Prospective NERC students
Student admiring the midnight sun in Greenland. Copyright Jon Hawkings.
NERC awards studentship funding directly to universities and other research organisations, rather than to individual students.
If you are interested in applying for a NERC-funded PhD, please contact the institution where you wish to study directly, as they will manage the entire application process.
NERC no longer awards funding for Master's Degrees.
Types of NERC PhD and training for NERC PhD studentships
NERC award PhD funding to around 350 students per year in institutions throughout the UK to undertake research from across the whole breadth of the NERC science remit. This funding is awarded under two distinct schemes: responsive and focused.
Responsive PhD training
Responsive funding is awarded with no restrictions on the subject area that may be researched beyond needing to be within the NERC science remit.
Over three quarters of all NERC studentships are supported via responsive funding and the vast majority of these studentships are held by NERC doctoral training partnerships (DTPs). DTPs are training partnerships consisting of research organisations and partner organisations from a wide range of backgrounds offering training from across a range of subject areas within the NERC science remit. Responsive mode studentships are also funded attached to large grants as associated studentships.
Focused PhD training
Focused funding is provided to address key technical and academic challenges identified by NERC and our partners. All focused research must therefore be targeted at addressing the issues identified within the remit of the relevant funding opportunity.
This funding is awarded under a number of different schemes including:
- Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs)
- research programme grants associated studentships
- research programme competition studentships
- research centre & survey studentships
- and via advanced skills training awards.
Universal studentship acceptance deadline for NERC DTP and CDT studentships
Please note: 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. The annual universal acceptance deadline for NERC PhD studentship offers will fall on the third Wednesday of March each year (at noon). Any offer made by a NERC DTP or CDT should include details of the universal acceptance deadline for that year.
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 forthcoming academic year are therefore not required to accept an offer formally before this date unless they wish to do so.
View the list of institutions that have been awarded NERC PhD funding for the academic year 2018-19.
If you are interested in applying for any NERC studentship, please contact the institution hosting the studentship for further information.
Undergraduate research experience placements (REPs)
Research experience placements (REPs) aim to address the shortage of individuals with quantitative skills coming into environmental science by offering funding for summer placements to encourage undergraduates studying quantitative subjects to consider a career in environmental science.
REPs are currently supported only in institutions involved in NERC doctoral training partnerships and Centres for Doctoral Training. Please contact these institutions for information on individual REPs and how to apply.
REP awards to support placements in Summer 2019 will be made in early 2019 and advertised by hosting organisations shortly after.
Further information regarding the scheme can be found on the undergraduate research experience placements page