Bristol BRC PhD opportunities now open

  • 20 February 2023

University students at computers in a library

The NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre (Bristol BRC) is offering four places on a prestigious four-year PhD programme at the University of Bristol.

We have projects available across four of our five research themes, with many projects including cross-theme collaboration. Our programme follows a 1+3 year structure, with the first year giving you a solid training foundation for your three-year PhD project.

Our world-leading researchers have diverse skills and work together on exciting interdisciplinary research projects. We particularly focus on developing interventions to improve the health of patients and the public, using detailed genetic and molecular data, and analysing large-scale datasets from records collected during routine NHS care. Our PhD programme and training environment aims to provide you with the necessary skills to succeed in this field.

Places are available for students from a wide range of scientific backgrounds. We welcome applications from all sections of the community.

If you would like to discuss any accessibility requirements for the recruitment process or the role, please contact Hazel Phillips on

Key dates

Applications are invited for four studentships starting in October 2023.

The deadline for applications is 11:59 GMT, Friday 24 March 2023.

What we offer

  • A stipend at UKRI rates for four years, PhD registration fees at UK rates and funds for research expenses and travel
  • A rich multi-disciplinary environment giving you the opportunity to develop a wealth of new skills and knowledge in translational research
  • Diverse training and experience from the first year, ensuring a solid foundation for your main three-year project
  • Expert academic supervision from at least two supervisors and a rich collegiate atmosphere providing a wealth of academic support
  • Access to research facilities, including excellent high-performance computing facilities, and data and tissue banks from cohort studies such as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) and Born in Bradford

Programme structure

Year 1

  • 1 or 2 short mini projects
  • Short courses

Your first year will give you the opportunity to work on one or two mini research projects (see indicative PhD mini project examples on the University of Bristol website) with different supervisors. These give you an excellent opportunity to explore different research areas and develop inter-disciplinary skills. The projects also often result in conference presentations or journal publications.

You will also be able to attend some of the School’s internationally recognised short courses to learn new skills in statistics and molecular and genetic epidemiology. In parallel with these you will be given training in key core skills including scientific writing, communication skills, patient and public involvement, research reproducibility and more.

Towards the end of your first year you will start work on your PhD project.

Years 2–4

  • Main PhD project

Your main PhD project will be the primary focus of the remainder of your studentship. By this stage you will have learnt many of the key skills required to begin your research, and will have a network of friends and colleagues who with whom you can share experience and advice.

You will work in a rich multi-disciplinary research environment with internationally important datasets and superb research facilities. Our students are highly successful in securing fellowships and postdoctoral jobs in research, with many choosing to continue their research within the University.

About us

All your studies will be at the University of Bristol, a leading UK research university. The university is near the centre of Bristol, a vibrant city in the South West of England.

The NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre at the University of Bristol offers an integrated approach to postgraduate education in a collaborative and multidisciplinary environment, encompassing:

  • Bristol Medical School
  • School of Experimental Psychology
  • School of Policy Studies
  • Links to NHS organisations in the region

We also have a strong collaboration with the Bradford Institute for Health Research, with opportunities for jointly supervised projects. See our about us page for more information.

How to apply

We require:

  • A completed University of Bristol application form. Please select ‘Population Health PhD’ for this programme. In the funding section of the application please check ‘Other’ and state ‘NIHR BRC funding’
  • A narrative CV (max two sides of A4) uploaded in the ‘Personal statement’ area of the application system, addressing the following points:
    • Two examples of your achievements in research related activities (for example undergraduate, masters or postgraduate work experience)
    • Two examples of your achievements in non-research related activities (for example outside of academic study)
    • What do you hope to gain from doing a PhD with us?
    • Please provide any additional relevant information to support your application (for example to tell us about alternative career paths or career breaks)
  • Two letters of reference
  • A copy of your degree certificates and transcripts

Please note the instructions on the programme website on how to apply supercede those within the school admissions statement. A standard CV and a research statement are NOT required.

We will assess your online application based on the following criteria:

  • Proven academic quality: normally evidenced by an excellent performance to first degree and/or Master’s level but may also be demonstrated by an equivalent, high quality provision of evidence related to professional practice
  • Research potential: evidenced through examples of achievement within academia/research related projects and outside of academia, evidencing relevant skills
  • Personal motivation and commitment: evidenced through supporting statement of understanding of the programme and enthusiasm, interest and commitment

If you are short-listed for interview, we will ask you to contact potential PhD supervisors and select your top three projects. You will be asked to give a presentation on your first choice project at interview and we will provide you with some guidance about this.

International students

We provide full funding for the tuition fee for UK students. Other international students would need to be able to demonstrate that they have alternative sources of funding to cover the overseas fees for four years. Visa costs and health surcharges need to be covered by the applicant.

Self-funded students

If you have already secured funding through a government scheme, employer or similar you can follow this four-year model providing you are well qualified. Please get in touch to discuss this further.

UKRI stipend scales

Information on stipend scales is available on the UKRI website.

Find out more

For queries about the application process please email

For informal enquiries about the programme, contact Professor Emma Clark on or Dr Leila Rooshenas on