As with other biological sciences graduates, a significant number of Physiology graduates use their degree as a stepping-stone by enrolling for a higher degree or continuing with further education.

Some of our graduates have opted to study for a Postgraduate Diploma in Education. Physiology is a particularly strong degree for teachers. Not only will you gain a strong training in biology, you will also have an in-depth understanding of the other sciences such as chemistry, physics and mathematics which are essential in the understanding of the complexity of life.

The Department does not currently run a M.Sc. programme, but a number of our students have entered M.Sc. programmes that are available elsewhere in UCC. In particular, the M.Sc. in Applied Science (Biotechnology) course has been taken by a number of our graduates in recent years. A major component of this degree programme is a 6 month research project and a number of students have undertaken their research projects in the Physiology Department.

In recent years many of our graduates have enrolled in a wide variety of M.Sc. programmes at other Universities in Ireland and the UK in medical-related subjects such as Physiotherapy, Radiotherapy, Sports Medicine, Speech & Language Therapy and Molecular Pathology. These courses, which lead into well-paid professions, are usually restricted to graduates with degrees in the life sciences and a degree in Physiology provides an excellent foundation.

Current government policy is to develop Ireland as a knowledge-based society, so as to maintain competitiveness in the global economy. Science, technology and knowledge-driven enterprises will become increasingly important to economic success and will provide highly-skilled employment as traditional manufacturing employment departs for lower-cost countries. Developing an indigenous expertise in research & development is crucial to a knowledge-based society. As part of the strategy to develop this expertise, government policy is promoting a doubling of the number of Ph.D.s graduating from Irish Universities by 2013.

The importance of this type of postgraduate training is reflected in the fact that it is now referred to as the 4th level sector. The government is providing considerable funding to support research training in the Irish Universities via funding bodies such as Science Foundation Ireland, the Health Research Board and IRCSET. For this reason there are a large number of funded Ph.D. positions available in UCC and in other Irish Universities. If you are interested in research then undertaking a Ph.D. can be very intellectually stimulating. In addition, for the reason described above, many of the highly-skilled and highly-paid positions that will be available in the future will require a Ph.D.

If students are interested in undertaking a Ph.D. they are advised to discuss this with Departmental staff during their 4th year. Potential students should also read a Guide for PhD students (and post-docs) aiming for a successful career in science (45kB)written by Dr Georgia Chenevix-Trench from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia. This document describes the attributes required, and the day to day lifestyle, of a typical Ph.D. student. While students must also complete a number of postgraduate training modules, the generation of novel data, which advances knowledge in a particular area of research, will ultimately determine the success of the project.

Each year, there are normally a few PhD positions available within the Physiology Department (click here for current vacancies). Many Physiology B Sc. graduates have been accepted into Ph.D. programmes throughout Ireland, the UK and beyond. These positions are advertised on various websites including naturejobs, the Physiologicial Society and

Currently most Irish Ph.D. graduates continue their research careers as post-doctoral researchers in academia both in Ireland and abroad. A Ph.D. is now a pre-requisite for appointment to a lectureship position in most Universities world-wide. An increasing number are gaining employment as R & D scientists in Industry both in Ireland and abroad. The number of these positions will greatly increase in Ireland as the drive to a knowledge-based society proceeds.

Postgraduate degrees are open (subject to funding) to students who obtain a good honours degree in Physiology or a related subject (e.g. Biochemistry, Neuroscience, Biology, etc.).

PhD degrees involve the submission of a thesis based on approximately three years research on an independent project under the supervision of a Faculty member.

Funding may be available for PhDs from IRCSET. For further details contact Dr. Paddy Harrison, see vacancies and/or check with individual members of academic staff.

For further details of potential projects, please contact Prof Ken O Halloran and/or individual members of academic staff.

For an insight into a PhD in science, please consult Guide for PhD students (and post-docs) aiming for a successful career in science available at:

For further details of studying for a postgraduate degree at UCC, please consult the UCC postgradauate prospective web page.

Non EU students are also encouraged to consult the International Students Office web page for further information

Informal enquiries to: Prof Ken O Halloran

Tel: 353-21-4205874/4205866


From October 2013 all incoming PhD/PhD track students will be registering for a Structured PhD. The UCC model of structured PhD education is comprised of a programme of supportive and developmental elements, with a stated minimum level of 15 credits of coursework and training. In addition, all students will be supervised by a supervisory team, or have a sole supervisor and a PhD advisor.

For a 3 year PhD, the maximum number of credits that can be undertaken is 30 credits.

For a 4 year PhD, the maximum number of credits that can be undertaken is 90 credits

The UCC Structured PhD - Compulsory Requirements (205kB)

If you are currently registered as a student and wish to take discipline specific academic modules in 2013/14, please complete the Discipline Specific Module Form 2013 (442kB) 

Disciplinary training modules available to Physiology postgraduate students:

PL6001 Molecular and Cellular Physiology Techniques (5 credits)

PL6002 Integrated Physiology Research Methods (5 credits)

PL6003 Peer Review and Scientific Communication (5 credits)

 Over the past 10 years, a number of our graduates have registered for post-graduate degrees programmes in medicine at various Universities in the UK and have successfully qualified as doctors. From September 2008 UCC, along with other Irish universities, is introducing a Graduate Entry into Medicine programme for individuals who hold a primary degree in any discipline and would like to pursue a career in medicine.

The study of human physiology forms a major component of the 1st two years of medical training and, while this new degree programme is open to all graduates, a B.Sc. degree in Physiology will obviously provide an excellent foundation for this course. A Physiology degree followed by graduate entry into medicine will provide an alternative pathway to a career in medicine other than the highly competitive entry into an undergraduate medical degree programme.

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