How to apply for a doctoral studentship


Applications to our October 2019 entry studentships are now closed.

Please revisit our site in October 2019 when we will be advertising another batch of exciting projects in freshwater bioscience and sustainability.

The process for applying for studentships is outlined below and this should give you an idea of what to expect.


Applying for the ‘Offer of Funding’

The first stage of the application process involves applying to the CDT via this online form. This application is for the studentship itself, also known as the ‘offer of funding’. You will also be required to apply to the institution of the project lead supervisor for admission there, known as the ‘offer of a place’; note this varies slightly by institution – see below for further details.

After the closing deadline all applications will be forwarded to the lead Supervisor of the project(s) you have selected. They will shortlist their applicants and will contact you if they wish to interview you, and following this interview will submit their preferred candidate for their project to FRESH CDT. These shortlisted candidates will be invited to a CDT panel interview in Cardiff (tbc) in w/c 17 February 2019. See ‘What happens next?’ for a more detailed explanation.

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Application Tips

The application form asks question surrounding:

  • Your academic qualifications
  • Any research experience to date
  • How your experience fits you to the project(s) to which you have applied
  • Why you are interested in doing a PhD with a CDT and these  projects in particular

To help with planning your answers, a hard copy of the questions can be found here.

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Applying for an ‘Offer of a Place’

Applying for an ‘Offer of a Place’ is largely a formality and mostly to check you meet all eligibility requirements of the host institution. It is not part of the selection process.

Applicants to Bath, Bristol and Exeter based projects will only need to complete this stage if they are successful and offered a studentship. Further information on this will be provided at the time.

However, if you are applying for a Cardiff based project you will need, in addition to the online form mentioned  above, to submit an application for postgraduate study via the Cardiff University Online Application Service (sims); we will notify you of how to do this after we have received your application to the CDT – you should complete this second stage before noon on 19th December .

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What happens next?

If you are shortlisted, the lead supervisor of the project(s) to which you applied will contact you to arrange an interview sometime between 2nd and 14th January, at a mutually convenient time. The interview can be face-to-face or by Skype or telephone. They may ask you to send references and transcripts to assist them in their decision making. After this interview the supervisor will put forward one candidate for their project for consideration by the GW4 FRESH CDT Management Board Interview Panel. You will be notified if you are shortlisted for this central CDT interview by 5pm Monday 20th January 2020.

If you are shortlisted you will need to:

-arrange for two academic referees to send references to the CDT by 9am on 21st January 2020
-send a copy of your academic transcript(s) by 9am on 21st January 2020;

The GW4 FRESH Panel will then consider your application form and interview you. Selection will be based on consideration against the following criteria:

  1. Why you are keen to pursue a freshwater bioscience PhD.
  2. What experience you have of freshwater research and interdisciplinary work.
  3. Whether you have the necessary personal and academic skills to complete a PhD project.
  4. Whether this scheme is suited to you and likely to best contribute to your career.

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Interviews will take place in the week commencing 17 February 

Interviews will likely take place at the Water Research Institute, Cardiff University (tbc). Interviews will last for approx. 30 mins and you will be ask to give a short presentation on your own research outcomes.

Candidates will be notified of the outcome of the selection process by 24th February 2020 and must accept or decline the studentship by the NERC universal acceptance deadline –  noon 18th March 2019.

Studentships start on 1 October 2020.

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Student Eligibility

Studentships will last for 3.5 years full-time or the equivalent period part-time.

Applicants must demonstrate an outstanding academic record: at least a 2:1 undergraduate degree or equivalent, or relevant masters degree.

NERC-funded studentships are subject to UKRI eligibility requirements. In short, you should be a citizen of the UK or other EU country and have been residing in the UK for the last 3 years (apart from temporary or occasional absences).


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