Royal University of Phnom  Penh

Department of Biology

Graduate  Program

Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Ecology and Management

Program Overview

Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Ecology and Managment is research intensive and designed to prepare students for careers in academia, government, and industry as engaged scholars who are experts in their chosen field. Students must complete a minimum of 54 credits from a list of core  and  approved  courses  within  their  research  section.  They  must  involve  in independent  research  that  is  novel  and  exciting  culminating  with  a  research  thesis  that makes an important contribution to their chosen field. More importantly, it is expected that their research work will be published in peer reviewed journals with the student listed as first author. Successful students are also trained and expected to develop as effective teachers and educators, and each student must serve as a teaching assistant for two semesters as part of the degree program.

Program Background

Along  side with  the Masters  of Science  in Biodiversity  Conservation,  was established  in 2005 to address the urgent need for qualified conservationists to guide Cambodia towards sustainable development, address existing knowledge gaps, and uphold the nation’s commitments   to  conserving   its  biodiversity,   Doctor  of  Philosophy   in  Life  Science  is developed  to  provide  the  need  of  Cambodian  biological  researchers  and  specialists  to globally develop their knowledge and skills in biological life science. It is supported by Royal University of Phnom Penh mission to launch PhD program and CONSEA projects. Partner organisations assisting the Masters program include:

University of Battambang (UBB) CTU ??

France (Add CONSEA project partners)

USA University??? Thailand University???

Others (Add DoB university partners)…?


To be eligible for the Doctor of Philosophy in Life Science, applicants must be under the age of 45 and fulfil one of the following:

1. Hold a Master of Science (MSc.) in any sciences field field (priority will be given to students with a higher GPA);


2. Hold a degree in any field and have a minimum of 2 years work experience in the natural science and life science field (certification of employment required)

3. Hold a basic or advanced knowledge and skills in scientific researches or scientific publications

Admission Requirements

To apply, students need to present:

  • A brief CV (2 pages, masximum)
  • A covering letter (In English) stating why you wish to undertake the PhD degree and your goals after graduating (2 pages, maximum)
  • One PhD research concept note (4 pages, maximum)
  • Evidence of proficiency in spoken and written English (recent qualifications only)
  • Certification of employment (if required)


Student Selection

Program  Coordinator  will  evaluate  on  the  document  requirements  for  PhD  application. Research  Coordinators  and member  of PhD program  will thoroughly  assess  the concept notes  and  matching  or  selecting  supervisor(s)  for  their  research.  The  candidate  who  is eligible and identified the supervisors will be registered to PhD program accordingly.


Tuition Fees

On completion  of the  selection  criteria,  successful  candidates  are  required  to pay  a fee of USD 750 per semester. The PhD programme consists of eight semesters and so the total tuition fee for the programme over the course of its four years is USD $6,000. Payment of tuition fees is due at the start of each semester and failure to meet this requirement  will result in the candidate being deferred or ejected from the programme.

Tuition Scholarships and Research  Grants

There will be few scholarships for this program, yet there is no guarantee based on selected research topics.


The  Department  of  Biology,  Royal  University  of  Phnom  Penh  is  accepting  applications for Doctor of Philosophy in Life Science one time per year.

Application Deadline:  November 15, 2018

Semester Start: February 01, 2019


The PhD curriculum  is a four-year  programme.  Students  will be required  to take several course work for their first year or second year as needed based on their basic knowledge and skills for life science research.

Stage 1: Coursework, Year One (22 credits)

The second stage of the curriculum  consists of two semesters of classes (February-June and  September-January  each  year).  Classes  are  normally  confined  to  the  afternoons, though several courses also include short field trips. Each semester includes a fortnightly guest lecture series provided by visiting academics and conservation professionals working in Cambodia and overseas. After the first year, and if adequate grades have been achieved, students progress to the third stage (or second year) of the PhD curriculum. Students who fail to achieve adequate marks in first year courses can return to repeat failed courses, but cannot graduate from the PhD programme until satisfactory grades have been achieved.

Stage 2: Research,  Year Two, Three & Four (32 credits)

The second year of the PhD curriculum consists of a dissertation, which requires students to produce an original research thesis. (Each student develops a thesis proposal during their first  year).  For  their  theses,  students  are  encouraged  to  address  subjects  relevant  to contemporary conservation issues in Cambodia and students often undertake their projects in collaboration with national or international organisations/institutions,  many of whom offer employment after they graduate.

Subjects covered during the first and second year of the PhD programme are as follows:


Research Analysis: A Process of Inquiry 3
Research Methods & Applied Statistics 3
Freshwater Ecology or Terrestrial and Riparian Ecology (should be added) 3
Behavioural Ecology: An Evolutionary Approach 3
Seminar I & II 2
Advanced Statistics (R programming, SPSS, and Modelling) 3
Thesis Proposal Writing 5
Thesis Writing 1 (Sem 3) 5
Thesis Writing 2 (Sem 4) 5
Thesis Writing 3 (Sem 5) 5
Thesis Writing 4 (Sem 6) 5
Thesis Defense (Sem 7 & 8) 12
Course  Description

Research  Analysis: A Process of Inquiry

Coordinated by Dr. Sok Serey

This course has been designed to challenge student assumptions and the way they gather information. It teaches students the difference between scientific research and general information  gathering.  It aims to enable students to formulate  specific research questions and design appropriate data collection method to provide answers to these questions, with the ultimate goal to understand nature and the environment better. The formation of an idea, a question  and an opinion is based on a previously  acquired  information  and knowledge that, in turn, is collected either ad hoc, at random or in a systematic manner. Collection and analysis  of  data  through  direct  studies  in  nature  or  through  experimental  setup  in  a laboratory are fundamental to all kinds of scientific research. The manner which questions are asked, however, affects the way a study is setup to answer the respective question too, and therefore a systematic and replicable process of inquiry is fundamental to any kind of modern science. In addition, collection and analysis of data also supports decision-makers to  make  informed  decisions  about  the  management  of  wildlife  and  natural  resources.

Modern scientific research is based on principles that evolved 2,500 years ago in Greece and  this  course  examines  the  history  of  critical  thinking  and  discusses  the  difference between Tenacity, Intuition, Authority, Rationalism, Empiricism and Science. It also touches on the topics of data, analysis and interpretation and deduction vs. Induction.


Advanced Statistics (R programming, SPSS, and Modelling) Coordinated by Prof. Lek Sovan (check with Lok Kru Sovan)

This  course  will  provide  an  overview  of  current  statistical  methods  commonly  used  by ecologists  from various disciplines.  The aim of the course is to provide students with the tools  necessary  to  design  statistically  robust  experiment,  evaluate  the  structure  of  data resulting  from  observational  and experimental  studies,  and analysis  their ecological  data using appropriate statistical methods.


Statistics is the science that deals with the collection, description,  analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data. In Advanced Statistical Inferential, students learn the conceptual underpinnings  of statistical  methods  and  how  to  apply  them  to  address  more  advanced statistical  question  than  are  covered  in  an  introductory  statistics  course.  The  statistical methods covered in the course are useful for many types of questions that relate to multiple variables  and/or  multiple  groups.  Learning  how  to  effectively  use  data  and  statistical methods to make evidence based business decisions is the overarching goal of the course. Statistical analyses will be performed using SPSS and R program.


Seminar I & II

Coordinated by Dr. Ith Saveng & Mr. Kheam Sokha & Mr. Phauk Sophany

This  course  is  designed  to  expose  students  to  scientific  articles  and  comprehend  it thoroughly. More importantly, students will develop skills on designing and writing scientific papers as well as the presentation of the results of their research findings. The main aim of this   course   is   to   promote   students   scientific   understanding   various   biological   and environmental articles and be able to present the data in a scientific way.



Freshwater Ecology or Terrestrial and Riparian Ecology (should be added—decided what subject should be added!)

Coordinated by Dr. Sor Ratha

Need description of each course

This course will focus on interactions among freshwater species and between these species and their aquatic  environments.  Lectures  and readings  provide  the scientific  background necessary for understanding the physical, chemical, and biological dynamics of freshwater habitats.   Emphasis   is  placed   on   basic   mechanisms   controlling   the   distribution   and abundance of freshwater species, and on application of fundamental concepts to problems in conservation  and management  of aquatic  systems.  The laboratory  and field  work  are designed to acquaint students with the freshwater systems of Cambodia, and with methods for studying these systems.

Student Support


A variety of resources and support are available to students studying the Masters of Science in Biodiversity Conservation. These include.


Tuition Scholarships and Research Grants

A range of scholarships  are currently  available  for students  entering  the first year of the Masters programme  with program coordination  with other local, regional and international porjects.


Professional Development

Through  the  PhD  programme’s  extensive  links  to international  scientific  and  life  science experts,  students  have  access  to  a  diverse  array  of  specialists  and  professionals  who regularly  deliver  guest lectures  and supervise  research  theses.  In addition  to introducing students  to  future  employers  in  Cambodia  and  overseas,  the  PhD  programme  provides career  support  by arranging  student  work  placements  with  organizations  nationwide  and assisting graduates to prepare job, scholarship and grant applications.


Computing and Other Facilities

Dedicated  I.T. facilities  including  five desktop  and two laptop  computers  are available  to students on the PhD programme (all equipped with internet access and the latest software packages) and wifi internet access is available to students within the Department of Biology. Students also have full access to a wide variety of research equipment, including camping gear,  and  equipment  for  sampling  water  quality  and  freshwater  and  terrestrial  biota,  in addition to a range of laboratory and curatorial activities.


Conservation Library

In addition to the Hun Sen Library, students on the PhD programme have full access to a dedicated  reference  collection  containing  several  hundred  recent  texts  on  conservation biology and sustainable development. The conservation library is housed in the zoological museum  (below) and students  also have access to thousands  of electronic  titles through databases available to the Masters programme.


Zoological and Botanical Museum Collections

Established  by the Centre for Biodiversity  Conservation  in 2007, the reference collections have grown to include several thousands of voucher specimens and remain the only natural history museums  dedicated  to lesser-known  and smaller-bodied  biota in Cambodia.  As a result,  these  have  become  an  important  national  asset  for  documenting   Cambodian biodiversity  and  are  regularly  used  in  systematic  and  conservation-orientated   research efforts, Masters teaching and by students undertaking course assignments and second year thesis projects.


The Cambodian Journal of Natural History

Students on the Masters programme receive a free hardcopy subscription to the  Cambodian Journal of Natural History, the first peer-reviewed scientific periodical in Cambodia. Aimed at helping  Cambodian  scientists  to share  their  findings  and  improve  their  writing  skills,  the journal   addresses   the   critical   need   for  information   on  the   conservation   status   and management requirements of Cambodian biodiversity.


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