University of Exeter funding: ESRC SWDTP +3 and 1+3 studentships

ESRC SWDTP +3 and 1+3 studentships: Sustainable Futures, for 2020/21 entry Ref: 3771

About the award

Pathway Lead: Dr Louisa Evans

Location: Streatham Campus, University of Exeter, Exeter, Devon.

The University of Exeter is pleased to be offering ESRC funded 1+3 or +3 studentships as part of the Interdisciplinary Pathways of the South West Doctoral Training Partnership for entry in 2020-21. Within the SWDTP, the College of Life and Environmental Sciences is currently inviting applications for ESRC-facing research in the discipline of Sustainable Futures. Your proposed research must be interdisciplinary with supervisors from two different disciplines at two different SWDTP partner Universities.

Sustainable Futures

For eligible UK/EU students the full time studentship will cover fees and an annual Research Council stipend of approximately £15,009 (2019/20rate) for up to three years (+3 award) or four years (1+3 award).
For the 1+3 studentships we would require you to register initially on the MRes Sustainable Futures (Penryn campus only). For the +3 studentships you would be required to register on the MPhil/PhD Sustainable Futures (Penryn or Streatham campus, depending on the location of your lead supervisor).

The Sustainable Futures pathway of the SWDTP offers ESRC 1+3 and +3 postgraduate research training that explores the interface between sustainability, energy and the environment by engaging the latest critical thinking on behaviour change, risk management, socio-technical transitions, governance and public regulation, social and policy change and the environmental sciences.

The Sustainable Futures pathway will train social science researchers who understand the impacts of living with environmental change, the uncertainties of environmental change for energy and food security and the diverse responses needed to foster behaviours, practices and policies that promote sustainability and resilience. Students from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds will be accepted into this pathway. They will be required to demonstrate explicitly how their research will be interdisciplinary.

There are a range of relevant disciplines and research centres at Exeter linked to the pathway including:

Human Geography
o Environment and Sustainability
o Energy policy
Centre for Energy and the Environment
Centre for Rural Policy Research
Climate Change and Sustainable Futures research theme
Environment and Sustainability Institute

We welcome applications to undertake research in any of our areas of expertise. Research proposals must fit ONE of the following criteria.  See 'Important notes' in the SWDTP Student Statement Form.

1. Collaborative, Impact and Engagement Elements - important factors include relevant external partner identified, collaboration plan (with partner), impact and awareness of opportunities and challenges that external collaborations bring.
2. Ambitious and Novel Research Proposal - important factors include novelty/fresh ideas, new concepts / techniques with the potential for significant scientific or societal and economic impact, innovative or even untested methods within the context of the particular project, involve multiple or unusual disciplinary combinations both within and beyond the social sciences, and accessing difficult/challenging data or generating new data in challenging settings.

Entry requirements

Academic entry requirements:

Applicants for a +3 award should have:

• Completed, or be due to complete an ESRC-accredited or an equivalent research Masters* with a significant element of research training. Applicants may be asked for further information to determine the relevance of the content covered.

     * An equivalent research Masters is defined as including significant social sciences research design,
     quantitative and qualitative research methods elements. The transcript will need to show that a minimum of
     a third of the taught stage of your programme entailed research methods elements
- which should
     normally be roughly divided equally between social sciences research design, quantitative and qualitative
     research method elements - and that there is also a Dissertation.  For students who have undertaken a
     Masters outside the UK we will look for appropriate equivalencies. All awards are subject to ratification by
     the “Awards and Ratification Committee”, who shall have the authority to reconsider the equivalence of any
     Masters awards.

• Achieved a current average grade of their Masters (at the point of application) normally of at least Merit (60%) grade. Successful applicants must ultimately achieve BOTH an overall average of at least 60% across the taught units/modules AND at least 60% for the dissertation component as a condition of their funding.

Holders of Masters degrees that are not considered equivalent (as above), must apply for the 1+3 award.

In the case of a 1+3 application, continuation of funding from the ‘1’ stage to the ‘+3’ stage of the programme will be subject to achieving 60% across the taught units / modules AND 60% for the dissertation component.  Students who fail to achieve these conditions may have their funding terminated and may be required to refund any money paid to them during the PhD portion of the programme.

Residency entry requirements:

In order to receive ESRC studentship funding you must have qualitfications/experience equal to the standard of a good honours degree at first or upper second class level from a UK academic research organisation. 

Degree qualifications gained from outside the UK, or a combination of qualifications and/or experience that is equivalent to a relevant UK degree may be accepted. 

To be eligible for a full award (stipend and fees), you must meet all three of the following requirements.

  • You have settled status in the UK
  • You have been 'ordinarily resident' in the jUK for three years prior to te start of the studentship grant
  • You have not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for he purpose of full-time education

To be eligible for a fees only award:

  • You must be ordinarily resident in an EU member state.

The full ESRC guidlines are available in the Postgraduate Funding Guide.

For more information on SWDTP entry and collaboration requirements, please read the Admission Statement & FAQs 2020 Entry.

How to apply

To apply for SWDTP funding, you must do so by clicking on the ‘apply now’ button above. Only applications submitted via this link will be considered for funding.  Please do not apply directly to your chosen programme of study at this stage. If successful, your application for funding will become your programme application so you will not need to apply again.

You will need to upload the following documents to the studentship application form. Please note our preferred format is PDF, each file named with your surname and the name of the document, eg. “Smith – CV.pdf”, “Smith – Cover Letter.pdf”, “Smith – Transcript.pdf”:

• A completed SWDTP Student Statement Form. This will include your research proposal of 1,000 words including the name(s) of the potential supervisors. For 1+3 students it is recognised that this will be an outline proposal to be further developed during the first year of the studentship.

• CV

• 2 references:
       - 1 Supervisor Supporting Statement form – this must be completed by your nominated supervisor
       - 1 reference from someone familiar with your academic work
       -  if your referees prefer, they can email the reference direct to

• Verified transcript of your highest qualification to date or an interim transcript if you are still studying

• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English (for further details, please see the University’s English language requirements)

Reference information
It is your responsibility to ensure that your supervisor and referee email their Supervisor Supporting Statement/references to, as we will not make requests for references directly; you must arrange for them to be submitted by 21 January 2020.  Please note that applications with missing documentation will not progress to shortlisting.

References should be submitted to us directly in the form of a letter. Referees must email their references to us from their institutional email accounts. We cannot accept references from personal/private email accounts, unless it is a scanned document on institutional headed paper and signed by the referee.

All application documents must be submitted in English. Certified translated copies of academic qualifications must also be provided.

Interviews for short listed applicants will take place w/c 2 March 2020. The interviews will be held at the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth, or West England. The location of interviews for this pathway will be confirmed post shortlisting. All shortlisted candidates for this pathway will be interviewed at the same venue, irrespective of the institution to which they have applied.

Data Sharing
During the application process, the University may need to make certain disclosures of your personal data to third parties to be able to administer your application, carry out interviews and select candidates.  These are not limited to, but may include disclosures to:

- The selection panel and/or management board or equivalent of the relevant programme, which is likely to include staff from one or more other HEIs;

- Administrative staff at one or more other HEIs participating in the relevant programme.

Such disclosures will always be kept to the minimum amount of personal data required for the specific purpose. Your sensitive personal data (relating to disability and race/ethnicity) will not be disclosed without your explicit consent.


Application deadline:21st January 2020
Value:£15,009 per annum for 2019-20
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Enquiries