About the course
Research students are welcomed to Brunel as valued members of our thriving, research-intensive community. A research degree provides the opportunity to investigate a topic in depth, and contribute new knowledge to your discipline. A PhD involves demonstrating through original research or other advanced scholarship the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge at the forefront of an academic discipline or professional practice, the ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the general of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline. Both full-time (3 years) and part-time (6 years) study routes are available.
Research students are welcomed to Brunel as valued members of our thriving, research-intensive community. A research degree provides the opportunity to investigate a topic in depth, and contribute new knowledge to your discipline. An MPhil involves the exploration of a research topic and is typically studied over a shorter period of 1 year for a full-time student and 2 years for a part-time student. MPhil students are required to demonstrate a systematic understanding of knowledge and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights informed by the forefront of their discipline, field of study or professional practice.
The overall aim of the Synthetic Biology theme is to address major environmental, health and societal challenges by engineering biological systems such that they display functions that do not exist in nature, as well as re-designing existing biological systems so that they perform new functions. Our research focuses on three key areas of activity.
- Gene therapy: Some diseases and disorders happen because certain genes work incorrectly or no longer work at all. We are designing therapeutic interventions for human diseases and disorders by developing the technologies to correct defective genes. Our current projects within this area look at vector development for effective gene therapy, assessing and avoiding the risks of gene therapy (genotoxicity) and using the technologies of gene therapy to give new insights into cancer development.
- Microbial bioengineering: The most exploitable and engineerable organisms are bacteria, so we want to harness their capacity and diversity to create white technologies –those which cause no harm. Our research uses integrated genomics strategies to direct bacterial engineering for a number of translational applications. We look at possible ways to create novel bacteria –bacteria that can produce clean proteins, for example, or bacteria that can improve the performance of cement. Using bioengineered microbes, we look at ways to degrade environmental pollutants; generate products using alternatives to petrochemicals; and reuse waste biomaterials from biomass and biodiesel manufacture. There are even investigations within our theme into ways of addressing antibiotic resistance in medically important bacteria. We are exploring other areas, and are open to developing new lines of research that will make the best use of the strain and widely applicable tools for strain assessment and development, especially when they are directed at projects that have sustainability as part of what they seek to achieve.
- Computer sciences, statistics and maths: We are working on data analysis, bioinformatics, and system modelling to inform synthetic system 30 design and efficient laboratory engineering strategies. These outcomes will support our other strands of research.
We welcome all multidisciplinary topics in the area of Biomedical Engineering.
Find out more
We are collaborating closely with SynbiCITE, an industrial translation engine created to accelerate innovation and commercialization of synthetic biology. SynbiCITE matched Brunel University funding for a project designed to identify critical components for future design and construction of optimized strains of bacteria for a variety of industrial applications. This complements an additional award from SynbiCITE to establish platform resources to support future collaborative projects involving 19 universities, 25 SMEs, and 10 business corporations. The project focuses on the most useful 6-10 species of interest to the SynbiCITE partners. Strain collections and search-in libraries that will be developed in this programme include: three species of Bacillus; two species of Pseudomonas; and at least two species of Streptomyces. Our collaboration with Professor Christof von Kalle and Dr Manfred Schmidt at the Division of Oncology DKFZ, Heidelberg, Germany supports our safe vector insertion site (IS) research.
Access and use of the strain collections and CBG resources
We support and encourage the use of our strain collections wherever they can contribute to the development of other project, especially in the development of the sustainable bioeconomy, green and white technology, circular economy models, and bioremediation.
Excellent research support and training
Extensive training and support is offered to all research students by the Graduate School, with regular Masterclasses and individual advice on academic issues as part of the Researcher Development Programme. Read more about the available Research Support and Training.
Brunel's library is open 24 hours a day, has 400,000 books and 250,000 e-books, and an annual budget of almost £2m. Subject Information Specialists train students in the latest technology, digital literacy, and digital dissemination of scholarly outputs.
- state-of-the-art research information management tools including a research publication and grant database
- one of the largest UK’s full text repository
- an integrated data management system
- analytical tools such as Altmertic and InCites
- Open Access centrally managed fund
Facts and Figures
Brunel University London REF2014 Submission: Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences
The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The results of the REF2014 have been made public in December 2014, replacing the previous REF conducted in 2008. The next REF will be undertaken in 2020. Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 - A Guide for PhD Students
Teaching and Assessment
Supervisors with insight
Our supervisors create knowledge and advance understanding, and equip research students with the confidence to apply what they have learnt for the benefit of society. Browse all potential supervisor profiles further here: Synthetic Biology Theme Members Profiles.
Fees for 2017/18 entry
Full time: £4,195 Part time: £2,097
Full time: £17,500 Part time: £8,750
Full time: £4,121 Part time: £2,060
Full time: £17,200 Part time: £8,600
Additional course related costs
Fees quoted are per annum and are subject to an annual increase.
Entry Criteria 2017/18
The general University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree. All international students must show evidence that they meet the English requirement for their course of study: IELTS 7.0 (with no less than 6.0 in any section). This applies even if English is the native language of your home country. An appropriate level of English language competence is also expected as listed below. Find out which alternative English language qualifications we accept. Applicants may also be required to attend compulsory in-sessional English language support. The Senate reserves the right to assess the eligibility of applicants on an individual basis.
Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.
International and EU Entry Requirements
If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions
This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.
English Language Requirements
- IELTS: 7 (min 6 in all areas)
- Pearson: 64 (51 in all subscores)
- BrunELT: 70% (min 60% in all areas)
Brunel University London strongly recommends that if you will require a Tier 4 visa, you sit your IELTS test at a test centre that has been approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as being a provider of a Secure English Language Test (SELT). Not all test centres have this status. The University can accept IELTS (with the required scores) taken at any official test centre or other English Language qualifications we accept as meeting our main award entry requirements.
However, if you wish to undertake a Pre-sessional English course to further improve your English prior to the start of your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider. This is because you will only be able to apply for a Tier 4 student visa to undertake a Pre-sessional English course if you hold a SELT from a UKVI approved test centre. Find out more information about it.
Brunel also offers our own BrunELT English Test and accepts a range of other language courses. We also have Pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet these requirements, or who wish to improve their English. Find out more information about English course and test options.