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Postgraduate Study - PhD and Research Degrees

Natural Environment Research Council GW4+ Doctoral Training Partnership (NERC GW4+)

Applications for September 2024 entry are now CLOSED. 

Details below provide guidance on the studentships for 2024 entry.  

Please return in Autumn 2024 when we will have more PhD projects available for studentships starting in October 2025.



Information for Applicants

We are now accepting applications for PhD projects commencing Autumn 2024 covering the full breadth of Earth, Environmental and Life Sciences. Subject to funding arrangements, up to 24 fully funded studentships (across partner institutions) are available comprising:

  • An index-linked stipend for 3.5 years at the standard UKRI rate, currently £18,622 p.a. for 2023/24;

  • University tuition fees at the standard UKRI rate, currently £4,712 p.a.

  • Research budget of £11,000 for an international conference, lab, field and research expenses;

  • Individual training budget of £3,250 specialist training courses and travel and accommodation on courses.

Some projects are CASE projects which are co-developed with industrial, commercial and charity end-users of research and provide additional benefits, such as a paid internship outside the academic setting and an additional research budget.

For available projects, click on our research theme or academic institution buttons here:

Dynamic Earth projects (Earth Sciences, Resources, Planetary Geology)

Living World Projects (Life Sciences, Biodiversity, Ecology, Genomics, Evolution)

Changing Planet projects (Geographical Sciences, Climate Change, Atmosphere, Oceans, Hydrology)

Many projects are interdisciplinary – please explore all research themes to find your project! Please note that you can apply for more than one project across the Partnership within a different institution.

How to apply

Please follow instructions from the useful links section at the end of each individual project descriptions. If you require any assistance, please email

Application deadline: 2359 hours GMT Tuesday 9 January 2024.
Update: Interviews are expected to take place between Monday 26 February to Friday 8 March 2024.

For more information about the NERC GW4+ DPT please visit

If you are interested in applying, please take the time to read the guidance and draft answers for our Personal Statement form that we ask you to complete. You will automatically be provided with this form by the Institution to whom you apply so no need to send a copy to the DTP as well. We just want you to familiarise yourself with the form as it will take at least a day to draft. 

Download the GW4+ Personal Statement 2024

The GW4+ Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) consists of the GW4 Alliance of the world-class research-intensive Universities of Bath, Bristol and Exeter and Cardiff University plus five unique and prestigious Research Organisation partners: British Antarctic Survey, British Geological Survey, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the Natural History Museum and Plymouth Marine Laboratory. Drawing upon the resources of these institutions and our government, business and research partners, we provide a comprehensive and effective training programme for our PhD researchers which includes:

  • In house training in transferable skills e.g. statistics, programming, presenting, communicating;

  • Advanced training in specialised research skills required for specific projects (using individual training budget);

  • Training in academic writing and publishing, creative thinking and research networking;

  • Resilience and well-being;

  • Multi-disciplinary training events and conferences aimed at developing scientific collaboration;

  • Public engagement and outreach to the next generation of scientists

  • Full careers development programme, including the opportunity to undertake paid internships of up to 3 months in science policy making, science consultancy, conservation, technology, business, exploration and research both in the UK and overseas.

Our comprehensive and effective training and careers development programme is designed to prepare our PhD researchers to take on future leadership roles in science, technology, business and policy making.

We welcome applications from students in relevant NERC’s science disciplines plus those with degrees in physics, engineering, mathematics, statistics and computer programming. Detailed candidate requirements and a supervisor contact email are provided on the project descriptions. Please email the supervisor if you have any questions about your suitability for the project you are interested in.

Applicants should have obtained, or be about to obtain, a first-or upper second-class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK.  If you have a 2:2 undergraduate degree classification, we can consider other experience, expertise or talent relevant to the research process alongside your degree, for example a master’s degree or experience gained in the workplace. You will have an opportunity to describe this in more detail in your application.

Eligibility for full studentships including the payment of university tuition fees at the standard UKRI rate for ‘home’ students has changed. The requirements for eligibility as a ‘home’ student are detailed and complex and cannot be fully summarised here. However, as a very brief general guide, the following are the main categories of candidates normally eligible for ‘home’ student status:

  • UK nationals who meet the residency requirements (see Note 1 below). Temporary periods overseas for study or employment are allowed subject to conditions;

  • Children of UK nationals who are not themselves UK nationals. Both they and their parent(s) must meet the residency requirements (see Note 1);

  • Irish nationals living in the UK or Ireland covered by the Common Travel Area arrangement;

  • EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals with ‘settled status’ (see Note 2 below);

  • EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals with ‘pre-settled’ status’ (see Note 2), provided they also meet the residency requirements (Note 1);

  • Those with indefinite leave to remain or enter.

Note 1: The main residency requirement is to have lived continuously in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, EEA, Switzerland, or Gibraltar for at least 3 years prior to the start of the PhD (in most cases this will be the end of September 2021). There are other more detailed qualifying conditions.

Note 2: Citizens’ Rights under the EU Withdrawal, EEA EFTA Separation and Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreements.

NB. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of rules governing those eligible for ‘home’ student status. The requirements are detailed and complex and it will not be possible to make a definitive ruling on eligibility until you are shortlisted for interview.

Those not meeting the nationality and residency requirements to be treated as a ‘home’ student may apply for a limited number of full studentships for international students. Although international students are usually charged a higher tuition fee rate than ‘home’ students, those international students offered a NERC GW4+ Doctoral Training Partnership full studentship starting in 2024 will only be charged the ‘home’ tuition fee rate (which will be covered by the studentship). 

International applicants need to be aware that you will have to cover the cost of your student visa, healthcare surcharge and other costs of moving to the UK to do a PhD from your own funds

More information will be available from the universities you are applying to (contact details are provided in the project description that you are interested in).

Our Postgraduate Funding webpage provides links to further information.

Current available funding