Explore UCD

UCD Home >

Graduate Research Programmes

Graduate Research Programmes

SBES is a vibrant research community, with critical levels of expertise covering the disciplines of cell biology, plant science, zoology, evolutionary biology and environmental science. Prospective PhD or MSc (Research) students can explore the major research themes within the school and contact SBES staff members directly to inquiry about the potential PhD opportunities.

All details of UCD Graduate Studies can be found here. FAQ's for Graduate students can be found here.

For our current student, please see frequently requested information:

Before applying for a PhD or a MSc (Research) in our School you will need to contact one of our academics who most closely matches your research area and see whether they can supervise you.

We would also recommend reading our SBES Graduate Handbook 2024-25, which contains extensive information in relation to these programmes and visiting the Graduate Studies website here.

You can find a full list of our academics with their contact details here.

Once a member of our academic staff has agreed to supervise you, they will need to submit the application form to the Graduate Administrator.

  • Application Form including a copy of birth certificate or relevant pages from the candidate's passport to confirm their official name and date of birth (non UCD applicants only).
  • Registration periods are at the beginning of: September, January or May.
  • The School strongly recommends entering the programme in September, which is the beginning of the academic year.
  • Applications should be made at least 4-5 months prior to the Registration deadline.
  • Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application following an assessment process which takes approximately 10 weeks.


  • Applicants for research degree should normally possess a first degree of at least an upper second class honours primary degree or the equivalent and/or Master's degree or its equivalent. The requirement for a first degree may be waived in the case of post-experience modules for candidates who can demonstrate sufficient relevant work experience.  In circumstances where examination results are not known at the time of application, the School of Biology and Environmental Science may make a Conditional Offer subject to receiving a complete and final transcript confirming that the applicant has met the above requirements. Notarised English translations, as well as the original transcript, should be provided where relevant giving details of all courses taken and examination marks obtained.  
  • Candidates whose primary language is not English, must provide a certificate of proficiency in English language (such as TOEFL, Cambridge or IELTS). Results must be less than 2 years old.  Please see further details here.

You can find further details on the application process here and FAQ here.

SBES Research Demonstratorship

Research demonstrators are paid a scholarship of €22,000 per annum for a total period of four years and receive a fee concession from UCD.

In order to qualify for the UCD fee concession, Research Demonstrators are required to demonstrate for a minimum of six hours per week for the academic session.

(Note: The fee concession does not include the Student Centre Levy, which must be paid by the student).

We are currently not offering this Scholarship for the 2024/25 term.

Other sources of funding:

(opens in a new window)Irish Research Council

(opens in a new window)Teagasc Walsh Fellowship

(opens in a new window)Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship


You can find further Scholarship details here.

Examples of Current PHD Research in the School

 A picture of a deer app

Kilian Murphy is working on the DAFM (Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) funded SMARTDEER project which aims to introduce data-driven monitoring for Irelands deer populations using custom made smart tools. This project has built a stakeholder network across Ireland and is working with them to solve management conflicts (e.g. forest damage, agricultural disease spread & road traffic safety) with new monitoring data. Kilian is a third year Ph.D. student in the Laboratory of Wildlife Ecology and Behaviour at SBES, and is supervised by Dr. Simone Ciuti.

Twitter: @kilianmurphy95

 A picture of a student in a greenhouse

Orla Sherwood is investigating the genetic basis of waterlogging tolerance in barley cultivars. Barley is susceptible to even short term waterlogging stress, a concern for future climate scenarios which predict more frequent extreme weather events such as flooding. This project aims to identify genes conferring waterlogging resilience to particular barley cultivars. Knowledge from Orla’s project will contribute to the development of climate smart agriculture and crops in Ireland. This project is supervised by Prof. Paul McCabe, Dr. Joanna Kacprzyk and Prof. Carl Ng, and is funded by an Irish Research Council and EPA Postgraduate Scholarship (photo credit: Prof. Carl Ng). 

Twitter: @orlasherwood

 A student working in a lab

Claire Hughes is a PhD student funded by the Irish Research Council and CB1 Botanicals, under the supervision of Associate Professor Antoinette Perry and Dr Susanne Schilling. Claire’s project focuses on Cannabis sativa, or hemp, as a novel treatment strategy for ovarian cancer. Claire is using in vitro cell models and patient tissue samples to investigate the anti-cancer potential of isolated bioactive compounds as well as whole-plant extracts, derived from the Cannabis sativa plant. 

Twitter: @clairehughes_98

 A student working in the glasshouse and collecting hemp apical meristem samples

PhD student Jiaqi Shi is working in the glasshouse and collecting hemp apical meristem samples. Jiaqi works with Dr. Rainer Melzer and Dr. Susanne Schilling, and her project is about a developmental and genetic analysis of sex determination in hemp (Cannabis sativa). Jiaqi’s research is funded by China Scholarship Council (CSC).

Twitter: @Jiaqi_Shih

 A picture of a cell

Alannah Chalkley is doing her PhD in the Cell Screening lab in SBES. Her work focuses on investigating the molecular mechanism governing nanoparticle internalisation and trafficking in 3-dimensional (3D) cell models called spheroids. Using high-content fluorescence microscopy, the way in which nanoparticles move from cell to cell within a 3D environment can be both qualitatively and quantitatively assessed. Here is an example image of a colon cancer spheroid showing nanoparticles (red), lysosomes (green), actin (magenta) and nuclei (blue). Alannah project is funded by the Irish Research Council Postgraduate Scholarship.

Twitter: @alannahchalkley

 Picture of a bat

Sam Carthy is studying the age related changes in noncoding RNA in long and short lived bats.

This involves annual sampling of a Myotis myotis colony in Brittany, France, together with bioinformatic analyses of samples across bat species.

Sam is a 3rd Year PhD student in the Laboratory of Mammalian Evolution and Molecular Phylogenetics, supervised by Prof. Emma Teeling and Dr. Graham Hughes. Sam’s project is funded by SFI Centre for Research Training in Genomics Data Science under grant number 18/CRT/6214

Twitter @BatSamC


Manager of Graduate Programmes School of Biology and Environmental Science

Rachael Reenan, Room E3.37 Science Centre East
Email: (opens in a new window)rachael.reenan@ucd.ie Telephone: + 353 (0)1 716 2395

School of Biology and Environmental Science