Apply to the London NERC DTP

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We currently fund over 140 PhD students in the natural sciences.

The next round of applications will open in November 2019, for PhDs starting in September 2020.

All students will undertake an intensive programme of interdisciplinary core research and professional development training the autumn and spring terms. At the end of term 1, all students will submit a choice of 2 project titles. At the end of term 2, students will present their PhD project plans to the rest of their cohort before joining their primary research institution to begin their project.

Applications to the London NERC DTP programme are not for a specific project, but for a research theme. The projects listed on the site are to provide you with details on what is potentially on offer if you were to be accepted to the DTP. It is expected that students will meet with potential supervisors to discuss and develop their project ideas during the first six months of their PhD training.

Application Process

All of our studentships are open to students who qualify for NERC awards and EU nationals. Please ensure you meet the eligibility and residency criteria before you make an application.

Nov – Applications open
Jan – Application deadline
Feb – Interviews held in London
Mar – Offers confirmed

All applicants will be required to submit a CV, cover letter, and English Language certification for students from outside the UK.

For more information about applying to the London NERC, see the Resources for Applicants page.

Applicants are expected to have a 2:1 or higher in a relevant degree, or equivalent work experience.

All of our studentships are open to students who qualify for NERC awards, as well as EU nationals. Please ensure you meet the eligibility and residency criteria before you make an application. Further details can be found in the UKRI Terms and Conditions.

Residency Criteria:

To be eligible to apply to the London NERC DTP, a student must meet one of the following two sets of criteria:

1. UK Residents eligible for RCUK funding

  • Settled status in the UK, meaning they have no restrictions on how long they can stay and;
  • Been ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the studentship. This means they must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences) and;
  • Not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. (This does not apply to UK or EU nationals – EU nationals who have been in the UK for full time study for the past 3 years or more, do qualify for a full award);
  • Overseas students are not eligible for these studentships.

For purposes of residence requirements the UK includes the United Kingdom and Islands (ie the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man).

2. EU Nationals eligible for partner funding

In addition to funding from NERC, the London NERC DTP partners have provided funding for a number of fully funded studentships that do not need to adhere to the same RCUK residency criteria.

  • Be a resident of the European Union;
  • Meet the UCL English Language requirements;

English language requirements:

If English is not your first language and you are not a national of a country deemed by either the UK Home Office or UCL to be “majority English speaking”, you must be able to provide recent evidence that your spoken and written command of the English language is adequate for the programmes for which you have applied.

The required evidence may be one of the following:

  • completed a minimum of twelve months academic education leading to an awarded qualification, in a country that UCL considers to be ‘majority English speaking’, no more than two years prior to the proposed date of enrolment (or the summer two years prior to enrolment if starting in September).
    Non-UCL English language courses and study preparation courses such as pre-Masters are not acceptable;
  • completed a minimum of eighteen months of work experience in a country that UCL considers to be ‘majority English speaking’, no more than two years prior to the proposed date of enrolment;
  • a recently obtained acceptable English language qualification or test result. The qualification or test result must have been awarded no more than two years prior to the proposed date of enrolment. Please see a list of all the English language qualifications and tests that are recognised by UCL and the level (Standard, Good or Advanced) required to satisfy UCL’s English language requirement here:

Please be aware that the English language level for this programme is: Good

Along with the application form, all applicants need to submit supporting documents by the January deadline. You should start the process of completing your application and making contact with your referees as early as possible and be aware that you may need to give your institution(s) and referees plenty of notice of the deadline.

Referees can complete the referee form in advance of your application being submitted, and applicants are encouraged to share the link to the form ( with their chosen referees as soon as possible.

Please note that if you submit your application form on the actual deadline, and do not share the referee form with your references in advance, it it is very unlikely we will receive the references in time, which may prevent your application from being considered.

It is your responsibility to ensure that all documents, including references, meet the requirements and are submitted on time. Late and/or incomplete applications will not be assessed.

Your application cannot receive consideration until you provide all supporting documents:

Curriculum vitae (2 page max)

Cover Letter (2 pages max)

Please identify your research interests and explain why you are interested in this programme, if you have any projects in mind and explain how your current qualifications and skills map onto the requirements for this DTP.

English Language Certification 

Generally, if you are from an EU country other than the UK, and wish to be considered you do need to meet UCL’s English Language requirements. Please read the Eligibility section for more information.

Academic References.

Before we can give full consideration to your application, we will need to receive two academic references. A link to the referee form will automatically be sent to your selected referees when you submit your application, however we encourage applicants to share the link to this form with their referees in advance to give them time to complete the form. Please direct referees to this page to complete your reference: References may be completed in advance of submitting your application.

Only references received from valid institutional email addresses will be accepted. Any responses received from non-accredited email accounts, such as hotmail, gmail etc., will not be considered.

As applications are being made to the DTP and not to a specific project only one application per applicant is required.  You can state on the form which research theme you are interested in but the programme is designed to introduce all successful applicants to a range of areas covering all themes.

Applications are now closed. We will be advertising again in November 2018.

Applications for our 2019 QMUL studentship must be made through the QMUL online system, please click here for more information.

If you are a current London NERC DTP student trying to apply for one of our internships, please click here.

We will call the strongest applicants for interview. Interviews will be held in London in mid February. There will be an interview panel consisting of 3/4 members of the DTP consortium.  In exceptional circumstances Skype interviews may be arranged. We seek to make offers to students who have the best qualifications and who perform best at interview.

We will first make offers shortly after interview. Deadline for all applicants to decide whether or not to accept an offer is in March.  If you accept an informal offer you need do nothing further.  If you decide to turn the offer down your place will be offered to a candidate on the reserve list.

Universal acceptance deadline for NERC DTP and CDT studentships

All NERC Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) have agreed to adhere to an annual universal acceptance deadline for PhD studentship offers. For the 2019/20 intake this date is Wednesday 20th March 2019 at 12pm (noon).

The purpose of the annual universal acceptance deadline is to ensure that PhD applicants who have applied for multiple studentship opportunities, and may therefore receive multiple offers, do not have to make a decision on the studentship they wish to accept before knowing the outcome of all of their applications.

Applicants who receive a PhD studentship offer from a NERC DTP or CDT for the 2019/20 academic year are therefore not required to accept an offer formally before this date unless they wish to do so.

After the universal acceptance date has passed, we will then make a recommendations for PhD study to the university, and you will be required to complete a UCL application form. A formal offer letter will be sent by UCL, and you will become a registered PhD student.

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