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Postgraduate research opportunities 

Animal Ecology (Environmental Change)

We aim to predict the consequences of rapid environmental change such as that due to climate, habitat loss, renewable energy growth, pollution and over-exploitation of natural resources on biodiversity and human and animal health.


The environment is changing faster than at any time in recorded history, due to a range of factors including climate change, habitat loss, renewable energy developments, pollution and over-exploitation of natural resources. These changes are having profound effects on biodiversity and human and animal health - and we need to be able to predict the consequences.

 Our Institute integrates studies of the effects of environmental change operating at all levels of biological organisation. For instance, at the cellular level we are investigating how environmental conditions influence physiological and molecular processes including metabolism, oxidative damage, telomere loss  and the rate of ageing. This is linked to studies of how individual animals and plants cope with environmental fluctuations, and how in turn this influences population dynamics, species interactions (including those between parasites, vectors and their hosts) and community structure. We conduct both short-term experiments and long-term monitoring of wild populations (at a range of field sites including loch and woodland research programmes at SCENE, our field station on the banks of Loch Lomond).

We have many links to other research in the Institute and the wider university.  For example:

  • through the effect of environmental conditions on disease transmission or food production
  • through investigation of how animals evolve in the face of changing environments
  • through links with geographers, statisticians and mathematicians in the College of Science and Engineering.

Study options

PhD programmes in Animal Ecology/Environmental Change last 3-4 years, with individual research projects tailored around the expertise of principal investigators within the Institutes. A variety of approaches are used, including collection of experimental and observational data, epidemiological, mathematical, computational and statistical modelling, bioinformatics, physiology, parasitology, immunology and polyomics (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics). Basic and applied science projects are available  involving field, laboratory and in silico approaches are available, within research programs underway in both the UK and overseas.

Specific areas of interest include:

  • Conservation management of African ecosystems
  • Protected area management
  • Measuring biodiversity and abundance (this presumably overlaps with other themes)
  • Human dimensions of conservationAquatic ecosystem connectivity
  • Sustainable aquaculture
  • Behavioural and physiological approaches to improved production and welfare of farmed fish
  • Evolutionary ecology, life-history trade-offs and phenotypic evolution
  • Long-term effects of early environments on adult performance
  • Phenotypic plasticity and flexibility in variable environments
  • Ecology and physiology of marine animals
  • Effects of Marine Protected Areas
  • Effects of climate change on the abundance, body size, physiology and behaviour of aquatic organisms
  • Fisheries-induced evolution
  • Applied poultry science
  • Evolutionary processes within rare fish populations
  • Conservation strategies for rare and endangered fish and bird species
  • Control of invasive non-native species
  • Impact of freshwater and marine renewable technologies on fish
  • Evolutionary and ecological impacts on parasite life cycles
  • Avian behaviour and  ecology, including both marine and terrestrial birds
  • Changes in phenology and in daily rhythms
  • Migration and movement of birds, mammals and fish
  • Understanding how biological clocks affect organisms' response to environmental change
  • Effects of urbanisation on health of individuals, populations and ecosystems
  • Effects of light pollution
  • Understanding how biological clocks help or hinder organisms' adjustment to environmental change
  • Cold adaptation in marine mammals and birds
  • The effect of environmental stress on the physiology, behaviour and life histories
  • Applied poultry science
  • Ecology of neotropical rainforest birds
  • The effect of fishing practices on the evolution of wild fish populations (fisheries induced evolution)
  • The effects of animal physiology and environmental change on animal social behaviour and collective decision-making
  • Effects of exposure to pollutants on physiological systems
  • Possible transmission of antimicrobial resistance between species through environmental pollution
  • Effect of climate change and deforestation on vector-borne disease
  • Data-driven modelling of population dynamics and epidemics
  • Developing new methods for species distribution modelling


Entry requirements

2.1 Honours degree or equivalent

Required documentation

Applicants should submit:

  • Transcripts/degree certificate 
  • Two references
  • A one-page research proposal
  • CV

English Language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English.

Fees and funding



  • £4,260 UK/EU
  • £20,150 outside EU

Prices are based on the annual fee for full-time study. Fees for part-time study are half the full-time fee.

Additional fees for all students:

  • Submission by a research student £480
  • Submission for a higher degree by published work £1,200
  • Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed £300
  • Submission by staff in receipt of staff scholarship £680
  • Research students registered as non-supervised Thesis Pending students (50% refund will be granted if the student completes thesis within the first six months of the period) £270
  • General Council fee £50

Depending on the nature of the research project, some students will be expected to pay a bench fee to cover additional costs. The exact amount will be provided in the offer letter.

Alumni discount

A 10% discount is available to University of Glasgow alumni. This includes graduates and those who have completed a Junior Year Abroad, Exchange programme or International Summer School at the University of Glasgow. The discount is applied at registration for students who are not in receipt of another discount or scholarship funded by the University. No additional application is required.

2017/18 fees

  • £4,195 UK/EU
  • £19,500 outside EU

Prices are based on the annual fee for full-time study. Fees for part-time study are half the full-time fee.

Additional fees for all students:

  • Fee for re-submission by a research student: £460
  • Submission for a higher degree by published work: £1,050
  • Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed: £250
  • Submission by staff in receipt of staff scholarship: £730
  • Research students registered as non-supervised Thesis Pending students (50% refund will be granted if the student completes thesis within the first six months of the period): £300
  • Registration/exam only fee: £150
  • General Council fee: £50


View a full list of our current scholarships



We have excellent facilities for lab, field and farm based research.  This includes aquaria, aviaries, insectaries and labs for conducting analyses in

  • bioinformatics
  • cellular physiology
  • developmental biology
  • evolutionary biology
  • endocrinology
  • molecular ecology
  • physiological ecology

We also have

  • a state of the art field research centre on Loch Lomond (SCENE)
  • a University farm (Cochno) and research centre North of Glasgow
  • excellent computing facilities
  • a vibrant and supportive community of researchers
  • access to additional specialist facilities through our wide network of collaborators in NGOs, communities, government agencies and research institutes worldwide.

Graduate School

The College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences Graduate School provides a vibrant, supportive and stimulating environment for all our postgraduate students. We aim to provide excellent support for our postgraduates through dedicated postgraduate convenors, highly trained supervisors and pastoral support for each student.
Our over-arching aim is to provide a research training environment that includes:

  • provision of excellent facilities and cutting edge techniques
  • training in essential research and generic skills
  • excellence in supervision and mentoring
  • interactive discussion groups and seminars
  • an atmosphere that fosters critical cultural policy and research analysis
  • synergy between research groups and areas
  • extensive multidisciplinary and collaborative research
  • extensive external collaborations both within and beyond the UK 
  • a robust generic skills programme including opportunities in social and commercial training

Our excellent facilities and dedicated staff will equip you with training complementary to a range of career options, and you can tailor your study pathway to the precise aspects that suit your objectives. 

How to apply
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