Doing a PhD in Biotechnology

The general aim of a PhD in Biotechnology is to train top-level researchers in various areas of Biotechnology with a solid theoretical and methodological background, with a balance between basic and applied research that will enable them to tackle innovation problems in a multidisciplinary manner, with special emphasis on the bases and applications of biotechnology, so that graduates can work in industrial sectors, biotechnology companies, service companies, in the area of health, in public or private research centres, or as academics in universities.

What does a PhD in Biotech Involve?

The aim of a university PhD programme in Biotechnology is to prepare you to start and complete theoretical, methodological and research training in the multidisciplinary field of biotechnology, which takes the form of the preparation and defence of an innovative doctoral thesis.

Examples of topics you could investigate as part of your PhD research project include:

  • Biomedicine: a field of study that focuses on understanding the cellular and molecular biology processes and their applications. It focuses on finding cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, etc.
  • Plant biotechnology: area of study oriented towards fundamental and applied research in plant physiology and cell biology, functional genomics and plant-pathogen interaction.
  • Bioinformatics: related to programming and data analysis in health issues and nanotechnology and computational modelling of biological systems. Research in nanoparticle biogenesis, microscopy, bioprocess engineering, systems biology and molecular modelling.
  • Aquaculture biotechnology: a combination of science and practical skill in fish farming. The primary objective is to generate knowledge that can increase the productivity of aquaculture.
  • Microbial biotechnology: focuses on both fundamental and applied research into the functioning of biological systems such as bacteria, viruses and yeasts for the generation of value-added products such as nanoparticles, proteins, biopolymers and probiotics.

A doctorate training programme in biotechnology aims to train PhD students to:

  • Independently, with capacities, knowledge and skills to identify opportunities, develop and direct relevant research projects to develop biotechnological.
  • Recognised for their ability to create knowledge and provide technological solutions in biotechnology for research centres, productive, educational and social sectors.
  • Capable of linking up with the private sector so that the research is translated into improved technologies, processes and products that drive a country’s development.
  • Ability to create, disseminate and ethically impart knowledge with a strong sense of responsibility and social duty.

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How long does it take to get a PhD in Biotechnology?

A Biotechnology PhD in the UK commonly takes between three and four years to complete if studying full-time, including a year for writing up your thesis, and between five and seven years if studying part-time or as distance learning.

What are the typical application requirements for a Biotech PhD?

The entry profile of a PhD candidate for a Biotechnology degree is a prospective student with an undergraduate degree, typically a 2:1 Master’s degree, in a field related to Biotechnology, Microbiology, Biochemistry, Food Science and Technology, Veterinary Medicine, Chemistry and Engineering. A background in biology is particularly favourable.

In addition to this, candidates will be expected to have:

  • Excellent academic background and have a vocation for a graduate research area in one of the fields of knowledge promoted by the doctoral programme.
  • Good written and oral communication skills in English.
  • If you’re an international student, you must meet the university’s minimum English language requirement. This will typically be through an IELTS (Academic) or TOEFL examination.

How much does a PhD in Biotechnology cost?

Annual fees will depend on whether you’re a home or international student and the specific university you study within. However, annual tuition fees typically range between £4,407 – £15,607 for full-time study, and £2,203 – £7,803 for part-time study.

Career in Biotechnology for PhD Holders

PhD in Biotechnology salary

Not everyone knows there are many career options available with an advanced degree in biotechnology, especially at a doctorate level. As such, biotechnology graduates do not strictly need to pursue a career as a scientist at a medical company.

Those who possess a higher education doctorate in biotechnology will be capable of working in the academic, scientific and industrial fields, both in the application and generation of knowledge. Research degree holders will have excellent communication skills and the capacity for critical analysis and scientific reasoning, which allows them to formulate complex problems and propose innovative solutions to them, leading groups of applied research in laboratories of public and/or private institutions.

Because of this, biotech PhD postgraduates can take up an opportunity from a range of industries, including:

  • Quality Assurance and Control
  • Manufacturing industry
  • Clinical research
  • Government policymaking
  • Research & Development
  • Software engineering
  • Chemistry, biological science, and agriculture
  • Business and Project management
  • Biomedical science and Engineering

As well as undertaking a range of positions, biotech PhD holders can also work in a range of environments such as for government agencies, private companies, regulatory bodies, or clinical laboratories. People in biotech jobs range from small start-ups to big pharma companies to national departments such as UKRI.

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