SoCoBio BBSRC doctoral training partnership scholarships (2021)

The University of Sussex is a member of the SoCoBio Doctoral Training Partnership, funded by the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council (BBSRC). Successful applicants follow a four-year research skills training programme and will have their UK PhD tuition fees and living allowance (currently £15,285 for 2020-21) covered for the four years. They will also have access to further funds for research expenses. They will benefit from laboratory rotations in year one, a placement, taught modules in entrepreneurship and data management and from Socobio summer schools and conferences.

Type of award

PhD scholarship

PhD project

You will have supervisors from at least 2 SoCoBio partner instiutions and will follow the 4 year SoCoBio training programme with taught modules and two laboratory rotations in year one.

You apply to the SoCoBio programme rather than to a specific project, although you can express an interest in a particular theme or project.  There is a choice of 3 types of projects - standard projects, CASE studentships (with involvement from a non-academic partner) and industry co-funded studentships (with substantial investment from the non-academic partner).

If you are accepted onto the programme, you will be matched with your project from the start if you are awarded an industry co-funded scholarship .  However, most students will select two four-month laboratory rotations and will register at the host of their first rotation. Their second rotation can be at the same or at different host and towards the end of this second rotation, you will decide on your PhD project and supervisor.

All the projects offering laboratory rotations are listed on the SoCoBio website.

The advertised projects led by Sussex supervisors are:

Dynamic   modelling of synthetically lethal pathways to enable the development of   cancer therapeutics (Industry led project) Dr Frances  Pearl
Characterisation of an atypical kinase regulating bacterial metabolism Dr Stephen Hare

Brain mechanisms of high-strength alcohol seeking
Dr Eisuke   Koya
Assessing impact of leptin peptides and analogues on tau   aggregation and toxicity: towards novel therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease Dr Cristina Pubill Ulldemolins
Coastal rewilding and food security: understanding restoration   pathways using ecoacoustics and environmental DNA (eDNA) Dr Mika Peck
Exploiting Mycobacterium tuberculosis biofilm-derived phenotypes   for transformative novel drug discovery Dr Simon Waddell
Gaining a better understanding of apoptosis rescue; stabilising   p53 Mutants. Prof John Spencer
Growing complimentary crops and nutritionally rewarding   cultivars to sustain insect pollinators and crop pollination on farms Prof Dave Goulson  
Host plant relationships of insect potential vectors of Xylella   fastidiosa Dr Alan J A Stewart  
Integration of visual and modulatory inputs in the early visual   system Prof Leon Lagnado
Mapping APOE and Microglial effects on cognition across the   lifespan Dr Sarah King
Multimodal   imaging of selective recollection in youth and ageing  Dr Alexa Morcom  
The causes and   consequences of sexual reproduction in bacteria Professor Adam Eyre-Walker
Uncovering the structural and molecular mechanism of CBTF, a key   regulatory transcription factor during early embryonic development Dr Erika Mancini
Understanding the genesis of chromosomal breakpoints: the role   of a virus in driving MYC translocations in B cells Professor Michelle   West


PhD studentships cover four years of UK PhD fees and a tax free maintenance allowance (currently £15,285) plus some research costs.

While international students are eligible to apply, BBSRC scholarship funding covers only UK fees. The consortium is currently investigating whether it will be able to offer a small number of fee waivers covering the balance between UK and international fees.


SoCoBio studentships are open to UK and Overseas students according to the latest UKRI student eligibility rules.  Up to 30% of each cohort of students may be Overseas students, but Overseas PhD fees are not covered by the BBSRC scholarship and the consortium is investigating whether it can offer a small number of international fee waivers. 

You count as a UK student if you are :

  • a UK national who has been living in the UK or EU for the three years prior to starting your course;
  • an EU national with Settled Status;
  • an EU national with Pre-Settled status who has been living in the UK or the EU for 3 years prior to starting your course;
  • a student with Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK;
  • an Irish National (due to a reciprocal agreement with the UK)

All other students (e.g. EU nationals moving to the UK to start their PhD) will count as Overseas students.



Number of scholarships available

Up to 27 scholarships are available across the consortium.


10 January 2021 23:59 (GMT)

How to apply

The SoCoBio studentship competition is now open for applications with a Jan 10th 2021 deadline.

THE DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED from Jan 4th due to IT maintenance issues with the application system.

Further information about applications and about the SoCoBio progamme is available on the SoCoBio website

Although you express an interest in a research theme, you apply to the 4 year programme rather than to a specific project and all applications are submitted on the Southampton application system. If you are accepted onto the programme, you will select two four-month laboratory rotations and will register at the host of your first rotation.

Candidates will be invited to interview and have an opportunity to visit all partner institutions, however due to the current pandemic interviews may be online video interviews instead of in person and visits to partners might not be possible. A decision will be made nearer the time.

Standard DTP Studentships

Interviews will take place on 18 and 19 February 2021 at the University of Southampton with an interview panel of academics from across the DTP partners. Candidates will be notified by 29 January 2021 if they have been selected for interview. Students will have the opportunity to visit all partner institutions prior to interview, with the exception of the University of Southampton where tours of the University will be available on the day of the interview.

Industry co-funded studentship

Interviews will be carried out by the project supervisors together with a representative from the DTP Management Board in February at the institute where the project is based. Candidates will be notified by 29 January 2021 if they have been selected for interview.

When applicants accept offers, they will confirm their choice of rotations and apply for a PhD at the host of their first rotation if they have not already done so.

Contact us

Amanda Britt, Research and Enterprise

01273 678498

Further information on the SoCoBio website


The timetable is as follows:


Deadline for online applications

January 4th 2021

Invitation to interview

January 29th 2021

Interviews at Southampton or via Zoom

February 18th and 19th  2021

Open days/evenings at host Institutions

January 2021

Offer made to successful candidates

Late February/Early March 2021







At level(s):
PG (research)

Application deadline:
10 January 2021 23:59 (GMT)
the deadline has now expired


The award is available to people from these specific countries: