Evolution, behaviour and environment (2016 entry)

Subject overview

  • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) biological sciences at Sussex ranked in the top 10 in the UK for research quality. 87 per cent of our biology research is categorised as world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • We offer excellent facilities to support a wide range of research areas including worldleading laboratories for the study of social insects, field trials plots, greenhouses and controlled growth environment facilities.
  • The research environment is enhanced by associations across campus, including the MRC Genome Damage and Stability Centre and Brighton and Sussex Medical School.
  • Research students receive a programme of generic skills enhancing instruction in their first year, and supervision from two academics. Research projects are available in all our areas of particular strength such as evolutionary biology, social insects research, genomics, animal behaviour, neuroscience and onservation. We welcome discussion on potential projects with applicants.
Specialist facilities
We have constant-environment rooms, greenhouses, facilities for chemical analysis of contaminants, and facilities for studying and culturing social insects including a molecular lab, ant room and apiaries (Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI), Social Evolution Research Group, Insect Navigation Group).

The School of Life Sciences has one of the world’s largest concentrations of researchers studying social insects – such as ants, bees and wasps – that live in a colony with queens and workers. Our research investigates a wide range of questions, including how ants use olfactory and visual cues to navigate on foraging trips, how the many individuals in a bee colony co-ordinate their activities and communicate, how wasps resolve their conflicts over who works and who lays eggs, how bees overcome diseases, how they defend their colony and exclude intruders, and how sociality evolved in insects. In addition, a wide range of applied issues is studied, including the conservation of bumble bees and honey bees, improved bee-keeping methods, crop pollination, bee foraging preferences, and the environmental challenges faced by bees in urban areas and agricultural land.

Our campus, surrounded by the South Downs National Park, gives ready access for practical work in a variety of habitats and protected areas. We also conduct overseas fieldwork at field sites around the world such as Brazil, Fiji, Malaysia and Spain, and we run field modules in Ecuador, Portugal, England and Scotland.

Programmes

  • PhD in Biology
  • PhD in Environmental Science
  • MPhil in Biology
  • MPhil in Environmental Science

The School of Life Sciences is a vibrant international research community. Research in the School ranges from studies on the most basic chemical building blocks of life to how the brain generates behaviour or how insect societies are organised. We offer MPhil and PhD courses.

Evolution, behaviour and environment at Sussex focuses on how organisms evolve and interact with their environments. We address basic and strategic questions in both field and laboratory settings across a wide range of study taxa, and also use theoretical approaches. Major themes are:

  • sexual conflict
  • the role of natural selection in molecular evolution
  • co-operation, conflict and organisation in social insect colonies
  • mechanisms underlying animal behaviours, including navigation, visual perception, escape behaviour and collective decision-making
  • ecology and conservation of animals and plants in tropical rainforests, temperate grasslands and pollinators
  • policy-relevant global analyses • the measurement of environmental contaminants, such as endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and their effects on human and animal health.

Our expertise encourages interdisciplinarity and we hold two regular Evolution and Development seminar series. We have also established ties with other research groupings at Sussex, such as those in Informatics, SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit and Neuroscience, and we collaborate with scientists in a wide range of external organisations, including formal links with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Student progress and support 

Throughout your studies, as part of your intellectual development, you take part in laboratory meetings, journal clubs and a weekly seminar series. All students are encouraged to attend, and present their work at, national and international scientific meetings.

The School offers full support to all research students by monitoring their research progress in the form of annual reviews, informal meetings, mid-year reports (Year 1) and active participation in the Postgraduate Research Colloquium. The Colloquium brings research students and faculty together for a wider discussion of the ongoing research projects within the School. All third-year doctoral students give a talk on their research, and all second-year students submit a poster depicting the key aims and objectives, methods and findings of their research project.

We aim to ensure that our PhD students have the best possible research experience. The relationships between supervisors and PhD students are among the most rewarding academic partnerships. We also host regular social events for our students to mingle with their peers and supervisors across various disciplines.

We take student feedback very seriously and PhD student representatives form an integral part of our Student Experience Committee.

Entry requirements

MPhil in Biology

UK entrance requirements

A first- or upper second-class undergraduate honours degree in a subject relevant to your chosen area of research.

Overseas entrance requirements

If your country is not listed below, please contact the University at E pg.enquiries@sussex.ac.uk

If you have any questions about your qualifications after consulting our overseas qualifications, contact the University at E pg.enquiries@sussex.ac.uk

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each section.

For more information, refer to What qualifications do I need?

Additional entry information

If you are a non-EEA or Swiss national you must obtain clearance by the UK Government Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) for this degree. Please ensure you allow sufficient time for your University application to be processed in time for you to apply for ATAS clearance (and a Tier 4 Student Visa if appropriate). Find out more about ATAS.

MPhil in Environmental Science

UK entrance requirements

A first- or upper second-class undergraduate honours degree in environmental science, chemistry, geography, geology, biology or related subjects.

Overseas entrance requirements

If your country is not listed below, please contact the University at E pg.enquiries@sussex.ac.uk

If you have any questions about your qualifications after consulting our overseas qualifications, contact the University at E pg.enquiries@sussex.ac.uk

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each section. Pearson Test of English (Academic) 62 overall, with at least 56 in all four skills

For more information, refer to What qualifications do I need?

PhD in Biology

UK entrance requirements

A first- or upper second-class undergraduate honours degree in a subject relevant to your chosen area of research.

Overseas entrance requirements

If your country is not listed below, please contact the University at E pg.enquiries@sussex.ac.uk

If you have any questions about your qualifications after consulting our overseas qualifications, contact the University at E pg.enquiries@sussex.ac.uk

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each section.

For more information, refer to What qualifications do I need?

Additional entry information

If you are a non-EEA or Swiss national you must obtain clearance by the UK Government Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) for this degree. Please ensure you allow sufficient time for your University application to be processed in time for you to apply for ATAS clearance (and a Tier 4 Student Visa if appropriate). Find out more about ATAS.

PhD in Environmental Science

UK entrance requirements

A first- or upper second-class undergraduate honours degree in environmental science, chemistry, geography, geology, biology or related subjects.

Overseas entrance requirements

If your country is not listed below, please contact the University at E pg.enquiries@sussex.ac.uk

If you have any questions about your qualifications after consulting our overseas qualifications, contact the University at E pg.enquiries@sussex.ac.uk

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each section. Pearson Test of English (Academic) 62 overall, with at least 56 in all four skills

For more information, refer to What qualifications do I need?

Visas and immigration

Find out more about Visas and immigration.

For more information about the admissions process at Sussex

For pre-application enquiries:

Student Recruitment Services
T +44 (0)1273 876787
E pg.enquiries@sussex.ac.uk

For post-application enquiries:

Postgraduate Admissions,
University of Sussex,
Sussex House, Falmer,
Brighton BN1 9RH, UK
T +44 (0)1273 877773
F +44 (0)1273 678545
E pg.applicants@sussex.ac.uk 

Fees and funding

Fees

MPhil in Biology fees

Home UK/EU students: £4,1211
Channel Island and Isle of Man students: £4,1212
Overseas students: £18,3003

1 The fee shown is for the academic year 2016.
2 The fee shown is for the academic year 2016.
3 The fee shown is for the academic year 2016.

PhD in Biology fees

Home UK/EU students: £4,1211
Channel Island and Isle of Man students: £4,1212
Overseas students: £18,3003

1 The fee shown is for the academic year 2016.
2 The fee shown is for the academic year 2016.
3 The fee shown is for the academic year 2016.

MPhil in Environmental Science fees

Home UK/EU students: £4,1211
Channel Island and Isle of Man students: £4,1212
Overseas students: £18,3003

1 The fee shown is for the academic year 2016.
2 The fee shown is for the academic year 2016.
3 The fee shown is for the academic year 2016.

PhD in Environmental Science fees

Home UK/EU students: £4,1211
Channel Island and Isle of Man students: £4,1212
Overseas students: £18,3003

1 The fee shown is for the academic year 2016.
2 The fee shown is for the academic year 2016.
3 The fee shown is for the academic year 2016.

Find out more about fees

Visit Living costs

Scholarships

The sources of financial support listed below are for the subject area you are viewing and may not apply to all degrees listed within it. Please check the description of the individual source of financial support to make sure it is relevant to your chosen degree.

Visit Postgraduate research scholarships 2016

Visit Career development and part-time work

We are in the process of updating funding sources for postgraduate study in the academic year 2016/17. For general information, visit Postgraduate research scholarships 2016.

For more information on scholarships go to the Scholarships web pages.

Faculty interests

Prof Claudio Alonso
Professor of Developmental Neurobiology
C.Alonso@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Drosophila, Gene regulation, Hox genes

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Prof Jonathan Bacon
Professor of Neuroscience
J.P.Bacon@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: ant navigation, Drosophila, neural circuits, social arthropods

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Prof Paul Benjamin
Emeritus Professor
P.R.Benjamin@sussex.ac.uk

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Prof Daniel Colaco Osorio
Professor of Neuroscience
D.Osorio@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: bird, cephalopod, colour, cuttlefish, evolution, neuroethology, physiology, Vision

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Prof Thomas Collett
Emeritus Professor
T.S.Collett@sussex.ac.uk

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Prof Juan Pablo Couso
Professor of Developmental Genetics
J.P.Couso@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Genomics, Peptides

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Prof Adam Eyre-Walker
Professor of Biology
A.C.Eyre-Walker@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Mitochondria, Mutation, Population genetics, Transposable elements

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Prof Jeremy Field

jf94@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Behavioural Ecology, cooperative breeding, evolution of sociality, Evolutionary biology, parental care, primitively eusocial wasps and bees, social dominance hierarchies

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Prof Tim Flowers
Professor of Plant Physiology
T.J.Flowers@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: halophytes, ion transport, Plant physiology, salinity, salt-tolerant plants

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Prof Dave Goulson
Professor Of Biology
D.Goulson@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Animal behaviour, Animal ecology, Behavioural Ecology, Biodiversity, Conservation Ecology, Insecticides, Pollination

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Dr Paul Graham
Reader
P.R.Graham@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Animal behaviour, Learning, Memory, navigation, neuroethology, social insect biology, Vision

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Dr Majid Hafezparast
Reader in Human/Mammalian Molecular Genetics
M.Hafezparast@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Aging, Axonal transport, Human Molecular Genetics, Intracellular signalling, Motor neuron disease, Mouse genetics, Neurodegeneration, Neurodegenerative disease

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Prof Elizabeth Hill
Emeritus Professor
E.M.Hill@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: chemical contaminants, fish, human health, Metabolomics, Pollution, urinary biomarkers of disease

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Prof William Hughes
Professor of Evolutionary Biology
William.Hughes@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Animal behaviour, Behavioural Ecology, biology and conservation of apex predators, causes and consequences of 'animal personalities', conservation biology, disease ecology and evolution, evolution of sociality and symbiosis, Evolutionary biology, host-symbiont interactions and evolution, lions, pollinator conservation, social insect biology, white sharks

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Dr Ildiko Kemenes
Reader in Neuroscience
I.Kemenes@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Animal behaviour, Electrophysiology, Invertebrates, learning and memory, Memory

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Prof George Kemenes
Professor of Neuroscience
G.Kemenes@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Adenylate cyclase, Amyloids, Computational Neuroscience, Cyclic AMP, Electrophysiology, Histones, Intrinsic plasticity, Ion channels, Learning, Memory, Memory dysfunction, microRNA, Neurodegeneration, Protein kinase, Synaptic plasticity, Systems neuroscience, Transcription factors

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Dr Sergei Korneev
Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience
S.Korneev@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Memory

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Prof Corne Kros
Professor of Neuroscience
C.J.Kros@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Hearing

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Prof Leon Lagnado
Professor Of Neuroscience 'Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award holder'
L.Lagnado@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Vision

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Prof Michael Land
Associate Tutor
M.F.Land@sussex.ac.uk

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Dr Ted Morrow
Senior Research Fellow
Ted.Morrow@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Drosophila, Evolutionary biology, Evolutionary genetics, Evolutionary Medicine, Gene expression, Sexual antagonism, Sexual conflict, Sexual selection

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Dr Jeremy Niven
Senior Lecturer in Zoology
J.E.Niven@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Animal behaviour, Behaviour and Energy Efficiency, Behavioural choice, Behavioural Neuroscience, Computational Neuroscience, Evolutionary biology, neuroethology, Sensor Integration, Sensory receptors, Systems neuroscience

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Prof Michael O'Shea
Emeritus Professor
M.O-Shea@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Invertebrates

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Dr Mika Peck
Senior Lecturer in Biology
M.R.Peck@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: ecology and conservation of biodiversity hotspots, impacts of global change, primate behaviour, primate conservation, REDD++, spider monkeys, tropical rainforest ecology

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Prof Francis Ratnieks
Professor of Apiculture
F.Ratnieks@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Animal behaviour, beekeeping, Behavioural Ecology, honey bee, Insects, Social evolution, social insects

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Prof Guy Richardson
Professor of Neuroscience 'Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award holder'
G.P.Richardson@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Deafness, Hearing

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Dr Jorn Scharlemann
Reader in Ecology & Conservation
J.Scharlemann@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: agriculture and conservation, Applied ecology, Biodiversity, Conservation, Conservation Science, Environmental modelling, Environmental policy, Environmental Statistics, GIS Mapping, Remote Sensing & Earth Observation, Sustainability: Environmental

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Prof Kevin Staras
Professor Of Neuroscience
K.Staras@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Alzheimer's Disease, Computational Neuroscience, Drug discovery, Ion channels, Memory, Neurodegeneration, Neurodegenerative disease, Structural biology, Synapses

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Dr Alan Stewart
Senior Lecturer in Ecology
A.J.A.Stewart@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Community Ecology, Conservation Ecology, Conservation Science, Ecology, biodiversity and systematics, Entomology, Insects

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Careers and perspectives

Many of our graduates have gone on to careers in research, for example as lecturers at universities or scientists, including at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Others have followed a variety of careers in areas such as conservation, agriculture or applied biology.

To find out more, visit Careers and alumni

Research training

The University’s Doctoral School runs a wide range of training courses covering the needs of students throughout all phases of their studies.

Visit the Doctoral School website

Visit Stages of doctoral study

School and contacts

Contact us

Evolution, behaviour and environment, 
School of Life Sciences,
Postgraduate Admissions 
John Maynard Smith Building, 
University of Sussex, Falmer, 
Brighton BN1 9QG, UK 
T +44 (0)1273 678057 
E lifesci@sussex.ac.uk

Visit the School of Life Sciences: Evolution, behaviour and environment

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Meet with Sussex staff in your country at exhibitions, visits to schools and universities, and at a wide range of other events. Forthcoming visits are planned all over the world:

Bahrain • Brazil • Brunei • Canada • China • Colombia • France • Germany • Ghana • Greece • Hong Kong • India • Indonesia • Iraq • Italy • Japan • Kenya • Kuwait • Malaysia • Mexico • Nigeria • Norway • Pakistan • Qatar • Saudi Arabia • Singapore • South Korea • Spain • Sri Lanka • Taiwan • Thailand • Turkey • UAE • USA • Vietnam.

In-country representatives

In the International Office, we manage a network of overseas representatives who have been trained to support international students with their application to study at the University. Services representatives provide can include pre-departure information, support in submitting your housing application and advice regarding applying for a UK Student Visa.

Find out more about our overseas visits and in-country representatives

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