Welcome to Plant Sciences at Oxford

The Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford is one of the leading UK university departments dedicated to research and teaching in plant biology.

Research Assessment Exercise 2014: Biological Science at Oxford tops rankings

The results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 were published today, Thursday 18th December 2014, and confirm the University of Oxford’s world leading position in biological sciences. We ranked top for the volume of world-leading research.



We are keen to hear from prospective Independent Research Fellows and would particularly welcome enquiries by Friday 10th October 2014. Find out more here.

Mapping the Future of Trees and Forests in Era of Global Environmental Change - From Adaptability to Sustainability

Professor John MacKay, Wood Professor of Forest Science, gave his inaugral lecture on 6th November 2014 at Oxford University's Examination School.

Sustainable forest management has three targets: healthy forest ecosystems, productive forestlands, and economic value. In the 21st century, increased pressures on land from human population growth and public demands for more responsible use of forests have emerged as increasingly important for forest sustainability. In addition, environmental change including global warming has brought considerable attention to predicting the fate of trees and forests. Understanding the ability of trees to adapt to changing conditions has become a central research question and a matter of much debate. Population genetics and evolutionary biology clearly teach that tree populations are able to adapt to environmental conditions; however, our understanding of how trees adapt is insufficient to discern their adaptability to rapid change. Recent research developments in forest genomics are beginning to fill the knowledge gap and are paving the way to future progress toward understanding the adaptability of trees. The roadmap for the future of trees and forests must include an improved understanding of adaptability; this knowledge will contribute to the sustainability of forestry practices and inform natural resource policy.

Fundamental Research

We have active research programmes in three interlinked areas under the theme 'Genes, Genetics & Genomics':

Translational Research

Implemented under the Plants for the 21st Century Institute (P21C), we have distinct programs on conservation, crops and trees. P21C is affiliated with the Oxford Martin School.


In conjunction with the Department of Zoology, an integrated undergraduate programme in biology is provided. The course provides a broad education covering topics from molecules to populations.

Herbaria and Botanic Garden

The department also houses the Oxford University Herbaria and has close links with the University of Oxford Botanic Garden.


The department has 28 academic staff and independent research fellows* and approximately 60 postdoctoral researchers and D. Phil. students supported by some 40 technicians and administrative staff.

* General information about opportunities to join our department as an independent research fellow can be found on our Independent Research Fellowships information page.

Petalloid monocot flower (Orchid)Arabidopsis thalianaFruiting bodies of saprophytic fungi