Royal University of Phnom Penh
Department of Biology

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

1. Program Overview

Doctor of Philosophy in Life Science skilled in Applied Ecology and Managment (PhD-AEM) 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 56 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 and new MSc. of Science in Biology, skilled in Applied Ecology and Management (Bio-EAM) 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 and PhD program include University of Battambang (UBB), Can Tho Univeristy (CTU) and An Giang University (AGU) in Vietname with technical support of EU university partners Université Paul Sabatiar Toulouse (UPT-France), University of Girona (UdG – Catalonia, Spain), Ghent University (UGent – Belgium) and University of Natural Resources and Life Science (BOKU – Austria) including many collaborating project in Thailand, USA and China.

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.

2. Curriculum

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

Phase 1: PhD Coursework, Year One (32 credits)

The first 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.

Phase 2: Research Thesis, Year Two, Three (24 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 life science 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:

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 (A + B) 56

* To be able to defence the thesis, each student has to have at least one paper published/ accepted for publication in an SCI journal.

Student Support Centers:

A variety of resources and support are available to students studying the PhD in Applied Ecosystem and Management. These include.

Professional Development

Through the PhD programme’s extensive links to international scientific and life science experts (CONSEA project and others), 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.

Cambodian Entomology Initiatives (CEI)

Established by group of researchers and students at the Department of Biology RUPP in March 2015. CEI aimed to establish and inventory a national entomological collection at the Department of Biology, RUPP; Document the species diversity of the Cambodian Insect fauna through education and research and Identifying insect species that are critical agricultural pests and develop tools for pest identification, management and control.

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.

3. Eligibility

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 Bio-AEM or MSc. in any sciences 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 1,000 per year. The PhD programme consists of eight semesters and so the total tuition fee for the programme over the course of its three years is USD $3,000 (Minimum 56 credits). 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.

Scholarships and Research Grants

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. Scholarships are based on the performance and their research studying of the students and 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, skilled in Applied Ecology and Management (PhD-AEM) one time per year.

Application Deadline:  September 15, 2018

Contact Information and Admission:

  • Ith Saveng, Programme manager: 012-507-492
  • Kheam Sokha, Programme coordinator: 092-299-474
  • Phauk Sophany, Programme facilitator: 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



Full program (PDF)

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