Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience

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Run by Faculty of Life Sciences
Awards available PhD, MRes, MSc by research
Programme length PhD: three years full-time, or part-time equivalent;
MScR: one year full-time or four years part-time;
MScR and PhD then have one further year to write up.
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Start date Not fixed

Programme overview

The School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience has an international reputation for research excellence in neuroscience, cell biology and signalling, and cardiovascular biology. The school is highly committed to training the next generation of scientists from both the UK and overseas, taking great pride in the standard of our postgraduate provision.

New students enter an exciting research environment in which we support and challenge our postgraduates to excel. All postgraduates receive extensive research and transferable skills training.

The school is well supported by programme and project grants, particularly from the Medical Research Council, BBSRC, Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK and British Heart Foundation. This has enabled the school to provide a vibrant environment for research; we have more than 100 PhD students at various stages in their research projects.

Fees for 2022/23

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

UK: full-time
UK: part-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 (e.g. 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

Details about funded places and scholarships are listed on the Faculty of Life Sciences website.

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

Entry requirements

A first or upper second-class honours degree (or international equivalent) in a biomedical science discipline is required for entry to the PhD programme. We may consider MSc by research and MSc applications from candidates with a lower second-class degree (or international equivalent).

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 C
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 School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience encompasses internationally recognised research groups with interests extending from the whole animal, cell signalling and neuropharmacology to cardiovascular/respiratory function, synaptic plasticity and the study of sensory and sensorimotor systems in the intact brain. The diversity of this research is reflected in the wide range of postgraduate projects available.

A number of research groups use the world-class Wolfson Bioimaging Facility, which contains state-of-the-art light and electron microscopes. The school has strong links with the pharmaceutical industry and has forged collaborative research programmes with a number of companies. The school collaborates with clinical colleagues, aiming to translate our discoveries to the clinic to treat of a wide array of diseases: from neurological and neuropathic disorders to cancer and cardiovascular disease.


The majority of our postgraduate students become highly productive researchers through the course of their studies, publishing in leading peer-reviewed biomedical journals. Most go on to post-doctoral research in academia and industry, both in the UK and abroad. Other students use the skills gained during their study to enter postgraduate-level employment.

The school is also committed to promoting the advancement of women in science, and has received a Silver Athena SWAN award for our work in this area.

Staff profiles

Cell Signalling and Cell Biology

Dr Chrissy Hammond MBiochem (Oxon.), PhD(Lond.), (Senior Research Fellow), Regulation of cartilage and bone homeostasis in development and disease.

Professor Graeme Henderson BSc (Glas.), MA, PhD (Aberd.), Hon FBPhS, FRSB, (Professor of Pharmacology, Research Collaborator), Opioid tolerance and dependence.

Professor Ingeborg Hers MSc (Amst.), PhD (Utrecht), (Professor of Pharmacology and Cell Signalling), Regulation of platelet signalling and activation.

Dr Eamonn Kelly BSc (Sheff.), PhD (Lond.), (Professor of Molecular Pharmacology), Receptor desensitisation, second messengers, ligand bias.

Professor Paul Martin BSc (Sus.), PhD (Lond.), (Professor of Cell Biology), Tissue repair and wound healing.

Dr Stuart Mundell BSc (Glas.), PhD (Bristol), (Professor in Cellular Pharmacology), G-Protein-coupled receptor signalling in platelet function and thrombosis.

Professor Alastair Poole Vet MB, MA, PhD (Cantab.), M.R.C.V.S., (Professor of Pharmacology and Cell Biology), Signal transduction in platelets and thrombosis.

Professor Paul Verkade MSc, PhD (Utrecht), (Professor of Bioimaging), Correlative light electron microscopy of intracellular transport.


Professor Mark Cannell BSc (U.C.Lond.), PhD (U.C.Lond.), FRSNZ, (Chair in Cardiac Cell Biology), Cardiac excitation-contraction coupling.

Professor Hugh D Piggins, (Professor, Head of School)

Professor Jules Hancox DSc (Bristol), BSc (Leeds), PhD (St.And.), (Professor of Cardiac Electrophysiology), Physiology and pharmacology of native and recombinant cardiac ion channels.

Dr Emma Hart BSc (Liv.J.Moores), PhD (Brun.), (Lecturer), Human integrative cardiovascular control in health and disease.

Dr Andrew James BSc (E.Anglia), DPhil (York), (Senior Lecturer), Adaptations of cardiac atrial electrophysiology to elevated blood pressure and the susceptibility to atrial arrhythmias.

Professor Sergey Kasparov MD, PhD (Moscow), (Professor in Molecular Physiology), Physiological genomics of central cardiovascular control.

Professor Clive Orchard, (Emeritus Professor), Studies of cardiac excitation-contraction coupling, its regulation and the role of the t-tubules.

Dr Ana Paula Abdala Sheikh BSc, MSc, PhD, (Senior Lecturer / Research Fellow)

Dr Tony Pickering BSc, PhD, MB ChB (Birm), F.R.C.A., (Professor of Neuroscience and Anaesthesia / Honorary Professor of Bristol Medical School (THS)), Integrative sensory and autonomic neuroscience.

Dr Anja Teschenmacher Diploma, PhD (Munich), (Senior Lecturer), Mechanisms and roles of central catecholamine release.


Professor Richard Apps PhD, PhD.(Bristol), (Professor of Neuroscience), Structure-function studies of the cerebellum and its role in movement and cognition.

Dr Michael Ashby BSc (Hons), PhD, (Senior Lecturer), How early life experience guides the formation of synapses and circuits in the neocortex.

Professor Zafar Bashir BSc (N'cle), PhD (Glas.), (Professor of Cellular Neuroscience), Synaptic plasticity in the perirhinal cortex and hippocampus.

Dr Zuner Bortolotto PhD (SaoPaulo), (Senior Lecturer), Synaptic plasticity and epilepsy.

Dr Peter Brennan MA (Cantab.), PhD (Cantab.), (Reader), The vomeronasal system as a model to study how sensory input drives social behaviour.

Dr James Hodge BSc (Sheff.), PhD (Cantab.), (Associate Professor in Neuroscience), Ion channels, circadian rhythms, sleep, learning and memory in health, ageing and disease.

Professor David Jane BA (Cantab.), PhD (Salf.), M.R.S.C., (Professor in Chemical Pharmacology), Development of pharmacological tools for glutamate receptors.

Dr Matt Jones BA (Cantab.), PhD (Bristol), (Professorial Research Fellow in Neuroscience), Electro-physiological recording of neuronal network activity during cognitive behaviours and in psychiatric disease models.

Professor Bridget Lumb BSc, PhD.(Birm.), (Professor of Systems Neuroscience), Electrophysiology and functional anatomical approaches to investigate the neuronal pathways controlling pain.

Professor Neil Marrion BSc, PhD (Lond.), (Professor of Neuroscience), Ion channel coupling and CNS disease states.

Professor Jack Mellor BA, PhD (Cantab.), (Reader), Plasticity in the hippocampus and cortex.

Professor Elek Molnar MD, PhD, (Professor), Receptor function and localisation in neuronal and non-neuronal cells.

Professor Emma Robinson BSc, PhD (Bristol), (Professor of Psychopharmacology), Neural and neurochemical mediators of behaviour and their role in psychiatric disorders.

Dr Maria Usowicz, (Senior Lecturer), Calcium channel pharmacology; synaptic transmission in CNS.

Professor Clea Warburton BSc (R'dg), PhD (Lond.), (Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience), Neural and cellular substrates of learning and memory.


Dr Paul Dodson BSc, PhD, (Lecturer)

Apply now

Find out how to apply

Application deadline

Not fixed. We welcome applications at any time of year but encourage students to start at the beginning of the academic year in September 2022 with the rest of their cohort.

Open days and visits

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

Get in touch

Faculty Education Team Postgraduate Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 374 6625 Email:

65 St Michael's Hill
School website: School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience

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.


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