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Funding and scholarships for students

Award details

ESRC SWDTP +3 and 1+3 studentships: Human Geography, for 2022/23 entry Ref: 4361

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 South West Doctoral Training Partnership for entry in 2022-23. Within the SWDTP, the College of Life and Environmental Sciences is currently inviting applications for ESRC-facing research in the discipline of Human Geography.

Human Geography

For eligible students the full time studentship will cover fees and an annual Research Council stipend of approximately £15,609 (2021/22 rate) for up to three years (+3 award) or four years (1+3 award). 

For details regarding residency entry requirements, please see the entry requirements section below.

Please see the 'How to Apply' section below for details on applications for funding

For the 1+3 studentships, students would be enrolled on our cutting-edge MRes in Critical Human Geographies (Streatham Campus).

For the +3 studentships, students would be registered on the MPhil/PhD Human Geography on either the Streatham or Penryn Campus, depending on the location of your lead supervisor.

Both studentship paths will undertake research in areas that align with the work of the ESRC, and will be supported and supervised by leading researchers from our Human Geography research groups: Cultural and Historical Geographies; Space, Politics and Society; Life Geographies; Social Innovation; Environment and Sustainability; Energy Policy.

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 Studentship Application 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.

The ESRC’s requirements for postgraduate training and development can be viewed at

• 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.

However, where only a small component of the required, prior training is missing, the Awards and Ratification Committee / SWDTP Director may exercise discretion and offer a PhD award conditional on the award recipient taking one or more research modules and passing their assessment at a grade of 60% or above in the first year of the recipient’s PhD. In such cases, failure to complete the required modules at this grade threshold may lead to funding being withdrawn.

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.

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 organsiation.

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.

Residency entry requirements:

UKRI have opened up UKRI studentships to international students for 2022/23 entry.  Successful students will receive a full award, to include a stipend and fees at the home level.   Fees-only awards will no longer available. 

The proportion of international students appointed each year through individual doctoral training programmes is limited to 30 percent of the total.

To be classed as a home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  •         Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
  •         Have settled status, or
  •         Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  •         Have indefinite leave to remain or enter

If  you do not meet the criteria above, you would be classed as an International student.

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 2022 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 – Transcript”, “Smith – Annexe A”, “Smith – Collaboration Support”:

• A completed SWDTP Studentship Application Form (Annex A).  This will include your research proposal of 1,300 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.  Please upload your SWDTP Studentship Application form via the 'Annex A' section of the online application system.

• 2 references:
       - 1 Supervisor Supporting Statement form (Annex B) – 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

• Letter(s) of support (ESCR collaboration):  If your project requires external letters of support from prospective collaborators please upload the documents to the "Letter(s) of support (ESRC collaboration)" section in the application form.  If your project does not require an external collaboration letter of support please upload a blank document in the format identified above with the title "Collaborative Support N/A"

• 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 midday Friday 14th January 2022.  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 28th February 2022 and will be held online.

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:14th January 2022
Value:£15,609 per annum for 2021-22
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Enquiries