Information for supervisors


We have now selected our projects for 2019 and applications for projects are closed.

If you have any quality students looking for a fully-funded NERC studentship in freshwater biosciences please direct them to our student pages where we have 20 exciting projects available for an October 2019 start.

We will be looking for proposals for suitable freshwater bioscience projects to advertise again next year for an October 2020 start date – please check back from around June 2019 for more details. Details of the selection process for this year are outlined below and are unlikely to change significantly so have been left here for your information and planning.


Supervisors are invited to submit project proposals that sit within the four key research themes that characterise the FRESH CDT:

  1. Quantify and mitigate emerging risks to freshwater ecosystems that stem from changing patterns in behaviours, demography, governance or climate;
  2. Develop and test next generation sensing and monitoring tools for freshwater ecosystems and ecosystem services; based on recent advances in omics, sensing novel sensor technology, imaging, and big data computing.
  3. Tackle extinction and impairment in freshwater ecosystems; namely through measures to enhance ecosystem health, natural capital and ecosystem service resilience.
  4. Create integrated solutions to utilise freshwater ecosystem services sustainably for people and ecosystems, namely through improving our understanding of how multiple pressures interact across spatio-temporal scales to impact on freshwater ecosystems.

Project proposals that sit across the key themes but offer students outstanding training opportunities, especially in the interdisciplinary or industry led areas, may be considered for funding.

Please read the FAQs carefully as the process this year differs slightly in both time frame and process from that run for the October 2018 project starts.

Project proposals must be submitted using this online form. To help you in drafting answers and collaboration within your team, we have provided a word version of the questions

Projects will be scrutinised by a cross-institutional panel against set criteria, and up to 24 projects will be selected for advertising. These will be uploaded to our website and targeted marketing will direct candidates to the website to view project descriptions and apply online. Supervisors will also be expected to promote their own projects.

The CDT and NERC are keen to promote interdisciplinary working, we also aim to attract excellent students from a variety of disciplines.

Note that supervisory teams must include members from at least two of the GW4 partner institutions and a stakeholder partner. There is no maximum number of supervisors that can be on the supervisory team for a project and projects can also be submitted and led by CEH and BGS (as long they are co-supervised by one of the four academics partners). Stakeholder partners must complete a letter of support as part of the project submission.


What the studentship covers

Most of the studentships will be of 3.5 years’ duration. Our award has been calculated on this basis. Applications for a longer duration will be considered on a case-by-case basis, as the grant allows for flexibility.

The elements of the studentship are: fees (UK/EU rate), an RCUK national minimum stipend, and a Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) of £11,000 (over the lifetime of the project, although an element of this is retained centrally to cover core cohort training).

Project proposals should outline how the research costs will be met whilst leaving sufficient funds for activities such as conference attendance, overseas opportunities, advanced training etc. To assist your understanding of the ethos and training aims of our CDT, feel free to read this extract from the original NERC bid relating to training.


What supervisors say of the benefits of having students in a GW4 Doctoral Training Entity (DTE):

“The studentship has provided a crucial vehicle by which to extend our existing cross-disciplinary collaboration”.

“His (the student’s) training opportunities have  been far more diverse, since he has accessed both the GW4 DTE specific training and other training within the GW4 (often outside of Bath)”.

“Access to expertise in multiple institutions. Forging meaningful collaborations between Universities in the GW4. This will ultimately lead to combined grant funding”.

“DTE facilities access technical expertise in GW4 network, not otherwise available at host institution

“Shared Ph.D. students are a great tool to establish and strengthen research collaborations”

“It is a good framework for collaboration, and it’s good for the student to have access to people with broad skills and knowledge”.

“Great students given the profile of a DTE versus that of a single academic”.

“It does encourage collaboration and more innovative/new projects. The standard of students is uniformly higher because it seems easier to recruit”

“Improved training (and associated guidance) offered to students of the DTE is greatly improved compared to individual studentships”.

“The DTE approach offers: (1) improved monitoring and training opportunities for the Personal Development of students (i.e. transferable skills); (2) opportunities for cross-institutional research collaborations”

“Encourages collaboration and therefore exposes the student to different techniques and approaches. Students are also part of a cohort and have an increased opportunity to speak to one-another, exchanging ideas etc.”

“Really strong advantage in having a clear cohort identity. Acts as glue between GW4 institutions”.

For supervisors and stakeholder partners:
Please contact us on fresh@cardiff.ac.uk

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