Large grants associated studentships

Large grants support adventurous, large-scale and complex research tackling big science questions that cannot be addressed through other NERC funding opportunities.

Whilst these studentships provide individuals with specialist and general skills that are valuable both to our community and the UK economy more generally, the award is not based on the delivery of particular specialist skills (such as to meet a specific skills gap or need).

Next funding opportunity

Outline proposals - opens 4 December 2018, closes 16:00 on 12 March 2019
Full proposals - opens July 2019, closes November 2019 (dates tbc)

Find out more about NERC large grant applications.


As part of the main application for the NERC large grants funding opportunity, applicants are able to request an associated studentship for their proposal. A large grants associated studentship should constitute a distinct project, providing added value to a research large grant. The main research grant should still be viable without the studentship and should have distinct objectives that are not reliant on the studentship.

The student is expected to be able to develop novel research ideas while benefiting from working in a unique training environment affording opportunities such as being embedded within a managed programme/consortia and exposure to wider research group interactions; eg at science meetings. NERC will therefore not accept proposals where a student is the only dedicated researcher/staff member on a grant, including individual component grants of joint proposals.

Funding can be included in large grant applications to support associated studentships. The research undertaken through a project studentship should be closely associated with the work carried out in the grant but still constitute a distinct project. Large grant associated studentships must receive the same level of provision of training and supervision that would be expected for any other NERC research student. These expectations are outlined in the Statement of Expectations for Doctoral Training, available on the UKRI website - external link.

Assessment process

To ensure that Large grant associated studentships meet these training expectation, from November 2013, all large grant associated studentship applications will be assessed under the following NERC success criteria:

  • research excellence
  • training excellence
  • multidisciplinary training environment
  • ability to attract excellent students.

Research excellence of associated studentships will be reviewed at the moderating panel. Training excellence, multidisciplinary training environment and the ability to attract excellent students will be assessed in office by members of the NERC Research Careers Team. Should the NERC Research Careers feel that an associated studentship is unsuitable for funding under these criteria, a final opinion will be requested from a member of the Training Advisory Group to confirm the final funding decision. Further information regarding these assessment criteria is available in the Large grant full bid panel meetings guidance, available on the handbooks and forms page.

Large grant associated studentships success criteria (PDF, 63KB)

Funding available

Funding for large grant studentships is included in a large grant application and, if successful, stipend/fees costs will be funded at 100% and other costs provided at 80% FEC. A project studentship may be held as a CASE award, if appropriate.


The eligibility criteria for research organisations intending to apply for a large grant and requesting an associated studentship are included in the NERC research grants and fellowships handbook, and the studentships themselves will be governed by the UKRI harmonised training grant terms & conditions - external link.