What’s it like to do a PhD in Behavioural Biology?
Studying a Behavioural Biology PhD, you’ll gain wide-ranging ability in the laboratory but also valuable experience working with participants – a skill that many other Biology-based PhD projects don’t involve. Since you’ll work with people directly, you’ll also develop a deep understanding of the ethical implications of your work and the studies conducted in the literature.
Some typical research topics in Behavioural Biology include:
- Circadian rhythm and what affects this
- The link between a specific disease and behaviour
- The brain and communication
- An animal’s brain and behaviour
- Evolution of mechanisms in response to environmental pressure
- How environment affects healthy systems e.g., the immune system
Generally, PhD programmes in Behavioural Biology are advertised with full funding attached. These are either three-year programmes or a four-year doctoral training programme. Since the project is advertised, the scope and key aim of the project is pre-determined by the supervisor, but you’ll shape the remainder of the project.
Proposing your own research in Behavioural Biology is uncommon as you must find a supervisor with research goals that align with yours, and that has the necessary equipment you’ll need. It can also be a headache finding adequate funding to cover bench fees alongside your PhD fees.
In a normal day, you’ll be in the laboratory performing experiments on samples or on participants, analysing past data, and talking though your results with your supervisor and colleagues. To be awarded your PhD, you’ll have significantly contributed to your field through a thesis of around 60,000 words and to have defended your work during your viva exam.