Research course


University of Glasgow · College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences
PhDMSc by researchIntegrated PhD

Entry requirements

A 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent.

Months of entry


Course content

Parasites are fascinating organisms, because of their capacity to live and replicate within the host environment. How parasites adapt and survive is the focus of much study with the potential to generate new and important discoveries that can impact upon control. Most organisms harbor parasites and much of our research is aimed at understanding how parasites cause disease and how best to control disease in both humans and animals. Improving upon existing treatments and understanding mechanisms of drug resistance are important aspects of this work. In addition, the epidemiology, ecology and population genetics of parasitic pathogens are important areas of research that significantly impact upon transmission and control.

Our research portfolio covers a range of tropical parasites that cause important diseases, including Plasmodium ssp (malaria), Trypanosoma ssp (sleeping sickness), Leishmania ssp (leishmaniasis) and Theileria (East coast fever/theileriosis), along with filarial worms, the cause of elephantiasis. We also study parasites that are endemic in the UK such as Toxoplasma gondii and important gastro-intestinal parasites of livestock that cause significant economic loss to the agricultural industry and are important for global food security. Many important parasites are transmitted by vectors, and we have growing strengths in vector biology, most notably mosquitoes and ticks. We aim to apply our findings to informing control programmes and to translate our findings into better diagnostics, drugs and vaccines.

Students undertake individual research projects in the area of expertise of their supervisor(s), although many projects on offer are interdisciplinary.

Your choice of projects is diverse, reflecting the range of expertise of potential supervisors. The University of Glasgow provides an excellent environment for parasitology research, housing the largest group of parasitologists in the UK, studying all aspects of parasitic disease from gene to population. Parasitology is housed within the School of Infection and Immunity and the School of Biodiversity, One Health, and Veterinary Medicine. In addition, many of the group are members of the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Parasitology. The resources available provide the opportunity for excellent and cutting edge training in many different areas. These include molecular biology, biochemistry, ecology, epidemiology, mathematical modelling, bioinformatics, genetics, cell biology (including advanced in vitro and in vivo imaging), immunology and polyomics (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics etc). Many projects are laboratory-based in up-to-date facilities with excellent research resources. Interdisciplinary research is a key aspect of our approach and we have many collaborators both within the university and externally. Some projects involve considerable amounts of fieldwork in the UK or overseas.

Specific areas of interest include

  • molecular basis of sexual development in Plasmodium
  • metabolism of P. falciparum
  • genetics and biology of the interactions between P. falciparum and the mosquito vector
  • ecology and behaviour of malaria vectors
  • cellular remodelling of trypanosomes and Leishmania during their life cycles
  • cell division in trypanosomes
  • homologous recombination, DNA repair pathways and antigenic variation in T. brucei
  • african trypanosomes and their interactions with their hosts
  • neuropathology of African trypanosomiasis
  • invasion of the host cell by T. gondii
  • biogenesis of the mitochondrion and apicoplast in T. gondii
  • control of host cell division and parasite differentiation in Theileria
  • immune regulation in vivo in relation to parasitic infection
  • fitness costs of the immune response and wild immunology
  • imaging the immune response to parasites in vivo
  • mathematical modelling of host-parasite systems
  • epidemiology of zoonotic pathogens in Africa
  • mechanisms of drug resistance (protozoan, nematode, ectoparasites)
  • the role of membrane transporters in parasite virulence and drug susceptibility
  • development of new lead compounds and vaccines for parasitic diseases (protozoan and nematode)
  • use of C. elegans as a model for understanding gene function in parasitic nematodes
  • microRNAs and their functions in parasitic nematodes

Information for international students

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)

  • 6.5 with no sub-test under 6.0.
  • Tests must have been taken within 2 years 5 months of start date. Applicants must meet the overall and subtest requirements using a single test.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PhD
    part time
    60 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    36-48 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
  • MSc by research
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
  • Integrated PhD
    full time
    60 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details