PhD Biological Sciences

The Institute offers numerous research opportunities in many areas of biological, environmental and rural sciences.

The Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) is a world class research and education centre at Aberystwyth University. IBERS is an internationally recognised centre of excellence and students' choice for the study of biological, environmental and rural sciences.

IBERS is a new venture that has brought together staff from the Institutes of Rural Sciences and Biological Sciences at Aberystwyth University, and  the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER). Around 300 research, teaching and support staff conduct basic, strategic and applied  research in biology from the level of genes and other molecules to the impact of climate change and bio-energy on sustainable agriculture and land use. They also provide high level research and skills training. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework assessment, IBERS was placed in the top 10 universities in the UK for research intensity. There is formal collaboration with the College of Natural Sciences in Bangor University.

By linking the processes and results of our scientific investigations to the work of social scientists in Aberystwyth and Bangor we are able to inform policy on the rural economy and on rural communities.

Key Facts

Major Funders & Links with Industry

Topics for Research Degrees

Topics for research degrees can be selected from any of the areas of research within the Institute, of which a small selection is shown below.

  • Animal Science and Production (with special emphasis on sheep, beef and dairy cattle)
  • Equine Science (with special emphasis on behaviour, nutrition and reproduction)
  • Crop, Science and Production (including arable, grassland and forage crops)
  • Ecology
  • Rural Business Management and Economics
  • Rural, Environmental and Agricultural Policy (relevant to developed or developing countries)
  • Regional and Rural Economics
  • Environmental Economics and Valuation
  • Rural Resource and Countryside Management
  • Rural Tourism and Recreation
  • Organic Agriculture
  • Landscape Systems and Policy
  • Crop Genetics, Genomics and Breeding
  • Bio-renewables and Environmental Change
  • Evolution, Co-evolution and Adaptation
  • Animal and Microbial Sciences

Please visit our School's Research & Enterprise page for information regarding our staff, areas of interest, facilities and other information.


Postgraduate students are assigned a supervisory team that have overall responsibility for their day-to-day welfare and provide guidance for research activities. In particular, the supervisory team includes a dedicated Assessor who provides additional support and has a role in providing an objective opinion on research progress to the Faculty and the Board of Postgraduate Studies as required by the University-wide integrated Postgraduate Monitoring Scheme. Although successful postgraduate research depends on the effort and application of the individual student, the researcher also needs a wide range of skills and access to specialist techniques and databases. Research is a collaborative exercise and postgraduate students typically interact with other academic staff and postgraduates in other fields. Indeed, students are encouraged to take an interest in the full breadth of research at the Institute, to join scientific societies relevant to their research interests and to participate in national and international meetings.

Our Staff

The majority of teaching staff at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences are qualified to PhD level and are research active. Vocational courses also have staff whose background lies within industry.  The Institute has a large number of research only staff with whom students may have contact.


Formal training is given to all postgraduates in Aberystwyth. In addition, modules are made available within IBERS that are designed to maximise research experience and to develop transferable, professional and interpersonal skills. These modules help students improve competence in written, oral and visual communication skills, as well as help develop a broader understanding of the spectrum of skills required to be truly effective as a researcher, including experimental design and data analysis. These modules are designed to meet the training requirements of the UK Research Councils and other funding bodies.

Where specialist skills are required, or where there is a need for additional formal studies in a particular area, further training may involve attending selected undergraduate or postgraduate courses within the Institute or training courses at other institutions. In addition, the Institute runs an extensive seminar programme in which students are expected to participate.

Formal induction in research methodology includes: information usage and retrieval, personal computers for presentation skills, careers awareness, conduct of meetings, interviewing techniques and oral presentations. This module is taught through lectures, videos, seminars and group exercises.

How to Apply

Entry Requirements
The normal entry requirement for the three-year PhD research programme is a good honours degree or its equivalent in a subject relevant to the intended area of research. An honours degree in a suitable subject is also the normal requirement for entry into the two-year scheme leading to the MPhil degree. Applications are also welcomed from mature students and from non-graduates with appropriate experience that satisfy the University’s entry requirements.
Apply online for a research course in IBERS

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