SBS Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Programme (By Research)


Programme Type

Full-time, Part-time

SBS Graduate Programmes
The School of Biological Sciences is committed to implement current best practices in the training of our graduate students. Our main objective is to produce research scientists, who have deep and wide knowledge to be competitive in today’s global research and work environment. 

Our graduate students enrolled in graduate programmes by research may be admitted on a full-time or part-time basis. They will receive supervision and guidance by faculty members to conduct research projects aligned to the overall objectives of their chosen laboratories. We also provide advanced learning and hands-on training through foundation courses and practical modules.

In addition to the research work, Ph.D. students are required to complete 4 course modules (12 AUs), Research Communication for Graduate Studies, Teaching Assistantship Programme and Transferable Skills Modules within stipulated period of the Ph.D. candidature. Graduate English Course may apply to some students. The final requirements include the submission of a Ph.D. dissertation and an oral examination. 

The School of Biological Sciences has trained and graduated more than 500 Ph.D. students. Promising scholars and researchers are encouraged to apply. Prestigious scholarships will be awarded to successful applicants.
Click here to find out more on our admission requirements.
Graduate English Course may apply to some students. 

For higher degrees by research, candidates may be admitted as full-time or part-time students. The minimum and maximum periods of candidature for both full-time and part-time are as follows: find out more.


Courses Offered in Semester 1  


Course Title 

Subject Coordinator 

Foundational Course in Information Biology 

Konstantin Pervushin 

Graduate Seminar Course 

Koh Cheng Gee 

Practical Course in Protein Crystallography 

Julien Lescar 


Teaching Assistant Programme 



Graduate English Course 


Courses Offered in Semester 2


Course Title 

Subject Coordinator 

Foundational Course in Molecular & Cell Biology 

Lu Lei 

Practical Course in Multidimensional NMR spectroscopy 

Konstantin Pervushin 

​​Pract​ical Course in Electron Microscopy and image processing of macromolecular complexes 

Shashi Bhushan 

Skin Biology: Theory and Practice 

Gao Yonggui 


Hong Yan 

​Fundamentals of Immunology - Concepts and Experiments 

​Su I-Hsin 

Computational Biology and modeling 

Mu Yuguang 

Practical Course in Advanced Microscopy 

Li Hoi Yeung 


Teaching Assistant Programme 



Graduate English Course 


*Both HWG703 and HWG702 are compulsory for all full-time Ph.D. students and Graduate Research Officer.HWG703 may be exempted if you meet the exemption criteria. Students must pass both HWG702 and HWG703 before Ph.D. Confirmation / Qualifying Exam (QE) in order to receive the Research Scholarship Stipend increment. Students who are exempted for HWG703 are required to take and pass HWG702. 

Transferable Skills Programme 

Apart from research and intellectual skills, other professional skills and attributes including interpersonal skills, communication skills, and scientific writing are also integral to post-graduate training. The Transferable Skills Programme aims to impart our students with skills that are relevant to both research and future career development beyond their stint at NTU. 

College of Science (CoS) Transferable Skills Programme 

The CoS Transferable Skills programme is compulsory for full-time PhD students.  Students from AY2016 intake onwards are required to complete 4 core modules (Residential Programme, Information Research and Management, HWG704 Research Communication, Career Preparation) and 3 electives. For more information, please click here.  


Graduate College Transferable Skills Programme 

In addition to the College of Science Transferable Skills programme, the Graduate College Transferable Skills Programmeis applicable to full-time and part-time PhD students from AY2019 onwards. 

For more information, please click here. 



Early Stage 
0-12 months 

Residential Programme 

  • Effective Communication 

  • Networking 

  • Project management 

  • Relationship management 

  • Stress management 

  • Team building 

Scholarly Communication and Impact 

  • A head start seminar to develop strong foundational knowledge in the scholarly research and publishing environment. 

  • Content includes scholarly metrics in publishing, unique researcher identity, open access to research works, and research data management plan. 

  • Acquire practical skills to apply this knowledge with confidence to advance your research career.  

Mid Stage 
9-24 months 

HWG704 Research Communication for Graduate Studies 
(also a requirement by Graduate College) 

  • Conventions of research argumentation 

  • Structure of PhD theses 

  • Presentation skills in seminars and conferences 

For more information on HWG704, click here​. [Insert link] 

Late stage 
24 months onward (Year 3 onwards) 

Any GC-TSS Career Preparation Workshop/Seminar 

  • Career Management 

  • Job Search Strategies 

  • Cover letter & CV Writing 

  • ​Interview Skills​​ 

3-Minute Thesis Symposium (a requirement by Graduate College​) 
All PhD students must participate in a 3-minute thesis (3MT) presentation symposium before graduation. 

ERIC and Safety Courses 

Epigeum Research Integrity Course (ERIC)

ERI701 is a research integrity course with 0 AUs applicable to new Ph.D. and M.Sc. (Research) students who join NTU from AY2018/19. Existing graduate research students will continue to complete ERIC prior to QE following current schools’ processes. 


  • A student’s training requirement is met if he/she completes at least one track. If a student is required by the School to take multiple tracks, School administrators can check on track completion status. Transcripts will not reflect individual tracks selected.
  • If a student is required to take additional tracks after achieving a Pass grade for the course at the end of their first semester, the student can still register for other tracks on NTU Learn though course grade will not be reflected on exam transcript.
  • If there are individual queries, student can raise it to RIEO, who will then consult the Schools concerned. 

To find out more about the integrity courses, please click here. [Insert link]

Safety courses 

All new students will need to complete the (A) Safety Induction and all relevant (B) Safety Trainings applicable to them. The safety courses requirement is stated below. 


  • All the online safety training courses are available on NTULearn
  • There is a quiz at the end of each course and you are deemed to have successfully completed the quiz by scoring at least 8 correct answers out of 10 questions. The quiz allows multiple attempts. 

Kindly note that the safety training has to be done every 3 years on NTULearn (Refresher) as part of the university's requirement. 

(A) Safety Induction

  1. NTU Safety Induction for Laboratory Users (OHS2SIL01)
  2. SBS Safety Induction for Lab Users (SB2SIL01)

Timeline of completion of all the courses described above: within first two weeks of commencement of candidature in SBS. 

(B) Safety Trainings

Compulsory courses for all SBS lab users (both dry and wet lab users)

  1. Fire Safety in NTU 
  2. Electrical Safety
  3. Slip, Trip & Fall 
  4. Work station/ Office Ergonomics 
  5. Manual Lifting 
  6. Use of Fire Extinguisher 
  7. Understanding Signage from SS508 
  8. SGSECURE Prepared Citizen Training 

Compulsory courses for SBS wet lab users 

  1. Basic Biosafety Training: Module 1
  2. Basic Biosafety Training: Module 2
  3. Fume Cupboard
  4. Basic Guide for handling Chemicals
  5. Understanding GHS
  6. Understanding SDS
  7. Safe Handling of Compressed Gas Cylinders
  8. Risk Management: Introduction
  9. Risk Management: Legal Requirements
  10. Risk Management: Doing Risk Assessment
  11. Risk Management: Risk Control Measures 
Timeline of completion of all the courses described above: within first month of commencement of candidature in SBS. 

After completion, please forward a copy of your training result to your lab safety representative. 

(Note: To retrieve your training results, proceed to ‘Menu’ in ServiceNow@NTU. Select ‘Campus Services’ followed by ‘Safety Training Management System’. Under ‘My Training Records’ you can save a copy in PDF by pressing keyboard ‘ctrl’ + ‘P’) 

In addition

For ultrasonic device users (such as sonicators, ultrasonic baths, etc), please take the following courses:

  • Non-ionising Radiation: Introduction to NIR and Local Regulations
  • Non-ionising Radiation: Ultrasound Safety Training

For laser device users (such as confocal microscopes, or other equipment having laser source such as flow cytometers, etc), please take the following courses: 

  • Non-ionising Radiation: Introduction to NIR and Local Regulations
  • Non-ionising Radiation: Laser Safety Training

For those who are handling radioactive materials (such as 3H, 14C 32S, etc) or use radiation machine (such as X-ray, gamma ray), please take the following courses: 

  • Ionising Radiation: Introduction to IR and Local Regulations
  • Ionising Radiation: Hazards and Monitoring
  • Ionising Radiation: Protection and Spill Response 

For those who are handling hydrofluroic acid, please take the following course:

  • Safe Use of Hydrofluoric Acid 

NOTE: Please check with your lab safety representative with regards to the licenses required to handle mentioned equipment/ materials. 

Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC)

  1. Every new PhD student will need to form a Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) within 8 months after enrolment into the graduate programme. The TAC should comprise at least three members: the supervisor and two other faculty members. Apart from the supervisor, there should be at least one SBS faculty on the TAC. The other member could be a faculty (or principal investigator/group leader) from SBS, NTU, NUS, DUKE-NUS, A*STAR or other research institutes in Singapore. 
  2. The objective of the committee is to provide guidance to the graduate student throughout the student’s course of study. 
  3. The committee should meet the student in the 8th month, 30th month and 42nd month from the date of admission to determine the progress of the student and to provide guidance and advice. 
  4. The committee shall decide if the student has done sufficient research and has enough data for writing the final dissertation. Should there be disputes on academic matters between the student and the supervisor such as time to write the final dissertation and etc, the committee should review the progress made by the student thus far and recommend the best action. 
  5. The committee may also recommend the termination of PhD candidature if the progress made by the student is deemed minimal or unsatisfactory. 

See the recommended timeline for TAC meetings below: 


Ph.D. Candidature Confirmation (QE)

  1. The PhD Qualifying Examination (QE) is an important and integral part of the overall assessment of every PhD candidate. 
  2. Every PhD student has to pass the QE which is arranged and conducted by the respective Schools typically at around 18th month, but not exceeding 24th month from the commencement of the student’s PhD candidature. The timing of the Qualifying Examination may be initiated by the supervisor or by the School. Note: The student needs to achieve a cGPA of 3.5 and above before he/she can proceed to sit for the QE. 
  3. Under the guidance of the student’s supervisor, he/she should submit a succinct QE report to members of the QE panel at least one month before the date of the QE presentation. The QE panel can direct the student to amend the report to the satisfaction of the supervisor/co-supervisor. 
  4. Members of the QE panel for PhD students should be holding a PhD qualification or its equivalent doctoral research degrees. Nominations of QE Panel are to be approved by the School Associate Chair (Graduate Studies). 
  5. The Qualifying Examination panel should consist of at least 3 independent members who are appointed by the Associate Chair (Graduate Studies). The Chairman, whose role is that of the representative of the Associate Chair (Graduate Studies), should be a senior faculty staff who is an Associate Professor or above. The other internal members of the QE panel can be tenured or tenure-track faculty staff. NTU’s lecturers and senior lecturers cannot serve as members of the QE panel. 
  6. The other two independent members of QE panel may be members of the Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) provided there is no conflict of interest and that these TAC members do not have joint publications with the PhD candidate. The supervisor and co-supervisor cannot be members of the QE panel. In the case of IPP funded students, the Industry TAC member may participate in the QE without being a voting member. 
  7. The role of the QE panel is to establish that the student has a realistic programme of study and research (with intermediate objectives) on a topic that offers sufficient scope for research training and which is likely to prove an intellectually rewarding investigation that can be expected to produce sufficient results for submission of an acceptable thesis in the time designated for the degree. 
  8. It is not a requirement for the PhD student to publish any journal paper prior to the Qualifying Examination. 

See the QE flow chart below: