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Postgraduate study

PhD student examining root growth in a barley field
Our PhD students are registered at universities throughout the UK

With more than 500 staff and 163 registered PhD students, the James Hutton Institute is one of the biggest research centres in the UK and the first of its type in Europe.

Our thriving Postgraduate School is testament to our commitment to providing the highest standard of training opportunities to UK and international students. Undertaking postgraduate studies at the James Hutton Institute provides students with valuable experience of working in a professional environment.

Studying for a PhD at the James Hutton Institute

Our Postgraduate Student Liaison Team and your PhD supervisors will ensure you receive support and mentoring throughout your studies to enable you to achieve your full potential. Your studies will enable you to enter the employment market with the comprehensive range of scientific, as well as transferable, skills demanded by a highly competitive employment market.

Our annual Student Competition provides a valuable opportunity and learning experience for you to communicate your work to the wider scientific community. The winners of the oral competition represent the Institute at the annual Scottish Main Research Providers Postgraduate Student Competition.

You can view a list of our current PhD students (PDF, 336KB) as well as a list of students who have recently passed their viva examinations (PDF, 179KB).


PhD Studentships 2018 Opportunities

Opportunities for PhD projects from the James Hutton Institute's annual competitive joint-studentship programme are now being advertised on

All these PhD projects are funded jointly between the Institute and participating universities and opportunities are offered from all our Science Groups covering many aspects of our work.

At the James Hutton Institute we value the important contribution students make to the development of our scientific excellence and the expertise, talent and knowledge graduates bring to our research community. The Institute provides a research environment where technical and intellectual competency can flourish.

The support and mentoring PhD students receive throughout their studies from their Institute supervisors and our Postgraduate Student Liaison Team ensure students achieve a high degree of intellectual freedom, whilst equipping students with the comprehensive range of scientific and transferable skills demanded of today's scientists.

Cell and Molecular Sciences PhD Projects

  • The Role of Light Signalling in Plant Immunity – University of Glasgow
  • Characterisation of Escherichia Coli )157:H7 Metabolisim During Colonization of Plants – University of Reading
  • The Role of E3 Ligases on the Modulation of Recombination in Cereals – University of Dundee
  • Role of UV-B in Modulating Quality and Pest Resistance in Arabidopsis and Crop Plants – University of Glasgow
  • Host Cell Membrane Tethering During Plant Virus Infection – University of St Andrews
  • Cross-Kingdom Functional Characterisation of Salmonella Enterica Fimbriae – University of Glasgow
  • Unravelling Genetic Components of Potato Tuber Dormancy and Sprouting Sensitivity to Ethylene and Sugar Accumulation – University of Sheffield

Environmental and Biochemical Sciences PhD Projects

  • Developing Risk-Based Approaches to Modelling of Microbial Contamination in Scottish Rivers – University of Stirling
  • Utilising Fourier-Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectroscopy for the Characterisation of Intertidal Sediments – University of St Andrews
  • Fate and Impact of Antimony in the Environment:  An Ecological Risk Assessment – University of Aberdeen
  • Development and Test of a Multi-Pollutant Water Quality Model – University of Reading
  • Novel Constructed Wetland (CWs) Treatment Options for Rural Works – Cranfield University

Ecological Sciences PhD Projects

  • Designing Crops for the Future Climate - Understanding the Macroecology and the Ideal Phenotype for Thermal Tolerance in Crops – University of Aberdeen
  • What are the Biophysical Limitations to Deep Rooting? – Heriot Watt University
  • Cascading Effects of Fisheries Policy Through Bird Communities and the Terrestrial Environment – University of St Andrews
  • Phytophagus Mite Control in Raspberry: Integrating Top-Down and Bottom-Up Approaches – Harper Adams University
  • The Carbon Dynamics of Woodland Colonization on Moorland: Above and Below Ground Interactions – University of St Andrews
  • Environmental Engineering Using Seed Mimics to Support Increased Crop Water Use Efficiency – University of Aberdeen
  • Determining the Prevalence of Antimicrobial Resistance Genes in Water Distribution Systems – University of Strathclyde
  • Designer Grassland Pastures and Ley Rotations – Aberystwyth University
  • Assessing Scotland's Pollinator Strategy:A 'Real World' Approach – University of Edinburgh
  • Biodiversity of Parasitoid Networks and the Impact on Aphid Biocontrol – University of Greenwich
  • Does Rhizosheath Development Affect Plant Drought Tolerance? – University of Lancaster
  • Impact of N-Feritlizer Sources on Ammonia Oxidizer Niche Differentiation, Evolution and N2O Production – University of Aberdeen
  • Novel Biological Methods for Control of Disease in Tree Nurseries – University of Aberdeen

Information and Computational Sciences PhD Project

  • Multi-Source Remote Sensing for Enhanced Flood Modelling – University of Newcastle
  • Interkingdom Communication Via Small RNAs:Parasitic Nematodes and their Plant Hosts – University of Edinburgh
  • Social Justice and the Clean Energy Transition:Modelling Diffusion of Social Innovation – University of Edinburgh
  • Resource Distribution Networks in Nature and Society – University of Lancaster
  • Bayesian Network Approaches for Vulnerability Assessment and Management of Diffuse Groundwater Pollution – University of Aberdeen

Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences PhD Projects

  • Supporting Farmers in Managing the Soil Sustainability:Examining the Effectiveness of Different Advisory Approaches – University of Gloucestershire
  • Novel Approaches to Engaging Land Managers in Monitoring the Impact of Agri-environment-Climate Schemes – University of Aberdeen

Full details of the projects offered can be viewed on Closing date for applications is 5th January 2018

Please apply using our PhD application form (Word file 103 KB). Completed applications and enquiries should be sent to

November 2017

Externally funded PhD Opportunities

No externally funded PhD opportunities are available at this time.

Post Graduate Students

Staff picture: Wenbin Guo

Information and Computational Sciences (Dundee)

PhD Studentship

Constructions of regulatory networks and integration of large scale experimental data in plants

At a cellular and molecular level, biology functions as a unified system of interacting and/or independent groups of molecules. Extensive knowledge about individual cellular components often cannot explain how a system operates at the level of the system as a whole, and thus fails to deliver successful solutions to many biological problems. With the availability of both genome sequences and high-throughput technologies such as...

Printed from /staff/postgraduate on 17/10/18 10:42:40 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.