Royal University of Phnom Penh
Department of Biology

Graduate Program
Doctor of Philosophy in Life Science skilled in Applied Ecology and Management (PhD-AEM)


Program Background

Cambodia supports a rich biodiversity yet is one of the least known countries worldwide. In addition to forming an important part of the Indo-Burma Hotspot, containing four Global Ecoregions and 40 Important Bird Areas, it possesses many of the best remaining forests and wetlands in mainland Southeast Asia, with countless endemic and globally threatened species. Though knowledge of Cambodian applied ecology and management remains limited, recent years have seen an astonishing rise in the number of species documented and other ecosystem within the country. Much of this research has been led by international ecologists/biologists, due to the chronic shortage of Cambodian research scientists. As a consequence, Cambodia’s current ability to manage its natural heritage is severely hampered both by a lack of skilled people and biological information.

Natural resources are the mainstay of Cambodia’s economy: more than 80% of Cambodians depend directly on natural resources for subsistence and income, and all utilize wild resources such as fish and timber. With pressures on ecosystems/biodiversity and the environment increasing, there is a risk of losing much of this natural wealth forever; to the detriment of present and future generations. As a result, the lack of national capacity and reliable biodiversity data has been highlighted in all recent priority-setting exercises, including the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (RGC, 2002).

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, skill in Applied Ecology and Management, 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: Partner organizations assisting the Masters programme is mainly supported by European Project – Erasmus+ Program within the consortium of 4 European university partners: University of Toulouse (France), University of Girona (Spain), University of Ghent (Belgium) and University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (Austria), and 4 South-East Asia university partners: University of Battambang (Cambodia), Can Tho University (Vietnam) and An Giang University (Vietnam). Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (CBC), that is currently running Master of Science in Biodiversity Conservation (CBC), Fauna and Flora International Cambodia (FFI) are the main collaborators for the program implementation.

Doctor of Philosophy in Life Science, skilled in Applied Ecology and Management, 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.

The programme is designed to equip students with essential knowledge and transferable skills and experience required for successful careers in the rapidly-growing sustainable development and applied ecology and management sectors in Cambodia and SE-Asia.

Program objectives

In the face of current anthropogenic pressure (e.g. industrial building along/closed to aquatic and terrestrial natural ecosystem), global climate change and economic development, this PhD programme aims to build up a more grounded scientific-based applied biological science, e.g. ecological management, tissue culture, horticulture. Via this programme, PhD students will be trained with theoretical and applied approaches to the address the current pressure and needs. Furthermore, the candidates will be equipped with data-driven modelling approaches that will result in solid research findings that can be used as decision support tools and economic improvement.

Program Learning outcomes

Graduates from the programme will:

  • Have a broad theoretical and practical knowledge on basic and applied biological science, e.g. ecosystem management that links to sustainable development, tissue culture, industrial micro-organism.
  • Able to conduct or lead independently research projects, and to supervise graduate students
  • Able to exploit sophisticated but practical modelling approaches that can be used to support decision and policy making related to ecosystem management and sustainable development
  • Publish research articles in international/local peer reviewed journals

Program Prospectus careers           

            Graduates will become:

  • Biological science researchers, lecturers, trainers,
  • Employers in private companies,
  • Post-doctoral researchers,
  • Ecological and environmental manager,
  • Ecological modellers,
  • Environmental and ecological consultants, and entrepreneur.


The PhD curriculum is a four-year program which consists of two stages. Students are evaluated at the end of each stage, and only those with adequate grades may proceed to the next stage. There will be ONE-year coursework and three year of research as below.

Code Course Title Credits
A. Course Work
1). Oriented courses
PLS530 Aquatic Ecology 3
PLS531 Community Ecology and Ecosystem Functioning 3
PLS532 Genetic and Species Conservation 3
PLS533 Geographical Information System 2
PLS534 Research Methods & Applied Statistics 4
2). Supplementary courses
PLS538 Behavioural Ecology: Evolutionary Approach 3
PLS539 Integrated Natural Resource Management 3
PLS540 Transferable skill: Seminar I & II 2
3). Advanced training courses
PLS535 Advanced Biological Statistics and Modelling Ecology 4
PLS536 Fundamental of Research: A Process of Inquiry 3
PLS537 Tools for ecosystem Management 4
B. Research Work​​
PLS541 Research proposal 2
PLS542 Conference/Workshop 2
PLS543 Practicum (assisting teaching or student research supervision) 2
PLS544 Thesis writing and defence* 18
Total (I + II) 56



  • Master of Science (MSc.) in any science field (priority will be given to students with a higher GPA);
  • Related fields with a minimum of 2 years work experience (certification of employment required)
  • A basic or advanced knowledge and skills in scientific researches or scientific publications in international journals.

Student selection

Program Coordinator will evaluate on the document requirements for PhD application (e.g. CV, research proposal, certificate of employment etc.). 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 fee

On completion of the selection criteria, successful candidates are required to pay a tuition fee of USD 750 per semester, which means USD1,500/per year. 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.

Scholarship opportunity and research grant

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

Varies scholarships and research grants are available based on the partners (CONSEA) and collaborators for this program. It is potentially available for some outstanding students amount the cohort. Additional research mobility to EU partners in the field of studies will be provided under the CONSEA project.


The Royal University of Phnom Penh is accepting applications for Doctor of Philosophy in Life Science, skilled in Applied Ecology and Management one time per year.

Open for applications: August 01, 2018

Application Deadline: December 01, 2018

PhD Class Schedule: Monday to Friday (noon) – Weekday

Language of Instructions: English and Khmer

Program Duration: 4 Years

Number of Credits: 56

Contact for further information

  • Ith Saveng, Programme manager: 012-507-492
  • Mr Kheam Sokha, Programme coordinator: 092-299-474
  • Phauk Sophany, Programme coordinator: 016-941-231

Address: Room 415, 4th Floor, Main Campus, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Royal University of Phnom Penh, Russian Federation Blvd., Touk Kork, Phnom Penh 12101 Cambodia

Important dates

  • Open for applications: August 01, 2018
  • Application Deadline:  December 01, 2018
  • PhD Candidate Interview: December 05 – 20, 2018
  • Successful Candidate Announcement: January, 2019
  • PhD Program Start: February, 2019

Full Program (PDF): Doctor of Philosophy in Life Science skilled in Applied Ecology and Management (PhD-AEM)

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