where we use cutting-edge instrumentation, such as the JEOL CRYO ARM 300 electron microscope and the Leica THUNDER Imager EM cryo-CLEM microscope. This technology allows us to target events that happen deep in the cell so we can see more of the context of virions, including their interactions with cellular organelles.

Ultimately, we want to capture the entire virus life cycle, from assembly of its pieces to maturation (with dramatic internal structural changes), to budding, to fusion with a target cell, and then through more transformations as the viral genome passages into the cell’s cytoplasm, all while hijacking the host cell machinery. We work with a range of viruses, including Rift Valley Fever Virus, Bunyamwera virus (BUNV) and herpes simplex virus (HSV).

Project aims: Developing in situ imaging techniques to image virus infection at high-resolution using cryo-ET. The creation of viral variants that contain and/or can create unnatural amino acids in their own viral proteins and imaging BUNV replication factories using cryogenic focused ion beam (FIB) milling.


  1. Haney et al. Coinfection by influenza A virus and respiratory syncytial virus produces hybrid virus particles. Nature Microbiology, 2022.
  2. Carter, S.D., et al. Sci Adv, 2020. 6(14): p. eaay9572.



Understanding virus-virus interactions: from cells to populations

SupervisorPablo Murcia

MSc choiceInfection Biology (with specialisms) [MSc]

Background and aims: Respiratory viral infections, including seasonal epidemics and pandemics, cause a major disease burden. Multiple viruses can cause respiratory infections, including influenza viruses, coronaviruses, respiratory syncytial virus, rhinoviruses, human metapneumovirus and parainfluenza viruses, to name but a few. Historically, respiratory viruses have been studied in isolation using a one-virus–one-disease approach. Our laboratory carries out a broad research programme that studies the biology of respiratory viruses using a multi-virus and multi-scale approach (i.e. from cells to populations). In published studies, we combined epidemiological and modelling approaches to reveal the existence of positive and negative interactions between respiratory viruses at the epidemiological scale (1). Using experimental approaches, we showed that interferon responses mediate negative interactions in the human respiratory tract (2, 3). At the cellular level, we were the first to show that virus coinfections can generate infectious hybrid particles (4). Our overarching aim is to determine the processes that drive interactions among respiratory viruses at the population, within-host, and cellular levels.

Techniques to be used: Our group offers a truly multidisciplinary research environment. PhD projects align with the group's overarching research aim and are designed around the students' training needs. Wet lab projects include cell culture, classical virology, immunostaining, microscopy, and imaging (2-4) as well as serological assays (5, 6). Dry projects combine epidemiology (7, 8), evolutionary biology, bioinformatics (9) and modelling (1, 10).


  1. S. Nickbakhsh et al., Virus-virus interactions impact the population dynamics of influenza and the common cold. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 116, 27142-27150 (2019).
  2. K. Dee et al., Human Rhinovirus Infection Blocks Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Replication Within the Respiratory Epithelium: Implications for COVID-19 Epidemiology. J Infect Dis 224, 31-38 (2021).
  3. K. Dee et al., Influenza A and Respiratory Syncytial Virus Trigger a Cellular Response That Blocks Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Virus 2 Infection in the Respiratory Tract. J Infect Dis 227, 1396-1406 (2023).
  4. J. Haney et al., Coinfection by influenza A virus and respiratory syncytial virus produces hybrid virus particles. Nat Microbiol 7, 1879-1890 (2022).
  5. E. C. Hughes et al., Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Serosurveillance in a Patient Population Reveals Differences in Virus Exposure and Antibody-Mediated Immunity According to Host Demography and Healthcare Setting. J Infect Dis 223, 971-980 (2021).
  6. M. Manali et al., SARS-CoV-2 Evolution and Patient Immunological History Shape the Breadth and Potency of Antibody-Mediated Immunity. J Infect Dis 227, 40-49 (2022).
  7. S. Nickbakhsh et al., Extensive multiplex PCR diagnostics reveal new insights into the epidemiology of viral respiratory infections. Epidemiol Infect 144, 2064-2076 (2016).
  8. S. Nickbakhsh et al., Epidemiology of Seasonal Coronaviruses: Establishing the Context for the Emergence of Coronavirus Disease 2019. J Infect Dis 222, 17-25 (2020).
  9. F. Thorburn et al., The use of next generation sequencing in the diagnosis and typing of respiratory infections. J Clin Virol 69, 96-100 (2015).
  10. C. Mair et al., Estimation of temporal covariances in pathogen dynamics using Bayesian multivariate autoregressive models. PLoS Comput Biol 15, e1007492 (2019).



The MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR) sits within the School of Infection and Immunity. The CVR is the largest virology-focussed research centre in the UK and brings together a critical mass of researchers studying human and animal viruses and viral diseases.

The CVR provides excellent facilities and opportunities for cross-disciplinary projects and the delivery of a comprehensive programme of training in contemporary, multi-disciplinary, virology research. The Centre includes research programmes in arboviruses, Epstein Barr virus, feline calicivirus, herpes viruses, hepatitis C virus, influenza, retroviruses and papillomaviruses.

 Cross cutting research themes and expertise include:

  • antiviral immunity
  • virus discovery
  • viral bioinformatics, mathematical modelling and genomics to guide new approaches to the understanding and management of viral infections
  • structural biology/cryo-electron microscopy and viral evolutionary dynamics
  • molecular virology to in vivo pathogenesis
  • virus-cell interactions
  • viral immunology
  • viral ecology
  • viral oncology
  • clinical and veterinary virology
  • viral diagnostics 
  • virus epidemiology

Our excellent facilities underpin a bench to bedside approach that will equip you with training complementary to a range of career options, and you can tailor your study pathway to the precise aspects of infection and immunology that suit your objectives. Through their research interests in drug development, vaccines and diagnostics, many of our project supervisors have strong links with industry.

Study options


  • 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)

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 your pre-selected PhD research project. If not, you will have the options to pay outstanding MSc fees and complete with 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

MD (Doctor of Medicine)

  • Duration: 2 years full-time; 4 years part-time (for medically-qualified graduates only)

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 subtests 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
  • IELTS One Skill Retake accepted.

Common equivalent English language qualifications accepted for entry to this programme:

TOEFL (ibt, my best or athome)

  • 79; with Reading 13; Listening 12; Speaking 18;Writing 21
  • Tests must have been taken within 2 years 5 months of start date. Applicants must meet the overall and subtest requirements , this includes TOEFL mybest.

Pearsons PTE Academic

  • 59 with minimum 59 in all subtests
  • 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.

Cambridge Proficiency in English (CPE) and Cambridge Advanced English (CAE)

  • 176 overall, no subtest less than 169
  • 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.

Oxford English Test

  • Oxford ELLT 7
  • R&L: OIDI level no less than 6 with Reading: 21-24 Listening: 15-17
  • W&S: OIDI level no less than 6

Trinity College Tests

Integrated Skills in English II & III & IV: ISEII Distinction with Distinction in all sub-tests.

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 complete 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 UKVI approved Secure English Language Tests (SELT) but we do not require a specific UKVI SELT 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: £4,786
  • International & EU: £30,240

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.


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


The College of Medical, Veterinary and 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

Research environment

If you study with us, you will join a large community of postgraduate taught and research students. Our School brings together basic, applied, clinical and translational researchers to study infection with a focus on the viral, parasitic and bacterial pathogens of both humans and animals, and immunology and inflammation with a focus on chronic inflammatory diseases.

Despite the continual development of new therapies, antibiotics and vaccines, chronic inflammatory and infectious diseases still pose persistent health threats. We aim to:

  • understand the basic science of the immune systems and how the immune system can inturn affect disease outcome understand the biology of parasites, viruse and bacteria and the interactions with their hosts, that in turn leads to high levels of infectious diseases worldwide
  • develop therapies (drugs and vaccines) targeted on these processes
  • explore new treatments and strategies in clinical and translational medicine

Research centres

We offer a wide range of cutting-edge research facilities, including core facilities in fluorescence activated cell sorting analysis, histology and state-of-the-art imaging. In addition, we offer the IVIS imaging system, high content screening microscopy, mass spectrometry, an X-ray capable FX Pro bioluminescence imaging system and a protein purification service. Also available are a wide range of molecular, immunological and biochemical analysis tools.

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 choose from a list of IPhD projects. Each project has named supervisors.

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 College of MVLS Postgraduate Research Cover Letter

Notes for iPhD applicants

  • add 'I wish to study the MSc in (select MSc from IPhD project choices) as the masters taught component of the IPhD' in the research proposal box
  • For supervisor name, please ensure you write the named supervisors from your chosen IPhD project.
Apply now

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: