Doctoral Studies

Parasiteology - Field

Brief description of field

The Doctoral Study Programme in Parasitology is a complex scientific discipline focussing on the studies of all aspects of the host-parasite system. The doctoral study in the field of Parasitology at the Faculty of Science, MU, is therefore conceived so that the students become acquainted with the various aspects of parasitism, namely by studying of morphological and molecular diversity of parasites, parasite adaption at the different levels (morphological, physiological, biochemical and behavioral), ecological relationships at the levels of host-parasite or parasite-parasite, evolutionary processes in the host-parasite system, host immune response to parasite infection, molecular interaction in host-parasite system, and the application of parasitology in veterinary and human medicine. The doctoral theses are addressed to the specific questions within one of the thematic topics (see below) in the following areas: diversity and phylogeny of parasitic organisms, evolutionary ecology, molecular ecology of parasites, cell biology of parasites, molecular biology of parasites, immunology, parasite biochemistry or applied parasitology.

Profile of a typical graduate

The graduate’s profile is largely determined by the specific goals of the doctoral thesis, which should prepare the graduate for independent scientific work or practice in the field. Graduates are prepared for work in the institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and in the institutes of ministry, education, health, veterinary medicine, but also in the governmental sectors and private companies. A graduate of DSP parasitology focused on the specific problems within his/her doctoral thesis, he/she is able to discuss with experts on the field at the international level, to solve independently the thematically similar or related issues, to search for the solution of tasks using adequate methods. He/she is able to present his/her results in the form of scientific papers published in international and national journals, as well as in the form of active presentation in the scientific forums.

Requirements for applicants

A basic prerequisite for admission to the Doctoral Study Programme in Parasitology is a completed study in biology at the masters level (degree of Mgr./MSc., or Ing. in biological fields, preferably with one of the following specialization: zoologist, evolutionary biologist, ecologist, general biologist, molecular biologist or the graduate of veterinary medicine). The entrance examination is organized as an interview, when the committee evaluates and assigns points for the applicant’s expertise and abilities for scientific work (0-200 points) and skills in English language (0-100 points). Minimum requirements for successfully passed the entrance examination are 120 points for scientific part and 60 points for language part. In the scientific part, the applicant’s ability of scientific work, her/his general scope of knowledge in parasitology and in the field related to the topic of doctoral thesis, and her/his own idea of how to tackle the subject of the dissertation are examined. The student will present the content, the main goals and the methodical approaches applied in solving the tasks in doctoral thesis. The admission procedure will be attended by future doctoral supervisor who will provide the information on the financial support for the research carried out in the doctoral thesis. The scientific part of the examination tests the knowledge of general parasitology and a basic overview of parasitic groups. The level of knowledge required corresponds to the courses of a master's degree program for parasitology specialization at the Department of Botany and Zoology of the Faculty of Science. The language part of the examination takes place in form of a conversation about the specialization, achievements of the applicant’s research, her/his professional CV and similar topics.

Study requirements and completion of studies

The students have to fulfil their obligations at the Department of Botany and Zoology. In case they have an external supervisor or based on their specialization they might also realize their doctoral thesis at specific institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (in this case, supervisor approval is necessary). Studying without the student’s permanent presence at one of these institutions is only possible in case of a combined form of study (without a scholarship). In case of a regular (“attendance”) study it is also possible to study partially abroad, for instance under dual supervision. In such a case the thesis can also be defended at the foreign institution, provided the conditions given by the Study and Examination Rules of Masaryk University are met.

Individual study plan

Doctoral study is organized as the Individual Study Plan (ISP), which is updated and specified before each semester by a student and confirmed by his/her supervisor. ISP should allow to successfully graduate within standard duration of the study, and during the first six semesters allow to student receive all necessary credits for (i) exams from advanced courses, (ii) active participation at specialized seminars, (iii) demonstration of good English skills (e.g. lecture at scientific forum), and (iv) for teaching and eventual other duties. During the 5th or 6th semester, it is recommended that the student requests the theoretical state doctoral exam, and ISPs for following semesters preferentially include work on doctoral research project and thesis. For students in a combined form, ISPs are prepared correspondingly and may contain alternative duties or tasks such as preparation of special lecture to seminar, literature research, preparation of materials for lectures or training courses, help with organization of summer schools, or similar activities. Progress and performance according to ISP is evaluated after each semester. In case that the student does not fulfil the obligations of his/her ISP, the supervisor and/or doctoral committee can disagree with continuation of student’s study. Additional to the fulfilment of all obligations listed in the ISP, the student has to submit upon completion of her/his studies a review of the study topic (it is recommended to fulfil this condition during the first year of the study) and to document at least one active participation in an international scientific symposium with her/his own oral presentation in English, always followed up by a discussion (this condition should be fulfilled before the doctoral examination and defending the thesis). When preparing and fulfilling the ISP, the student cooperates with the supervisor. The DSP student's plan takes precedence over the academic year's timetable. In addition to the fulfilment of all requirements listed in the ISP (see below), the student in the first year prepares a review of the topics related to his/her doctoral thesis and a brief informative presentation at a specialized (e.g. Zoological and/or Parasitological) seminar on the topic of doctoral thesis. At least once per the period of doctoral study, the student presents the results of his/her doctoral thesis at the Zoological seminar of the Department of Botany and Zoology. It is also highly recommended to make a stay abroad for at least 2 months.

Controlling of the study and its due completion

The supervisor controls the fulfillment of the student's obligations stipulated by the individual study plan and prepares a written evaluation at the end of each semester. In the case of a DSP parasitology committee meeting, students have the obligation to report on the course of their studies and to prepare a summary of the study and the plans for the future. In addition to fulfilling all the obligations stated in the individual study plan, the student must demonstrate at least one active participation in a specialized international conference (see above). The student must be actively publishing and has to have at least two papers published or accepted for publication (related to the topic of doctoral thesis) in a journal with an assigned IF (included in the Thomson Reuters - Web of Science database), for both papers the student is in the position of the first author. It is strongly recommended that the number of publications submitted in the doctoral thesis should follow the standard of the currently submitted doctoral thesis of DSP parasitology. Another important criterion for the assessment of the doctoral thesis is the quality of the publications. The regular completion of the doctoral study is governed by the Higher Education Act and the Study and Examination Rules of Masaryk University.

Doctoral thesis requirements

The doctoral thesis has to be an original work created during the doctoral study under guidance of the supervisor. It can follow up on results of the student’ previous studies, these, however, have to be clearly specified, for instance by references. Upon submission of the doctoral thesis, at least some part of the results obtained during the doctoral study must be published or accepted for publication in a scientific journal with an impact factor (see above) and the scientific community must be informed about the results and conclusions achieved by doctoral thesis (active presentation at an international symposium, see above). The doctoral thesis is written in Czech, Slovak or English, the latter language is preferred. There is no defined extent, the high scientific level is the most important criterion. Depending on the number and quality of the publications, it is possible to submit the doctoral thesis in two forms. (1) The thesis should consist of abstract, background, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion and list of references. The published and accepted papers should be included.  (2) If the number and / or quality of the publications exceeds the standard for doctoral thesis in the DSP parasitology, according to Article 30/2 of the Study Regulations, a doctoral thesis submitted in the form of a set of publications is recommended and preferred. Doctoral thesis in this form must be endowed with unifying and exhaustive scientific commentary on the relevant topic in order to create a logically coherent work, including relevant references. The form of doctoral thesis will be decided by the supervisor upon agreement with the student. In case of results obtained by team-work, the dissertation has to include (according to paragraph 30/4 b-c) a specification of the student’s contribution. A hardback cover that cannot be taken apart is prescribed. The doctoral thesis is submitted in at least three copies and also in electronic form in the MU’s Information System. At the end of the doctoral thesis there is a list of all publications and a professional CV of the student. Usually the doctoral thesis is evaluated by two reviewers that hold at least a Ph.D. or an equivalent degree (CSc., Dr.).

Content and scope of the state (national) doctoral examination

The State (national) Doctoral Examination (SDE) takes into account the student’s field of study and subject of doctoral thesis, but the members of the SDE Committee may ask any related topic concerning the parasitology background. Additional to knowledge connected to the doctoral student’s own research work, the examination is focused on broader knowledge of parasitology and also on the field related to the topic of doctoral thesis i.e. one of the following field: taxonomy and phylogeny, ecology, epidemiology, evolutionary biology, cell biology, molecular biology, immunology or biochemistry. This is in particular the examination of the student's overall view, a detailed knowledge of the topics related to the doctoral thesis, the ability to work independently in the field and his/her awareness of the latest knowledge in the field.

General topics for PhD thesis

  • Morphology, molecular diversity and phylogeny of selected parasite groups
  • Coevolution in host-parasite system
  • Histology, immunohistology and pathogeny in selected parasite groups
  • Host immune system reflecting parasite load
  • Evolutionary-ecological aspects of parasitism in the selected host-parasite systems
  • Host-specific parasites in the studies of history and biogeography of fish hosts
  • Analyses of functional molecules in the host-parasite interactions
  • Parasitism in hominids and antiparasitic behaviour
  • Parasites of invasive host species
  • Parasitism in commercial fish

Individual study plan

An individual study plan is compiled to include:

  1. Courses enlarging and deepening the knowledge of the broader discipline beyond the scope of study in the Master's program. The doctoral student enrols in these courses following the recommendations of supervisor. The student enrols the courses in the first to fourth semesters, each of these semesters usually undergoes one course belonging to this category.
  2. Courses enlarging the specialization knowledge. These courses are enrolled by the DSP student according to their own interest, always after consultation with the supervisor. The items are selected from the home faculty offer or other workplaces that have accreditation to teach in the DSP, including foreign ones. The student passes the courses in the first to sixth semesters, he/she enrols maximum two specialized courses in one semester.
  3. Courses improving the student’s language skills. Student proves his/her ability of active scientific communication in the field of study through an English language test and/or in another appropriate way, e.g. by an oral presentation in English at an international conference.
  4. The student is obligatory attending the Parasitological Seminar for 6 semesters. It is also recommended to attend the Zoological Seminar for 4 semesters. The supervisor may also advise the attendance of other seminars. In the justified cases, for instance in case of a combined study or of foreign students, the supervisor may suggest an alternative form of this activity.
  5. Preparation and assistance in teaching activities of the programmes of bachelor and master studies. The student participates in preparing and/or assisting of practical courses in cooperation with the responsible teacher. The minimum scope of this engagement is two teaching hours per week from the first to fourth semester or a corresponding equivalent in practical courses realized in the form of block education.

List of members of doctoral committee

List of supervisors

Commission for state doctoral exams and defenses

List of current doctoral topics

Department pages

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