All organisms live inhabit environments to which they have become adapted to, through millions of years of evolution. These organisms also have to respond to both biotic and abiotic changes within these environments. Often these changes induce some level of response in organisms. In recent times, numerous anthropogenic perturbations which have resulted in global environmental changes. These changes can modify the chemical or physical environments, or the organisms themselves. The field of environmental biology enables us to understand how organisms respond to these changes, their interactions with each other and their interaction with the environment. A wide spectrum of approaches is employed in environmental biological research ranging from molecular biology to population biology and community ecology. The environmental biology track is designed to accommodate students of various science backgrounds with rigorous training in environmental sciences/environmental biology.

The MPhil and PhD programme in Environmental Biology focuses on research related to interactions between biological systems and the environment, at the cellular, whole organism and ecosystem levels. Major areas of emphasis include environmental assessment and monitoring, biodiversity conservation, environmental microbiology, effects of pollution on living organisms, environmental health, control of vectors of human diseases, coral reef health, ecosystem services.


  • To facilitate plant/ecological/microbial biological research of a high international standard on all levels of integration (from molecules to cells; from cells to whole plants; from individual plants to ecosystems), resulting in a high-quality dissertation.
  • To organize and facilitate high-quality training and education for M.Phil. and Ph.D. candidates in the research area of Environmental Biology, bringing together different expertise areas.
  • To ensure that students can develop expertise in techniques (Monitoring and assessment) used in Environmental Biology, and make new and interesting contributions to the field on Environmental Biology.

 Entry Requirements

  • M.Phil.
    • BSc degree/major in a Life Sciences or related discipline
  • Ph.D.
    • Postgraduate degree in Environmental Biology, Biology or related discipline


  • M.Phil
    • Full-time: 2 years
    • Part-time: 3 – 4 years
  • Ph.D.
    • Full-time: 3 years
    • Part-time: 4 - 5 years

Programme Structure/Course of Study

The M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees primarily involve independent study, directed by one or more supervisors.  The programmes culminate with the presentation of a thesis conveying the results of the independent study and research carried out by the graduate student.
M.Phil. students may be considered for upgrading to the Ph.D. normally during the second year, but not after the third year of registration, on recommendation of their supervisor(s).


M.Phil./ Ph.D. Thesis and Examination

All research degrees are examined by theses.

In addition, research students will be required to pass courses amounting to a MINIMUM of

  • 6 credits for the M.Phil.
  • 9 credits for the Ph.D. degree

Graduate Research Seminars

M.Phil. students are required to present at least two seminars and Ph.D. students at least three seminars:


  • GRSM 7004 - Scientific Presentation and Critique 1
  • GRSM 7005 - Scientific Presentation and Critique 2
  • GRSM 7006 - Scientific Presentation and Critique 3


  • GRSM 8004 - Scientific Presentation and Critique 1
  • GRSM 8005 - Scientific Presentation and Critique 2
  • GRSM 8006 - Scientific Presentation and Critique 3

These seminars will be examined and graded on a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ basis. These courses may be used as a forum for these presentations which will be assessed in the manner prescribed for such “assessed seminars”.

Students are also required to attend a minimum of 75% of all Departmental/Faculty seminars. A Seminar attendance register will be kept by all Departments.

Upgrading of Registration

Postgraduate students who are registered for the M.Phil. degree and who wish to be considered for the upgrading of their registration to Ph.D. must apply to do so in the second year of registration on the written recommendation of their supervisor(s).
Applications for upgrading will normally not be considered after the third year of registration. A supervisor must state why he/she considers the student to be outstanding and whether in his/her opinion the work can be developed to the level of the Ph.D.
Applicants for upgrade must submit a written proposal outlining the work done to date and how they propose to develop this work into a Ph.D. and must defend their proposal for upgrading at an open seminar convened for this purpose.
All recommendations from Departments for Ph.D. upgrade registrations are subject to the approval of the Board for Graduate Studies and Research.


Defence of Thesis

  • For the M.Phil. degree the candidate may be required to defend his/her thesis by an examination.
  • Every candidate for the Ph.D. must defend his/her thesis by an oral examination.

A candidate who is unsuccessful in the examination for the Ph.D. may apply to the Board for Graduate Studies and Research for transfer of registration to the relevant M.Phil. and for permission to resubmit the relevant thesis or a revised version of it for examination for a Master’s degree. 

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