Faculty of Natural Sciences Research Degrees

The Faculty of Natural Sciences comprises Aquaculture; Biological & Environmental Sciences; Computing Science & Mathematics; Computing Science & Mathematics; and Psychology.

Taught Programmes

The Faculty of Natural Sciences has a wide range of taught postgraduate programmes.

World-leading Research

In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in 2008 the Institute of Aquaculture, was given an RAE rating of 2.45 and was graded the top aquaculture department in the UK. 40% of research in Biological & Environmental Sciences was graded as Internationally Excellent or World Class and a further 50% Internationally Recognised. 90% of research in Computing Science & Mathematics was graded as Internationally Excellent, with the top five percent of that judged to be World-leading. 70% of research in Psychology at Stirling was recognised as being of a quality that is Internationally Recognised in terms of originality, significance and rigour.


The Institute of Aquaculture works closely with the UK Aquaculture Industry and has an international reputation in research and postgraduate taught programmes. Aquaculture at Stirling provides a supportive and stimulating environment with extensive research facilities and strong overseas links.

Biological & Environmental Sciences

Biological & Environmental Sciences offers research degree programmes, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Master of Philosophy (MPhil), within our three research clusters: Ecological and Environmental Processes; Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation; Geoarchaeology and Environmental History.

Computing Science & Mathematics

We are committed to internationally excellent research in Computing Science and Mathematics relevant to industry, commerce or quality of life. Collaboration with external organisations stimulates research through real problems and allows results to be validated on realistic applications.


We offer a programme of taught postgraduate / MSc programmes that combine generic research methods training with more specialised advanced modules and practical placements in order to meet your personal development goals. We also welcome applications for research degrees within any of our key research areas (see list below). All postgraduates are considered integral members of our research community and we provide excellent support and facilities, including an in-house playgroup and psychological imaging laboratory.

Research Opportunities


Health and Welfare

Research within the group encompasses many aspects of the identification, prevention and control of aquatic diseases to enhance the sustainability and productivity of aquaculture worldwide. Major research topics include: epidemiology; pathology; immunology; diagnostics and pathogen biology; and fish welfare.

Aquaculture: Genomics, Proteomics and Reproduction

Research in the group contributes to improving aquaculture productivity through the development of stock management strategies and selective breeding programmes, and the study of biomarkers to measure pollutant effects.

Aquaculture: Nutrition and Aquaculture

Nutritional biochemistry research centres on the metabolism and role of lipids in the nutrition and development of fish and their quality as food for humans. The use of environmentally sustainable substitutes for fishmeal in aquaculture diets and the use of indigenous low cost materials for tropical species are important research topics.

Aquaculture: Sustainable Aquaculture

The group has a multidisciplinary focus for optimised aquatic resource management and sustainable aquaculture. With a strong international perspective on ethical aquaculture; environmental management, livelihoods, financial management, marketing, GIS and engineering are just part of our toolkit for sustainable aquatic production.

Biological & Environmental Sciences

Ecological and Environmental Processes

Soils, ecosystems ecology, cell science, environmental radioactivity, hydroecology and fluvial geomorphology.

Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation

Behavioural and evolutionary ecology, population genetics, ecology and conservation of endangered species.

Geoarchaeology and Environmental History

The University is internationally recognised for its geoarchaeology and environmental history research programmes that seek to understand the complex relationships between societies and environments in the past.

See information on Biological and Environmental Sciences current postgraduate projects and funding

Computing Science & Mathematics

Applied Formal Methods

Practical techniques; tools for supporting the development of correct systems (hardware and software); theoretical aspects; application to biological and medical systems.

Computational Intelligence

New techniques based on biology and naturally-occurring systems are applied to problems in a wide range of disciplines, from neural systems to control systems to dementia diagnosis.

Communications and Service Engineering

Creation and deployment of software-based communications services; traditional telephony and new developments in internet telephony; home networks; care delivery; web services; grid computing; sensor networks; peer to peer networks; presence and availability; policy-based control.

Care Technology

A multi-disciplinary research group spanning Computing Science, Mathematics, Management, Nursing and Midwifery, and Psychology, with research interests including medical, home monitoring, decision making, safety-critical medical systems and interfaces for computer users with impairments.

Mathematical Biology

Applied mathematics research at Stirling is centred on the Mathematical Biology Research Group. We work on: the dynamics and control of infectious diseases in animals and plants; scaling from individuals up to population-level behaviour; Bayesian parameter estimation techniques for stochastic models; models of contact networks; evolution of populations and age/stage structured population dynamics.


Psychology research falls into several broad categories each of which is associated with a core area of psychological research: Behaviour and Evolution; Health and Social; Cognitive Neuroscience; Perception; and Developmental.

Centre for Memory & Learning in the Lifespan (CMLL)

The Centre for Memory & Learning in the Lifespan brings academic research in neuropsychology, developmental psychology, health, and education to the attention of the wider public.

Centre for Health and Behaviour Change (CHBC)

There is a thriving, internationally recognised health and social psychology research group in Psychology; the largest core-funded health research group in Scotland.

Stirling Suicidal Behaviour Research Group (SBRG)

The Stirling Suicidal Behaviour Research Group (SBRG), the only dedicated suicide research group in Scotland, is located within the Centre for Health and Behaviour Change.

Developmental Research

Developmental researchers work closely with the Psychology Department preschool playgroup (3-4yr olds) and parent-toddler group (newborn-3yr olds). This includes both mainstream and special needs schooling.

Behaviour and Evolution Research Group

Research on behaviour and evolution has been a distinctive feature of the Department for many years and covers a broad range of topics across a wide range of species, including humans, nonhuman primates, elephants and birds.

Cognitive Neuroscience Research Group

The Cognitive Neuroscience group investigates the functional and neural basis of mental processing, with particular emphasis on cognitive and perceptual processes. Our research is distinctive for encompassing a wide variety of methodologies.

Face and Development of Communication Research Group

The researchers in this group are interested in a variety of topics relating to communication including development of language, and the importance of faces in human interaction.

Research Proposals

Applicants applying for an advertised project are not required to provide a research proposal.

Research Proposal for Aquaculture

Applicants who have secured their own funding should provide an indication of their subject areas of interest to support their application.

Research Proposal for Biological and Environmental Sciences

If you are an applicant who has secured your own funding you should provide a 1,000-word outline of your proposed project to support your application.

Research Proposal for Psychology

For PhD applications, in the first instance applicants should contact an appropriate supervisor to discuss the feasibility of their proposed research. Formal applications should include a research proposal covering the background to the proposed research, questions addressed, methodological approaches and approximate timelines. Before commencing the research there will be further opportunity to revise and refine the proposal with the support of an academic supervisor.

Entrance Requirements to the Faculty of Natural Sciences

The entrance requirement is normally a good upper second class or first class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject, from an institution recognised by the University of Stirling. Mature students with a lower class of degree may be accepted for research in Computing Science if they have substantial work experience of computing.

English Language Requirements

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 (minimum in each skill), or TOEFL: Listening 23, Reading 23, Speaking 23, Writing 23.

Mode of Study

Research Degrees start in October but may start throughout the year:

  • PhD: normally three years, full time
  • MPhil: normally two years, full time

Part time study is available over a longer period.

Contact details

Aquaculture Research Programme Contact
Professor Brendan McAndrew
Tel: +44 (0) 1786 467884
Email: aquaculture@stir.ac.uk

Computing Science & Mathematics Research Programme Contact
Professor Evan Magill
Tel: +44 (0) 1786 467425
Email: evan.magill@cs.stir.ac.uk

Biological & Environmental Sciences Research Programme Contact
Dr Jacqueline Nairn
Tel: +44 (0) 1786 467821
Email: jn2@stir.ac.uk

Psychology Research Programme Contact
Linda Cullen
Postgraduate Secretary
Tel: +44 (0) 1786 467640
Email: psych-enquiries@stir.ac.uk

Student Viewpoints

'I owe a lot to the lecturers for giving me a solid foundation on which to build my career.'
Jill Ireland
PhD Computing Science and Mathematics
Senior Analyst, Department of Risk & Analytics, HBOS

'Coming from the south-east of England I was a little daunted to enter the 'Heart of Scotland'! I have not regretted a moment. Brimming with expertise, passion and an excellent support system, your skills and knowledge will be honed and enhanced. In short, Psychology at Stirling offers an excellent opportunity for professional and personal development.'
Miquela Elsworth
MSc Psychological Research Methods 2009/2010

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