Postgraduate study

Discover why so many postgraduate students choose to study at St Andrews; from the strength of our reputation through to the support the University offers all students. All PhD students become part of St Leonards college on joining the University. See more about St Leonards college and student life:

The scale of the University allows us to compete successfully for private and public funding for our path-breaking research while being small enough to provide individual attention to everyone who chooses to study here. See here for the current prospectus for PhD study.

We also welcome applications from suitable self-funded candidates to undertake a one year Master of Science by Research degree (MSc(Res)) to engage in a full time research project and write a dissertation. It is an excellent opportunity to spend a shorter time in a research environment either for a standalone degree or as preparation for a PhD.

Useful Info

Also see our Masters courses
Also see our Research Section

Postgraduate visiting days

There are plenty of opportunities to visit the University of St Andrews. We hold visiting days throughout the year to offer prospective postgraduate students a chance to experience the University’s unique atmosphere and see for themselves the quality of the teaching on offer.
Click here to go to the University’s site


PhD and MD


PhD by research. For most students, the PhD is a three-year programme of supervised research, examined by thesis. The thesis is normally submitted by the end of the third year and is a piece of original work describing the research undertaken and its implications for present knowledge. During the first year of study the School may require your attendance on particular courses in order to acquire specific skills or knowledge, as appropriate to your area of study.


In 2003 the Scottish Parliament reinstated the right of St Andrews to offer a Doctorate in Medicine (MD) degree to candidates holding a recognised medical qualification. Candidates must have some connection with St Andrews as either graduates in Medicine or Medical Science from this University, or members of academic staff here in St Andrews

There are two routes to the award of the degree of MD. Firstly, the MD may be awarded as a result of research undertaken in St Andrews, for appropriately qualified candidates. The minimum period of study on a full-time research project is two years, or four years for part-time study.

Secondly, an MD may also be achieved through submission of a portfolio of published work, all of which must be in the public domain. This route is open to:

  1. any graduate of the University of St Andrews who holds a qualifying degree in Medicine of at least ten years standing; and
  2. any member of University of St Andrews academic staff of at least four years standing and no less than ten years from their doctorate or other recognised terminal degreewho holds a qualifying degree in Medicine.

Recently graduated students

Congratulations to our recent graduate Dr Robert Shore, who completed his thesis under the supervision of Dr Paracchini and will soon start a postdoctoral research position with Dr Eric Liao in the Craniofacial Developmental Biology Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Boston, USA.

PhD Student biographies

Pelin Ozgur Polat

Pelin Ozgur Polat is the recipient of a 3 year PhD studentship funded by the Republic of Turkey, Ministry of National Education. Supervised by Dr Ozakinci, Pelin is looking at a cross-cultural study on the effectiveness of gain- and loss-framed physical activity messages and its moderators. “My cross-cultural PhD project investigates persuasive effectiveness of the messages emphasizing impacts of engaging and not engaging in physical activity on stress and mental health. The messages are being tailored based on the needs and cultural backgrounds of undergraduate students in the UK and Turkey through adopting extensive piloting approach. During my PhD journey, the University of St Andrews and School of Medicine has provided me with a friendly and supportive environment. This has enriched my project by providing a unique opportunity to share progress with other researchers and benefit from their helpful advice.”


Laura Hay

Laura Hay is the recipient of a 3 year PhD studentship funded by the University of St Andrews, NHS Fife and the Scottish Government. Supervised by Dr Williams, Laura is looking at data linkage to examine the health outcome of looked after children in Fife. “I’m undertaking a PhD which is looking at health outcomes for Looked After Young People and Care Leavers in Fife. St Andrews is a great place to study and my PhD lets me develop my research skills whilst maintaining links with the NHS.”


Awa Sarr

Awa Sarr is the recipient of a 4 year PhD studentship funded by Medical Research Scotland in collaboration with Nucana, an Edinburgh based biotechnology company. Supervised by Dr Reynolds, Awa is looking at resistance mechanisms to gemcitabine using a whole genome RNAi approach. “I came to St Andrews to start a PhD focusing on the resistance to chemotherapy in pancreatic cancer. Here, I have the opportunity to work in a very multidisciplinary environment, in close collaboration with scientists, medics and industrial partners, which is stimulating and helps me consider my project from a broad point of view. In St Andrews I found a very welcoming place, where I met very diverse people making this experience really enriching”.


Gavin Robertson

Gavin Robertson is the recipient of a 3 year PhD studentship funded by the British Heart Foundation. Supervised by Dr Pitt, Gavin is looking at understanding new mechanisms of cardiac ryanodine receptor regulation by zinc. “The aim of my project is to investigate the molecular mechanisms through which zinc may contribute to the pathophysiology of heart failure and the School of Medicine provides valuable exposure to multi-disciplinary research programmes and access to top class facilities”.