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PhD in Evolution and Behaviour: exploring the connection between how organisms have evolved and how they behave

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

The connection between how organisms have evolved and how they behave is a fundamental principle of biology. It can show us why organisms are the way they are, and answer deep questions about the diversity of life on earth. We study how organisms have adapted to their environments, how new species form, and why animals behave the way that they do. Much of our work addresses real-world challenges such as understanding how climatic and other manmade changes affect how organisms adapt and evolve to their environment. We work across taxonomic groups including microbes, plants, invertebrates, fish, mammals and birds. We use both experimental evolution approaches and intensive field-based research. A particular strength is DNA sequence-based analysis, which is often used in tandem with more traditional approaches.

The Department of Animal and Plant Sciences is home to world experts in sexual selection and sexual conflict, ecological immunity, cooperative behaviour, population genetics, the evolutionary genomics of adaptation and evolutionary developmental biology. The department also hosts the NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility, which trains researchers in state-of-the-art molecular genetics techniques and is one of the largest Molecular Ecology laboratories in the UK.

Ours is a truly international environment, in the heart of one of the best student cities in the UK. Our research involves collaborations with colleagues in the UK, Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. Our postgraduate community is vibrant and diverse and we currently have over 100 graduate students carrying out PhD research, including numerous international students. We frequently host overseas staff and researchers attracted by the department’s and Sheffield’s outstanding reputation for high quality research and training.

As a PhD student in our department, you’ll be part of the Science Graduate School. You’ll get access to training opportunities designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science, and training from world leading experts in subject specific skills. You’ll be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience the breadth of technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit to learn more.

Entry Requirements

We welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any relevant subject that provides the necessary skills, knowledge and experience, including environmental, biological, chemical, mathematical, physical and social sciences. Candidates are expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree (or equivalent international qualifications). EU and International applicants may be required to provide evidence of competence in the English Language.

For more information and how to apply:

Funding Notes

Applications and Funding

We welcome applications from UK, EU and other international students. Please look at the departmental page to explore our active research areas. If you are interested in applying, you should first identify one or more research supervisors that suits your interests and contact them to discuss project ideas and funding options. UK and EU students are usually funded through one of our Doctoral Training Programmes. Overseas applicants should consult our external funding page to identify potential funding sources.

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.90

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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