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Postgraduate studentships

The Pirbright Institute has formed partnerships with a number of different universities and companies in the UK to offer a selection of exciting studentships studying viral infections of animals.

These partnerships offer students an exceptional opportunity to obtain a broad view of infectious disease research in a rich, stimulating and unique research environment. Students will have the opportunity to work with the different partners involved in their project, thereby giving them access to novel ways of tackling the problems of livestock diseases through interdisciplinary, cross-institutional approaches. This will be coupled to core skills training at the student’s host institutions, providing flexible training options and experiences that will support a wide range of career choices.

Watch this short film to find out more about PhD studentships at The Pirbright Institute:

Visit the Postgraduate Benefits page to watch our Student Spotlight interviews in full and gain insight from current PhD students.

Studentship Funding Eligibility:

For further information on funding eligibility please refer to: - Annex B.

Current opportunities


Ref Number Closing Date PhD Studentship Supervisors Project Details
2024/05 04.03.24 Paramyxovirus genomes and their untranslated regions; more than meets the eye! Dr Antonello Di Nardo (The Pirbright Institute), Prof Robin Shattock (Imperial College London), Dr Dalan Bailey (The Pirbright Institute), Dr Daniel Goncalves-Carneiro (Imperial College London)

This project represents an excellent opportunity for a student to train and develop expertise in bioinformatics and molecular virology, to research important RNA viruses, to publish high quality peer-reviewed papers, and to present their work at national and international conferences. Working with a team of fellow PhD students, postdocs and PIs at both The Pirbright Institute and Imperial College London, the prospective student will lead their own research project on paramyxoviruses. 

Paramyxoviruses are negative sense RNA viruses, and include many important human (Nipah, measles) and animal (peste-des-petits ruminants PPRV, Newcastle disease virus NDV) pathogens. Paramyxovirus genomes are specifically encapsidated by the viral nucleocapsid protein, supporting the idea that their RNA genomes are unstructured. This is opposed to the highly structured and functional RNA of some positive sense virus genomes, e.g. stem loops, pseudoknots, IRESs.  As a result, a role for paramyxovirus untranslated regions (UTRs) in directing gene regulation has been overlooked, since their mRNAs are thought to lack these RNA regulatory elements. This project directly challenges this dogma. The PhD student will seek to understand the evolution of paramyxovirus UTRs, characterise their function and examine their mechanism of action in the broader context of innate immune recognition and translational regulation.  Full details and how to apply

2024/06 18.03.24 Comparative analysis of the B cell and antibody response to bluetongue virus in cattle and sheep. Marie Di Placido, (The Pirbright Institute) Professor Christine Rollier (University of Surrey)
John Hammond & Kerry Newbrook (The Pirbright Institute) 

Bluetongue is a haemorrhagic disease affecting ruminants, caused by the Orbivirus, bluetongue virus (BTV), and transmitted by Culicoides biting midges. BTV typically causes severe clinical disease in sheep, yet is mild/asymptomatic in cattle, the main reservoir. BTV has a huge economic impact worldwide and remains a significant threat to the UK with continued outbreaks across Europe.
While inactivated vaccines have controlled past BTV outbreaks, vaccination only confers protection against the homologous BTV serotype, with 29 serotypes currently existing. Neutralising antibodies against BTV outer coat proteins, VP2 and VP5 (serotype determinants), are the only known correlate of protective immunity. The role of antibodies against immunodominant BTV structural protein, VP7, is unclear. This project will build on pre-existing data from the last 4 years investigating antibody responses to BTV infection/vaccination in cattle and sheep.

The student will be based primarily at The Pirbright Institute and registered with the University of Surrey. The student will visit the university to meet with their supervisors and undertake training or complete specific project tasks as required. Full details and how to apply

The Pirbright Institute has the following studentships which should be applied for through our partner organisations:  

Partner Organisation PhD Studentship Supervisors



How to apply for a postgraduate studentship:

See 'how to apply' page for details.

General enquiries can be emailed to

Studentships provide for tuition fees and stipend depending on eligibility (see project advert for details).


UK Posgraduate Doctoral Loans:

A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan (of up to £28,673) can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course, such as a PhD.  Students in receipt of Research Council funding are not eligible.  Details can be found here.

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