Molecular, Genetic and Lifecourse Epidemiology (Wellcome)

Find a programme
Run by Faculty of Health Sciences
Awards available PhD
Programme length Four years full-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available No, full-time only
Start date October 2022

Programme overview

Our ability to fully exploit new molecular and genetic technologies in epidemiology depends on a new generation of interdisciplinary scientists who can harness the benefits of these technologies in exciting and productive ways. This innovative four-year PhD programme equips students with the knowledge and technical skills to achieve this.

We welcome students from a wide range of backgrounds. Our community of researchers have diverse skills and work together on exciting interdisciplinary research projects using data and samples from leading cohort studies such as ALSPAC and UK Biobank. We strongly encourage applicants from a range of disciplines (eg natural sciences, biostatistics, molecular genetics, econometrics, biochemistry, mathematics, statistics, engineering and computer science). 

This programme offers generous funding from the Wellcome Trust and a distinctive cross-disciplinary approach. The first year is designed to offer you opportunities to investigate core subject areas, such as epidemiology, genetics and statistics. You will complete two 4-month mini-projects tailored to your training needs and attend a series of short courses and workshops selected from a menu of research methods, computational, statistical and generic training options. Towards the end of the first year you will refine the plans for your main PhD project, which will be completed in years 2-4. Throughout the programme you will benefit from supervision by highly regarded academics in a dynamic research environment.

Fees for 2022/23

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2022/23 are as follows:

UK: full-time
Overseas: full-time

Bench fees: For postgraduate research students who are not funded by UK Research Councils or (specific) UK charities, it is usual to charge a bench fee. A bench fee covers the costs of laboratory consumables, specialist equipment and other relevant costs (eg training) for the duration of the programme. The bench fee charged can vary considerably depending on the nature of the programme being undertaken. Details of specific bench fee charges can be provided on request and will made clear in the offer letter sent to applicants.

Following the recent changes to fee assessment regulation, Channel Islands and Isle of Man students will no longer be charged a separate tuition fee. From the 2021/22 academic year they will be charged the same fees as Home students.

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to a five per cent increase in fees each year. Find out more about tuition fees.

Alumni discount

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a 25% reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni discount.

Funding for 2022/23

This programme is fully funded by Wellcome who provide funding to cover PhD programme fees at UK student rate, research expenses, a stipend for living expenses, contribution towards travel and transferable skills training and transition costs at the end of the studentship to support the move to your next career stage.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Programme structure

Year one

The first year involves two mini-projects (four months each) with different supervisors. You will also be offered training through subject-specific short courses in epidemiology, statistics and data science in addition to generic skills sessions. The mini-projects are chosen by students in discussion with their supervisors to provide them with the training they need for their main PhD. This might include projects in:

  • Molecular and/or genetic epidemiology
  • Lifecourse epidemiology
  • Biostatistics and/or bioinformatics
  • Molecular/genetic laboratory skills.

These mini-projects allow you to study a range of research areas with different supervisors, enabling you to develop your research skills and to make an informed plan at the end of your first year for your main PhD thesis project. 

Years two to four

Your main PhD project is carried out during this three-year period. You may attend additional short courses during this time, and we will encourage you to present your work at international conferences. Your final PhD thesis will be submitted at the end of year four.

Entry requirements

You will have a good honours degree (minimum requirement is a 2:1) or master's degree in a relevant discipline. As this is a multi-disciplinary programme, degrees may be in a range of science subjects, but the applicant should be able to demonstrate in their research statement how they will apply this to molecular, genetic or lifecourse epidemiology.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you need to meet this profile level:
Profile B
Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Admissions statement

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Admissions statement

Research groups

The programme is based within the Population Health Sciences department of Bristol Medical School, but includes supervisors from other departments in the university who are involved in population health research. Research in the Department of Population Health Sciences contributes to significant healthcare improvements and policy change around the world. It is collaborative and multidisciplinary, with staff coming from a wide range of academic disciplines and clinical specialties. Many of our supervisors and students are based in the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, but there are research opportunities with supervisors in a number of other centres and groups within the University. Further information can be found on our research webpages.

PhD projects offered for this programme will relate to at least one of the research themes in the department, but must have a primary focus on molecular, genetic or lifecourse epidemiology.


Our graduates are most likely to find post-doctoral research positions within leading universities. A number of our graduates have been successful in securing their own independent post-doctoral fellowship funding both within Bristol and elsewhere. Other potential destinations include the NHS and industry, particularly the pharmaceutical industry.

Staff profiles

Further details of the current supervisors and their interests are available on the programme website.

Apply now

Find out how to apply

Application deadline

Studentships are typically advertised from October each year, with a deadline in December. Successful applicants will be offered a studentship to start the following September/October. Please see the programme website for further details and specific dates.

Open days and visits

Watch on-demand recordings from November's virtual open week.

Get in touch

Sharen Hockey O'Keefe Graduate Administration Manager Phone: +44 (0) 117 928 7274 Email:

Bristol Medical School
University of Bristol
Canynge Hall
39 Whatley Road
Bristol BS8 2PS
School website: Bristol Medical School
Department website: Population Health Sciences

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, applying for a visa and the support we offer to international students.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

REF 2021 results

The University of Bristol is ranked fifth for research in the UK (Times Higher Education), with 94% of our research assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent.

Full REF 2021 results for the University of Bristol.


Important disclaimer information about our programmes.

Edit this page