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Division of labour

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Division of labour is when cooperating individuals specialise to perform different tasks. Division occurs across the tree of life, from bacteria to birds, and represents an extreme form of cooperation, which is hard to explain from an evolutionary perspective. This project will investigate the evolutionary forces that lead to division of labour. The project could be taken in a number of directions. In particular: (1) Exploiting genomic data from bacteria; (2) Across species comparative studies in insects (3) Experimental evolution in bacteria; (3) Development of mathematical models. To get an idea of the specifics of what we do, see recent papers at

Funding Notes

Funding is competitive, via either University/Departmental Studentships or Doctoral Training Centres (View Website).


- Cooper & West (2018) Division of labour and the evolution of extreme specialisation. Nature Ecology & Evolution 10.1038.
- Ghoul et al. (2017) Sociomics: using omic approaches to understand social evolution. Trends in Genetics 33, 408-419.
- West & Cooper (2016) Division of labour in microorganisms: an evolutionary perspective. Nature Reviews Microbiology 14, 716-723.

How good is research at University of Oxford in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 223.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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