Masters by Research or PhD Biological Sciences (Postgraduate)

close up of ants carrying a leaf

Study mode

Full-Time or Part-Time


Francis Close Hall, Cheltenham

Research areas

Ecology and environment

Biotic responses to climate change; impacts of non-native species; biogeography; environmental biology; conservation ecology. Recent research projects include: examining the potential positive impacts of non-native species; modelling the effects of climate change on bird distribution; investigating the prevalence of parasites in the Skomer Vole.

Biology of taxonomic group

Social insect behaviour and evolution; avian biology; equine biology.  Recent research projects include the thermal biology of leafcutting ants; the effect of worming treatments on horses; the incidence of puffinosis in seabirds.


Disease biology in birds and mammals; nematodes and parasites; microbial ecology.  Recent research projects include: the bacterial communities of penguin feathers; microbial populations in bird next boxes and their effect on breeding success; fungi in solitary bee nests.

Pedagogic research

Effective teaching and learning; use of new technologies in teaching; field work in biosciences; students as researchers. One member of the team is a National Teaching Fellow. Recent research projects include: the importance of field courses in pastoral care; the use of web-based video to prime students prior to field courses.

Citizen science and public engagement

The use of volunteer ‘citizen science’ data in ecology and zoology; the public understanding of science.  Recent research projects include: a nationwide flying ant survey to map distribution and timing; investigating the accuracy of the public in recording animal behaviour; modelling the use of rewards to improve volunteer data collection.

See also Research opportunities in Geography and Environmental Sciences, Countryside and Community.

All research students who have not already completed a relevant Master’s degree, or other appropriate postgraduate research methods training, are required to complete the Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods.

Entry requirements

  • An Honours degree of upper second class or above from a UK/EC university, or equivalent qualification, is normally required in a relevant subject area
  • In exceptional circumstances, we will consider applications from non-graduates with experience of undertaking research or graduates who wish to work in a new subject area
  • Initial registration is usually for MPhil or MRes or MA/MSc by Research with the possibility of transfer to PhD.  Candidates with a Master’s degree in a relevant subject that contains appropriate research methods training may register for a PhD directly.


See the further details of tuition fees when studying a course at the University of Gloucestershire.

Prof. Anne Goodenough

Staff Profile

Prof. Anne Goodenough

Professor of Applied Ecology; Academic Course Leader: MSc Applied Ecology

"I am Course Leader for MSc Applied Ecology, where I teach landscape ecology, ecological surveying and applied conservation. I also supervise posgraduate research projects, including PhDs in areas as diverse as surveying mammals, the role of citizen science in modern-day ecological research, plant biogeography and amphibian conservation. I am also a highly active researcher and publishes regularly in international peer-reviewed journals, as well as writing popular science articles and disseminating research at conferences. I involve postgraduate students in my research work wherever possible."


Develop your skills in research methods through dedicated modules

Research students who have not already completed a relevant Masters degree or other appropriate postgraduate research methods training will benefit from the university's research methods training modules: Philosophy and Approaches to Research and Methodologies and Methods.

Five specialist research areas

We have a particular research history in ecology and environment, biology of taxonomic groups, microbiology, pedagogic research and citizen science and public engagement.

Contact us

Find out more about our courses

Call +44 (0)3330 141414