Preface content

Postgraduate training & supervision

The Institute has a vigorous postgraduate student programme. This has a three-fold purpose - to produce excellent research scientists in animal health, to make the unique facilities in the Institute for working on farm animals available more widely and to strengthen the links between the Institute and the Universities. The Pirbright Institute is recognised as an Associated Institution by the Universities of Bristol and Reading.

Students are funded from a variety of sources including the BBSRC, Pirbright Institute, British Council, Overseas Governments, Trusts, industry etc. Some studentships are funded under the CASE scheme and so students spend between three and 18 months of their studentship with the industrial partner.

Selection of PhD projects and candidates

Projects are advertised in the early part of the year in the scientific press and also on our website.

Applicants for studentships must have a 1st or upper 2nd Class honours degree or a lower 2nd Class honours degree plus a Masters. Not all applicants may be eligible for all studentships. Eligibility is determined by the funder and applicants should check this carefully before applying.

Short-listed applicants will be invited to the Institute for interview. They will have an opportunity to see the laboratory and other facilities and meet current students and post-docs.


The research and project-specific training of each student is primarily the responsibility of the Principal Pirbright Institute Supervisor, with the support of a Co-supervisor(s). Each student also has an external supervisor, who is usually a member of the university at which the student is registered. Close contact is encouraged with external supervisors who are also involved in the annual assessments. The Institute also provides a generic training programme which is provided and overseen by the Pirbright Institute Academic Committee. This programme provides training and development for students in a variety of transferable skills.

The Institute runs a programme of research seminars given by invited speakers, which students are expected to attend. There are also weekly internal seminars and research reports at both Laboratory and Division levels, in which students are required to participate. These activities help ensure that students graduate with a well-rounded knowledge of their own, and related, fields. There are also Journal Clubs to develop critical analysis skills. Students attend formal research reviews and courses run by Institute staff. Training also includes participation in meetings of scientific societies and attendance at laboratory courses that the supervisors may deem appropriate. Finally, students must satisfy the training and supervision requirements of the degree-awarding body with which they are registered.

There is an Institute Academic Committee which establishes policy in the area of postgraduate training and oversees all postgraduate student matters. The Committee has representatives from the student body in its membership.

Monitoring student progress

Student progress is carefully monitored throughout the period of study to ensure that they are progressing as expected and any problems are identified early and resolved. At the end of the first and second years there is a more extensive review whereby the student must prepare a report on their research progress and undertake a mini viva conducted by University and Pirbright Institute academic staff. Confirmation of registration for a PhD and continued funding is contingent on a satisfactory outcome at these review points.

Pastoral care, housing and social activities

In addition to their Principal and Co-Supervisors, each student has access to the Academic Committee and Human Resources Department for guidance, advice or support.

All students in their first year are guaranteed on-site accommodation (at a reasonable cost) if required.

Pirbright has a fitness room available for use and also benefits from regular activities run by the Social Club.

Trim content

® The Pirbright Institute 2024 | A company limited by guarantee, registered in England no. 559784. The Institute is also a registered charity.