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Evolution Education Trust PhD project - Evolution and biodiversity conservation in Africa: teaching, training and outreach

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, February 05, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The University of Bath is inviting applications for this PhD opportunity based at the Milner Centre for Evolution, a unique, cross-faculty research centre bridging biology, health and education. The Centre is dedicated to a broad range of fundamental research questions relating to evolutionary biology; from in deep time to the micro-evolutionary dynamics of a disease outbreak. We have a strong focus on public engagement and outreach. We are located in a dedicated multi-million-pound building that opened on the University campus in September 2018. Visit our website: https://www.bath.ac.uk/research-centres/milner-centre-for-evolution/.

Supervisory Team:

Professor Tamas Szekely, Milner Centre for Evolution and Department of Biology & Biochemistry, https://researchportal.bath.ac.uk/en/persons/tamas-szekely (lead supervisor).
Dr Paula Kover, Milner Centre for Evolution and Department of Biology & Biochemistry.
Dr Araxi Urrutia, Milner Centre for Evolution and Department of Biology & Biochemistry.

Project Overview:

Human populations are rapidly expanding in Africa and this expansion demands increasing resources, skills and investment into better education of people and improved standard of life. Africa is also home to spectacular biodiversity although human populations put increased pressures on wildlife. This project will research the state of current scientific knowledge in Africa with the objective of improving this knowledge using evolution as guiding principle. The project will investigate ways of improving teaching evolution in primary and secondary schools using local relevant content, and train university students in evolutionary science. By collaborating with a West-African NGO that has a community-based approach, the project will also use evolutionary principles to advance biodiversity conservation.

The project has three key elements. First, survey current knowledge of school teachers in evolutionary biology and design ways of improving evolutionary teaching. Research will include assessing the knowledge gain of teachers before and after the training, and then follow-up the changes in knowledge and problem-solving abilities of the students using an improved curriculum. Second, the student will liaise with a national university, and jointly with local academics, develop research projects to improve student knowledge in evolution and biodiversity. Thirdly, the student will carry out outreach activities and training events; we anticipate that Milner academics will join these events.

The overarching objectives of the project are to investigate current teaching practices of evolution and design avenues to improve student experiences; ultimately, to develop a template of evolution teaching in West Africa that can be adopted elsewhere.


Applicants should have an excellent academic record and hold, or expect to obtain, a First Class or high Upper Second Class UK Honours degree (or the equivalent) in a relevant subject. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Enquiries and Applications:

All enquiries should be addressed to Professor Tamas Szekely, .

** Candidates are strongly encouraged to discuss projects directly with the lead supervisor before submitting an application.**

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Biology:

On the application form, please ensure that you quote ‘Evolution Education Trust’ in the Finance section and the supervisor’s name and project title in the ‘Your research interests’ section. Should you wish to be considered for more than one project, quote the projects in order of preference and upload a separate personal statement relevant to each one.

It is essential that your application is complete when you submit it to us. Incomplete applications cannot be considered. You should ensure that you have completed all fields on the application form and supplied the contact details of TWO referees who are available and willing to provide us with a reference when requested (one must be from your most recent place of study). In addition, you should ensure that you have uploaded the following documents:
• a scanned copy of the certificate/s for any degree/s you have been awarded;
• a scanned copy of your degree transcript/s or your interim transcript if you are still studying;
• an up-to-date CV;
• a personal statement explaining your motivation for wishing to study a PhD and your interest in the specific project for which you are applying;
• English language test certificate (if available) for EU candidates.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Interviews will take place in Bath on Friday 3 April 2020.

Anticipated start date: 28 September 2020.

Unfortunately, we are NOT able to consider international applicants for this project.

Funding Notes

Candidates applying for this project will be considered for a 3.5-year Evolution Education Trust Studentship which will cover UK/EU tuition fees, a tax-free maintenance allowance at the UKRI Doctoral Stipend rate (£15,009 for 2019/20) and a generous budget for research, training and outreach expenses.

Note: Only UK and EU applicants are eligible for studentship funding.

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.50

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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