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Vision Sciences

Our PhD in Vision Sciences comprises student-led research across a wide range of disciplines, from molecular and cell biology to neuroscience and clinical studies of human vision.

A PhD by research at the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences is based around a specific, well-defined research topic. All students have regular meetings with their supervisory team, as well as an advisor who is not directly involved with the project, and is able to objectively monitor the progress of the research, and to provide independent guidance. In addition to the core research topic, the School provides a diverse programme of transferrable skills training, which complements the Doctoral Academy Programme.

Programme aims

To provide opportunities to acquire knowledge and expertise for post doctoral/lectureship/academic positions in vision science research, neuroscience, molecular biology, molecular genetics, cell biology and vision science as well as for research positions in industry, the Health Service, scientific informatics and science writing.

Key facts

Mode of study Full-time, part-time
Qualification PhD, MPhil
Full-time duration PhD 3-4 years
Start dates January, April, July, October

The School appreciates the importance of a supportive and encouraging environment for postgraduate students.

All research students have dedicated computer and desk space in an office shared with other students. Regular meetings with the respective PhD supervisory team ensure that satisfactory progress is maintained.

The School provides a diverse programme of transferable skills training, which complements the Doctoral Academy Programme. Part of the personal development of postgraduate research students includes the ability to present research findings. To this end, the School provides funding for each postgraduate student to attend at least one major national/ international conference, in addition to the frequent opportunities for each student to present their work to peers at School research group meetings, the School seminar series and the annual School research poster competition.

Skills developed

This course aims to provide the graduate with a skillset, which will advance them towards the goal of becoming an independent researcher.

In addition to research project specific skills, graduates can expect to develop transferrable research skills in areas such as study design, statistical analysis, scientific writing, research governance and ethics, and presentation of research findings.

The School seminar series provides the opportunity for graduates to widen their general understanding of Vision Research. There are also opportunities to develop teaching skills, through supervision of the undergraduate course, and the Doctoral Academy provides courses addressing diverse aspects of generic skills training, such as computing skills, time management, rapid reading, and careers planning.

Research is currently aligned with four themes comprising

  • Visual Neuroscience,
  • Retinal Degeneration and Ageing
  • Structural Biophysics
  • Visual Rehabilitation.

This breadth of research enables a truly multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach to the investigation of vision and visual disorders.

Students are drawn from a wide variety of scientific backgrounds, including Psychology, Physics, Biology, Biochemistry, Neuroscience, Zoology etc., as well as Optometry.

Research in the School falls into two types of activity:

  • Fundamental lab-based scientific experimentation on the eye and visual system
  • Clinical patient-based research.

Research areas

Clinical Investigation and Vision Sciences

Clinical Investigation and Vision Sciences is a research area in which you can focus your studies within our PhD programme in Vision Sciences.

Structural Biophysics

Structural Biophysics is a research area in which you can focus your studies within our PhD programme in Vision Sciences.

Visual Neuroscience

Visual Neuroscience

Those who successfully gain their research degree generally find employment commensurate with their academic achievement within six months of graduation. Positions include postdoctorate or lectureships within Universities, senior appointments within NHS Trusts, professional service appointments within major optometric companies, pharmaceutical, and other industry employment such as Novartis, Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

UK government postgraduate doctoral loans

Candidates for the Professional Doctorate programme may be eligible to apply for a UK government postgraduate doctoral loan.

Find out more about UK government postgraduate doctoral loans


Funding is available periodically from a range of sources including the UK Research Councils, medical charities (e.g. Fight for Sight, College of Optometrists, NERC, etc.), and industry.

See our latest PhD studentships and projects and find out more about other funding opportunities.

Tuition fees

Students from the UK

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from the rest of the world (international)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Suitable for graduates in optometry, medicine, psychology, social science, physics, biology, biochemistry, mathematics or any relevant scientific discipline.

A First or Upper Second class UK Honours degree, master's degree, or equivalent is required.

English language requirements

IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 with 5.5 in all subskills, or equivalent. Please see our English Language Requirements guidance for more details.


Academic contact(s)

Tony Redmond


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See the range of PhD studentships and projects currently available.

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