Entrance Interview

The basic prerequisite is the completion of a Master degree in physiological, biochemical, or molecular biological fields, and high professional knowledge of these fields. Before submitting the application for study, the candidates are expected to contact the respective Supervisor and preliminarily mutually clarify the conditions and requirements for the study and work (see the list of Supervisors below).

The doctoral committee will then nominate at least a three-member admission board which will check the candidates’ professional capacities in an entrance interview that is conducted in English.

The candidates submit a structured CV and in the course of the interview, they will present a brief proposal of their PhD project. A written plan of the candidate’s suggested PhD project is mandatory and will be submitted to the board. Recommended length of the plan is two pages and the structure is as follows: Title, Name of applicant, Name of supervisor, Home institution, Synopsis, Aims, Methodology, Financial covering. The candidate will define the anticipated outputs, and suggest a methodical procedure. In a discussion with the admission board and in the presence of the supervisor the candidates have to demonstrate that their respective PhD topic is scientifically well-grounded and experimentally manageable. A necessary prerequisite for admission is a demonstrable capability of professional conversation in English. The sufficient financial coverage of the candidate’s scientific project will be assessed by the admission board within the terms of the entrance interview and further within the terms of the PhD Workshop in the 3rd semester (see further below).

The admission board assesses the candidates’ knowledge and prerequisites for the independent scientific work (0-200 points) and the capability of communication in English (0-100 points). To be admitted, the candidate must obtain at least 120 points in the professional and at least 60 points in the language part of the interview.


Study Requirements and Completion of Studies

The PhD program Animal Physiology, Immunology and Developmental Biology is based on the Masaryk University Study and Examination Regulations, where the conditions of the credit system and study completion are stipulated.

During the first semester of the study, a student in cooperation with the supervisor prepares an Individual Study Plan (ISP) in IS MUNI system that covers: description of the student´s research topic, objectives, suggested methods and time plan. The ISP is then approved by the Programme Board.

The student also prepares individual study (sub)plans for particular semesters – the student plans the research activities and objectives for the upcoming semester (in IS MUNI system) and enrols in courses according to the requirements for the PhD study as described below (enrolment in IS MUNI system + filling the form that is then approved by the supervisor and submitted to the study department, find the form in Documents).

ISP implementation is evaluated at the end of each semester. If the student does not meet the ISP conditions, the supervisor or the Program Board may express disagreement with proceeding to the following semester.

See the formal requirements for your study plans below or summarized in Documents. To pass to the next semester, you need to earn either 20 credits for the current semester or 45 credits for the last two semesters. For the study period, the student is obliged to obtain a volume of credits equal to the number of semesters x 30 credits during the studies. Thus, in 4 years of the standard study period, you need to earn 240 credits.


The fundamental obligations of the study are divided into 9 categories:

1. Research, dissertation project

Literature search of the actual state of the topic, planning and the scientific activities itself.

Obligations for completion of studies:

  • Enrol in each semester of your study and get the credits for:
    • XD100: Ph.D. Thesis (obligatory in each semester, 25 ECTS for semesters 1-4, 30 ECTS for semesters 5-8, 20 ECTS for semesters 9+; The total credit value of XD100: Ph.D. Thesis during the study should be between one-half and two-thirds of the minimum credit value of the study, i.e. 120-160 credits for a four-year study.)
    • XD101: Literature Study (obligatory in each semester)
    • Journal Clubs: Bi9904/Bi9905 – Animal Physiology I, II; Bi9908/Bi9909 – Developmental Biology I, II; Bi9911/Bi9912 – Immunology (labmeetings, obligatory for 8 semesters, choose the journal club according to your specialisation)
  • Pass the PhD Workshop at the end of the 3rd semester (see the details below)
  • Pass the State Doctoral Exam (see the details below)
  • Submit and defend the PhD thesis (see the details below)
2. Theoretical courses

Identify your knowledge gaps and plan corresponding courses, trainings & workshops (at MUNI or outside). Minimum 2 credited courses on advanced methods related to your research topic are required during semesters 1-6 (selection can be updated for each semester).

Obligations for completion of studies – enrol and get credits for:

  • Bi1160: Courses on Advanced Methods for PhD Students corresponding with your research topic (2 courses obligatory, by the end of the 6th semester; it can be either a semester course or a specialized workshop corresponding with your research topic). This coded course (Bi1160) is introduced to give you a chance to attend any course on advanced methods even though it is outside MUNI or is not valued with credits. Consider the course Bi1160 just as a check-up of completion of the advanced methods courses.

    You will be given the credits for the course retrospectively, please follow these steps:

    1) Attend any course that is relevant for your PhD project.

    2) At the end of the semester, in “feedback on term content (zpětná vazba k semestrální náplni)”, specify which course you have attended (what course, where, when).

    3) Ask an assistant for PhD studies, Ing. Simona Kopalová (kopalova@sci.muni.cz), for a retrospective registration of the course Bi1160. Ing. Kopalová will check that you have filled in the information in the feedback on term content and will register the course for you.

    4) Your supervisor will then give you the credits.

In case you choose to attend a course at MUNI: register for the chosen course, at the end of the semester, in “feedback on term content”, specify which course you attended (name and code of the course), ask an assistant for PhD studies for retrospective registration for Bi1160, etc.

XD010/XD011: MU Life Sciences Seminar (obligatory for 8 semesters, 6 attendances per semester required, note: If the student is more than a half of the semester on a working stay abroad, he/she is not obliged to enrol in the course; if the stay lasts less than the half of the semester, the required number of attendance will be reduced in proportion to how long the stay abroad is. If the student attends an equivalent course abroad, it can be accepted as substitution of XD010/XD011 and the student can get the credits for XD010/XD011.)

3. Publications

The thesis should be based on minimum of 2 papers demonstrating the quality and independence of the student.

Obligations for completion of studies:

  • Enrol and get credits for XD105: Scientific Publication Writing (obligatory for 2 semesters)

Minimum criteria for publications:

  • 1 paper as a first author in the journal in Q1 or Q2 according to Journal Citation Reports
  • at least 1 more paper as co-author (obligatory minimum but for a good grade you need more)

Note! In your publications, you have to indicate the affiliation of Department of Experimental Biology, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Brno, 62500, Czech Republic. Otherwise, the publication may not be accepted by the Doctoral Committee. Multiple affiliations (for example, when your PhD project is supervised under a different institution) are acceptable.

4. Presentation

Obligations for completion of studies:

Get credits for Bi1165: English talk of PIDBA PhD students (presentation of results on scientific seminars, symposia, conferences, etc.; obligatory once per study period, by the end of the 6th semester);

You will be given the credits for the course retrospectively, please follow these steps:

1) Give a talk in English at a conference, sceintific seminar, etc.

2) At the end of the semester, in “feedback on term content (zpětná vazba k semestrální náplni)”, specify the talk (title, where and when).

3) Ask an assistant for PhD studies, Ing. Simona Kopalová (kopalova@sci.muni.cz), for a retrospective registration of the course Bi1165. Ing. Kopalová will check that you have filled in the information in the feedback on term content and will register the course for you.

4) Your supervisor will then give you the credits.

5. Doctoral seminars

Obligations for completion of studies:

  • Enrol in each semester of the standard study period and get the credits for:
    • Bi0100/Bi0101: Seminar for PhD. Students I, II (obligatory for 8 semesters, 3 attendances per semester required)
6. Teaching assistance

Assistance with courses, exercises, advising undergrad students and other activities connected to teaching. The expected workload is approx. 100 hours through the study period required during semesters 1-4.

Obligations for completion of studies:

  • Enrol and get credits for XD102: Teaching Assistance (obligatory for 2 semesters, by the end of the 4th semester)
7. Further improving of English competences

Attending courses, seminars, conferences, writing publications, all in English.

No formal check needed, included in parts 1. Research, dissertation project, 3. Publications and 4. Presentation.

8. Stay or internship abroad

Mandatory participation in international collaboration.

Obligations for completion of studies:

  • Enrol and get credits for XD110: Placement Abroad (obligatory according to government regulation!). The required minimum is 1 month but 3+ months are preferred (should be completed by the end of the 8th semester). Discuss the options of stay abroad with your supervisor. Also, see the options of financing of your stay at Centre for International Cooperation of MUNI. Possible exceptions will be discussed individually.
9. Career development

Preparation and management of projects, scientific writing, communication, other soft-skills.

Obligations for completion of studies:

  • Enrol and get the credits for:
    • C7777: Handling Chemical Substances (obligatory in every autumn semester in the standard study period)
    • Bi1150: Softskills course for PhD students (1 course per study period obligatory, complete by the end of the 4th semester).

      This coded course (Bi1150) is introduced to give you a chance to attend any course on soft skills/career development even though it is outside MUNI or is not valued with credits. Consider the course Bi1150 just as a check-up of completion of soft skills/career development course.

      You will be given the credits for the course retrospectively, please follow these steps:

      1) Attend any course on softskills (ethics in science, grant writing, publication writing,…).

      2) At the end of the semester, in “feedback on term content (zpětná vazba k semestrální náplni)”, specify which course you have attended (what course, where, when).

      3) Ask an assistant for PhD studies, Ing. Simona Kopalová (kopalova@sci.muni.cz), for a retrospective registration of the course Bi1160. Ing. Kopalová will check that you have filled in the information in the feedback on term content and will register the course for you.

      4) Your supervisor will then give you the credits.

      In case you choose to attend a course at MUNI: register for the chosen course, at the end of the semester, in “feedback on term content”, specify which course you attended (name and code of the course), ask an assistant for PhD studies for retrospective registration for Bi1150, etc.

      The courses on soft skills offered at MUNI varies in time, please check the current offer and consult with your supervisor.

    • Bi1155: Practical training for PhD students of PIDBA is obligatory once per study period, minimum duration 2 weeks, by the end of the 6th semester.

      Practical training means a stay in another laboratory than where you work on your PhD project. The purpose of the Practical Training is to see another working environment, different methods, and approaches used by colleagues in other research groups (it can be either a research group at universities/institutes or at a commercial company).

      It is your own responsibility to arrange the Practical Training. Ask your friends and colleagues if they can help you to arrange the stay in their research group. Discuss the options also with your supervisor. After the Practical Training, get confirmation about your stay from the host laboratory and write down a 1-page report about what you have learned (Is there something that works in the other lab better than at your place? You can suggest some improvements to the lab when you work on your PhD project.) Upload the report + confirmation from the host laboratory into IS – Document Server.

      You will be given the credits for the course retrospectively, please follow these steps:

      1) Arrange a Practical Training in another laboratory than where you work on your PhD project. Complete the Practical Training.

      2) At the end of the semester, in “feedback on term content (zpětná vazba k semestrální náplni)”, specify in which laboratory you have spent your Practical Training (which supervisor/group, where, when).

      3) Ask an assistant for PhD studies, Ing. Simona Kopalová (kopalova@sci.muni.cz), for a retrospective registration of the course Bi1155. Ing. Kopalová will check that you have filled in the information in the feedback on term content and on Document Server in IS and will register the course for you.

      4) Your supervisor will then give you the credits.


Check-Points of Your Study:

PhD Workshop (3rd Semester)

At the end of the 3rd semester, you have to present your project to the Programme Board at the PhD Workshop.

In your presentation (15 minutes) you should:

  • introduce your hypotheses, goals and applied methods
  • prove your knowledge
  • present your first preliminary results
  • suggest further steps

The presentation is followed by a discussion (10 minutes) with the Programme Board.

 

The Programme Board assesses the level of student´s presentation and discussion:

1) Overall knowledge of the topic including context and meaning

2) Ability to explain and present their work

3) Knowledge of the hypothesis, methods of solution and alternatives

4) Knowledge of experimental techniques

5) Formal aspects of the presentation

 

The members of the board will approve or disapprove the submitted project and the level of subsequent discussion. In case of disapproval, the student has to present his/her project and results again next year. If the student fails again, the board will propose further steps in the project or will propose termination of the study.

You can enrol and get credits for: XD104: Literature Research (credits given by the supervisor as a part of the preparation for the PhD workshop).

 

State Doctoral Exam (SDE)

The student may take the SDE at the earliest in the 5th semester of study and after fulfilling the above-described obligations. The table below summarizes the mandatory obligations, their required minimum and timing. Exceptions in justified cases are approved by the Programme Board.

Obligatory course

Required minimum

Recommended to fulfil by the end of

XD100 Ph.D. Thesis

Every semester

8th semester

XD101 Literature Study

Every semester

8th semester

XD102 Teaching Assistance

2 semesters

4th semester

XD105 Scientific Publication Writing

2 semesters

8th semester

XD106 Lecture in the Foreign Language

1 semester

6th semester

XD109 Practical Training

1 semester

6th semester

XD110 Placement Abroad

1 semester

8th semester

Bi1150 Softskills course for PhD students

1 semester

4th semester

Bi1160 Advanced Methods for PhD Students

2 semesters

6th semester

Bi0100 Seminar for PhD. Students I

4 semesters

8th semester

Bi0101 Seminar for PhD. Students II

4 semesters

8th semester

XD010 MU Life Sciences Seminar   

4 semesters

8th semester

XD011 MU Life Sciences Seminar   

4 semesters

8th semester

Journal Clubs according to your specialisation:

 

 

Bi9904 Journal Club – Animal Physiology I

4 semesters

8th semester

Bi9905 Journal Club – Animal Physiology II

4 semesters

8th semester

Bi9908 Journal Club – Developmental Biology I

4 semesters

8th semester

Bi9909 Journal Club – Developmental Biology II

4 semesters

8th semester

Bi9911 Journal Club – Immunology I

4 semesters

8th semester

Bi9912 Journal Club – Immunology II

4 semesters

8th semester

The SDE takes place well in advance of the PhD defense (ideally 1 year) and consists of these steps:

  1. The first step is to announce the intention of the student to take the SDE to the chairman of the Programme Board and to the study department.
  2. The student will prepare 1 page report about the state of her/his project and will submit the report to the chairman of the Programme Board at least one week before the exam.
  3. The SDE consists of the presentation of the PhD project – within a maximum of 20 minutes, the student will present his/her research project, its hypotheses and the data he/she has so far, their evaluation, conclusions, and suggestions for further steps. This presentation has a preliminary form of the future dissertation defense.
  4. In the follow-up discussion with the SDE committee, the student should prove the ability to apply his/her knowledge to solve specific problems and demonstrate good orientation in the fields involving the scientific problem investigated in the doctoral thesis. The discussion will be focused on the students’ research work.

The language of SDE is English, Czech or Slovak depending on students preferences and may be communicated with the chairman prior to SDE.

 

SDE committee will evaluate:

  • overall knowledge of the topic including broader context and meaning
  • ability to explain and present their work
  • knowledge of hypothesis and methods of solution
  • knowledge of experimental techniques, focusing on the ability to choose an optimal experimental approach
  • ability to correctly interpret data, draw and discuss conclusions

 

PhD Thesis & Defense

In every semester, enrol the course XD100: Ph.D. Thesis (obligatory in each semester, 25 ECTS for semesters 1-4, 30 ECTS for semesters 5-8, 20 ECTS for semesters 9+). The total credit value of XD100: Ph.D. Thesis during the study should be between one-half and two-thirds of the minimum credit value of the study, i.e. 120-160 credits for a four-year study.

The doctoral thesis has to be based on student´s own and original scientific results and a necessary prerequisite for its acceptance in the program of the Animal Physiology, Immunology and Developmental Biology is that its most significant results should be published or accepted for publication in international peer-reviewed professional journals (registered in the ISI Journal Citation Reports database).

Minimum criteria for publications:

  • 1 paper as a first author in journal in the Q1 or Q2 according to Journal Citation Reports
  • at least 1 more paper as co-author (obligatory minimum but for a good grade you need more)
  • If the articles and manuscripts contained in the thesis are written with co-authors, then the student must clearly define his/her specific share in each of them (not only the percentage).

In cases of shared first-authoring, the Doctoral Committee will apply generally stricter standards for the quality of publications.

In very exceptional cases, for example, an exceptionally high-quality publication that is associated with a long review process, some of the conditions may be waived. In this case, the Doctoral Committee will assess the written request of the supervisor and may approve the acceptance of the thesis for defense.

 

The preferred form of the doctoral thesis is a set of published articles or manuscripts accepted or ready for publication. A doctoral thesis in this form usually contains three articles (minimum two) or manuscripts of articles supplemented with an introductory chapter of an extent of 20 pages minimum, which will

  • logically link the individual articles and put them in the context of contemporary knowledge
  • define the main aims that the author of the thesis has set for him or herself
  • evaluate the importance of the results achieved for the respective field

In this introductory chapter, the PhD students have to demonstrate their professional overview and a wider orientation in the given field than only in the specialized topics of individual articles.

Formal requirements on the PhD thesis:

  • The only acceptable language is English.
  • The introductory essay contains the sections Introduction, Overview, Objectives, Results and Discussion, Conclusion, Literature.
  • Material and methods need not be included since sufficient information should be included in the annotated publications in the Annex.
  • The Results and Discussions are, from the point of view of the significance of the work, the main chapters whose purpose is to present own achieved results in the context of already published knowledge; in the text, the doctoral student must prove his / her professional perspective and broader orientation in the field.
  • The supposed extent of the dissertation is equivalent to 30-40 pages (without a list of literature and without attached articles) of standard format New Times Roman 12b., spacing 1,5.

PhD Defense:

The first formal step of the defense is to announce the intention to do so by the student to the chairman of the Programme Board and the study department.

The PhD thesis must be submitted to the study department at least 8 weeks prior to the planned defense. Students also elaborate self-report/summary of the final thesis, which they send to the chairman of the doctoral committee at least one week before the defense (student can enrol and get credits for BD010: PhD Thesis).

The work will be judged by 2 opponents, at least one being from a workplace outside MUNI. It is expected that at least one of the opponents will be from abroad. The presentation during the defense has a maximum duration of 25 minutes, followed by the statement of two opponents based on written reviews and their discussion with the student. In case of a dissertation that meets just the minimum requirements, the Doctoral Committee assesses the overall quality of the results and the dissertation thesis particularly carefully and critically and generally evaluates the result with a reduced grade. The PhD defense is conducted in English.

 

 


What to do when you study longer than standard 8 semesters?

Enrol in the 2 obligatory courses below and set the number of their credits adequately so that you fulfil the requirement of number of credits to continue in further semesters:

  • XD100: Ph.D. Thesis
  • XD101: Literature Study

Discuss your PhD project with your supervisor.