Examples of linked MSc courses and PhD projects

Join our Integrated PhD programme and you'll have the opportunity to study for an MSc that will prepare you for a related PhD project.

Below are some examples of how specific master's courses in biology, medicine and health could prepare you for particular PhD projects.

Cardiovascular health and disease

Master's course: MSc Cardiovascular Health and Disease (Research)

This MSc will enable you to develop the biomedical research skills you need for a potential career in cardiovascular science, and allied healthcare and bioscience fields, even if you have no previous research experience.

You could use your skills and knowledge from this course to undertake PhD projects such as the following.

PhD project: Mechanisms of metabolic remodelling in obesogenic/diabetic cardiomyopathy (Supervisors: Prof A Kitmitto, Prof Elizabeth Cartwright)

This project will take a multidisciplinary approach for delineating the pathophysiological pathways underpinning mitochondrial dysfunction in the early stages of disease, to identify potential new therapeutic targets for intervention to prevent disease development.

The MSc provides preparatory training for PhD research by developing your knowledge of the cardiovascular system through specialist taught seminars coupled with tutorials.

Essential training in research skills, encompassing critical thinking, reasoning, communication and methods of quantitative analysis, provides a robust foundation for embarking upon academic research.

The 25-week practical research project will enhance the theoretical and experimental skillsets necessary for you to quickly transition into this PhD project.

Cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychology

Master's course: MRes Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology

This MSc offers a strong grounding in the theoretical understanding and practical experience of key research paradigms, research designs and statistical techniques used in experimental psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and neuropsychology.

You could use your skills and knowledge from this course to undertake PhD projects such as the following.

PhD project: Optimising the measurement of working memory for assessment of speech-in-noise perception (Supervisors: Dr Antje Heinrich, Dr Samuel Couth, Dr Rebecca Millman)

By taking the MRes, you would receive training in many of the skills that are central to successfully completing this project, such as:

  • an introduction to the theoretical foundations of memory research;
  • a systematic introduction to various experimental designs;
  • training on data analysis.

In addition, completing the MRes dissertation project would give you experience of obtaining ethics approval for experimental testing, and experience in recruiting different participant groups for testing.

Completing the MRes would prepare you to:

  • choose the most appropriate experimental designs based on your research questions;
  • collect and analyse data in an effective and efficient manner;
  • report your results using an academic style of writing.  

Experimental psychology with data science

Master's course: MRes Experimental Psychology with Data Science

This MSc will prepare you for a successful research career in experimental psychology, cognitive neuroscience and data science.

You could use your skills and knowledge from this course to undertake PhD projects such as the following.

PhD project: Infants' early understanding of word meaning (Supervisors: Dr Alissa Ferry, Prof A Theakston)

In the MRes, students will gain the essential statistical analysis skills required to support the PhD project, and have the opportunity to conduct a pilot study to begin training in the methodological aspects of the PhD project.

The MRes offers training in a range of relevant methodologies such as eye-tracking and EEG that can be used in this PhD project.

Medical microbiology

Master's course: MSc Medical Microbiology

This MSc covers the medical and molecular aspects of bacteriology, virology, mycology, epidemiology and management of infectious diseases.

You could use your skills and knowledge from this course to undertake PhD projects such as the following.

PhD project 1: Bacteriophage-based approaches for controlling infections associated with haemodialysis catheters (Supervisors: Prof Andrew McBain, Dr G Xia, Dr Anuradha Jayanti)

The MSc course will equip you with a broad and solid knowledge base and research skills in medical microbiology and infectious diseases, which will prepare you well to succeed in this PhD project with a focus on microbial pathogenesis and the development of novel antimicrobial therapies.

PhD project 2: Metals and host-pathogen interactions: the role of metal handling systems in the human gastrointestinal pathogen Campylobacter jejuni (Supervisors: Dr Jennifer Cavet, Dr D Linton)

The focus on clinical and molecular microbiology combined with development of a broad range of laboratory skills provided by the MSc Medical Microbiology is excellent preparation for this project.

During this PhD, the student will further develop their molecular microbiology research skills, studying two significant and related bacterial human pathogens that interact with the human host in fundamentally different ways. One, Campylobacter jejuni, causes an acute gastrointestinal infection, while the related Helicobacter pylori induces a chronic colonisation of the stomach.

We are particularly interested in how these bacteria obtain metals during infection and how they protect themselves from metal intoxication induced by the innate immune response.


Master's course: MSc Neuroimaging for Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience

This MSc explores cutting-edge cognitive neuroscience techniques and their application to research in clinical and cognitive neuroscience. You'll cover the theory behind cognitive, social, behavioural, and clinical neuroscience while gaining practical data analysis and functional neuroanatomy skills.

You could use your skills and knowledge from this course to undertake PhD projects such as the following.

PhD project: Understanding and optimising motor cortex plasticity (Supervisors: Dr Caroline Lea-Carnall, Dr L Parkes, Prof W El-Deredy)

By the end of the MSc, you will have gained practical experience and a theoretical understanding of data acquisition and analysis techniques required to measure structural and functional features of the brain.

In the PhD, you will use those skills to measure changes in network connectivity in the motor cortex in response to stimulation. Your theoretical knowledge will allow you to interpret the imaging data in terms of the underlying physiology.

Precision medicine

Master's course: MSc Precision Medicine

This MSc provides training in the principles of precision, translational and stratified medicine, and the impact of individual molecular variability.

You could use your skills and knowledge from this course to undertake PhD projects such as the following.

PhD project: Predicting response to IL6 inhibition in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (Supervisors: Prof A Barton, Dr D Plant, Dr Nisha Nair)

The MSc would be an ideal platform to apply for this PhD project. Students completing the MSc would have already received training on the principles of stratified medicine, as well as training in omics technologies, such as genomics and transcriptomics, which would be applied in the proposed PhD.

The PhD would allow students to apply their learning to address an important clinical question about whether we can use omics to better target the right drugs to the right patients.