Abstract Molecular Structure

The skeletal muscle epigenome and metabolism

Eligibility: UK/International (including EU) graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/International (including EU at international rates from Sept 21)

Duration: Full-time – between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 25 October 2023

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: January 2024

To find out more about the project, please contact Professor Sean McGee (Deakin) or Dr Mark C Turner (Coventry University).


This PhD project is part of the Cotutelle arrangement between Coventry University, UK and Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.

The successful applicant will spend the first year at Deakin University, the following year at Coventry University, and then the final 1.5 years at Deakin University

The supervision team will be drawn from the two universities.

Project details

This is a doctoral Cotutelle project between Deakin University (Australia) and Coventry University (United Kingdom).

The successful PhD student will be awarded a scholarship from Deakin University with the supervision team being drawn from Deakin University and Coventry University. The PhD student will graduate with two testamurs, one from Deakin University and one from Coventry University, each of which recognises that the program was carried out as part of a jointly supervised doctoral program. The program is for a duration four years with the project scheduled to commence in January 2024.

The PhD student is anticipated to spend up to 12 months of the total period of the program at Coventry University, with the remainder of the program based at Deakin University.

The project will examine the role of epigenome enzymes in skeletal muscle in metabolic diseases. Alterations in the skeletal muscle epigenome contribute to impairments in muscle metabolism in metabolic diseases (Barres & Zierath, 2011; James et al., 2021). Under the supervision of Professor Sean McGee (Deakin University) and Dr Mark Turner (Coventry University) and, this project will investigate how epigenome enzymes, particularly histone deacetlases, are implicated in the aetiology of metabolic disease, and how lifestyle factors can modulate these changes in these enzymes.

Using a range of molecular biology techniques to explore the epigenetic modifications in physiological and pathophysiological conditions, the project will seek to answer the following questions:

  • Are there differences in histone deacetylase enzyme function between healthy individuals and patients with metabolic disease?
  • How are histone deacetylases effected by exogenous factors?

How do changes in histone deacetylases regulate skeletal muscle metabolism and mass?


Funding includes tuition fees, a bursary (£18,622 p/a), and additional allowances.


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities. 

  • Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate
  • International students only: Single Overseas Student Health Cover policy for the duration of the student visa.
  • Full tuition fee waiver for up to four years
  • Funding to support travel of PhD student between Deakin University and Coventry University

Candidate specification

Applicants must meet the admission and scholarship criteria for both Coventry University and Deakin University for entry to the cotutelle programme.  

This includes:

  • Applicants should have graduated within the top 15% of their undergraduate cohort. This might include a high 2:1 in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 70% mark (80% for Australian graduates) in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 70% overall module average (80% for Australian graduates). 
  • A Masters degree in a relevant subject area, with overall mark at minimum Merit level. In addition, the mark for the Masters dissertation (or equivalent) must be a minimum of 80%. Please note that where a candidate has 70-79% and can provide evidence of research experience to meet equivalency to the minimum first-class honours equivalent (80%+) additional evidence can be submitted and may include independently peer-reviewed publications, research-related awards or prizes and/or professional reports. 
  • Language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component).  
  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a prescribed period of study.  

For an overview of each university’s entry requirements please visit:  

Please note that it is essential that applicants confirm that they are able to physically locate to both Coventry University (UK) and Deakin University (Australia).

How to apply

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus an up to 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project. 

All candidates must apply to both universities.

To find out more about the project please contact Professor Sean McGee (Deakin) or Dr Mark C Turner (Coventry University).

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