2016-17 Projects

The NERC GW4+ DTP aims to recruit the most promising students from the UK and mainland Europe in the field of earth and environmental sciences.  The programme aims to recruit a minimum of 37 students and a maximum of 46 students per year across the partnership based on academic achievement, research potential and personal motivation in the 3 research themes of Solid Earth, Living World and Changing Planet.

Studentships are awarded through two different schemes:  strategic and thematic.  Up to 28 strategic studentships are offered following interview and these are aligned with the priorities of  the individual GW4+ partners covering the DTP’s 3 research themes. Up to 18 thematic studentships are offered following a selection panel meeting on 3rd March 2016.  These are projects that are collaborations of at least two partner organisations that capitalise  on the expertise found in the respective organisations.  Up to 9 of these thematic studentships can be allocated to EU/EEA applicants not ordinarily resident in the UK.  Studentships are awarded to the projects with the strongest applicants.

For projects hosted at a research organisation, the student will be based there, but they will be registered at the university of the academic supervisor in the project advert.  The research organisation supervisor will supervise the student on a daily basis, while the academic supervisor will have primary responsibility for monitoring student progress.  Students may also be located at collaborating universities for part of their PhDs.


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. Applicants with a Lower Second Class degree will be considered if they also have a Master’s degree. Applicants with a minimum Upper Second Class degree and significant relevant non-academic experience are encouraged to apply.  All applicants need to comply with the registered University’s English language requirements. All studentships are available for applicants who are ordinarily resident in the UK and are eligible for home fee rates, and up to 9 thematic studentships are available for students not ordinarily resident in the UK but eligible for home fee rates.  Applicants who are classed as international for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding.

Application process

The 2016-17 projects will be advertised from October 2015-January 2016.  Applicants should identify a project or projects that they would be interested in doing via the research theme pages below, and applicants can find links on those pages to the relevant institutions for completion of the application process.   There is no limit on the number of applications you can make within the Gw4+ partnership.  After submitting the application, applicants may be contacted by the project supervisor(s) to discuss the project in more detail.

During the application process, the University or Research Organisation 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.

The deadline for applications has now closed.

Applications will then be put forward into either the thematic or strategic stream by the University or Research Organisation and applicants will be invited to interview.  Formal interviews will be held across the partnership between the 8 and 19 February 2016.

Interview will be held in the following institutions on these 2016 dates:

University of Bath: 16 February
University of Bristol: 11-17 February
Cardiff University: 11-12 February
University of Exeter: 10-12 February
British Antarctic Survey (BAS): 8 February
British Geological Survey (BGS): 18 February
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH): 12 February
The Natural History Museum (NHM): 9 February
Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) : 10 February

Interviews will last between 20-30 minutes and students will be expected to give a short presentation (approximately 5 minutes) on the day.  Applicants will be evaluated on their academic achievement, understanding of research, self-motivation and research presentations by a multidisciplinary panel of researchers within the respective institution, and occasionally observers from other GW4+ institutions and the DTP hub will attend.

Offers for the strategic studentships will be made following interview, and offers for the thematic studentships will be made following a selection panel meeting on the 3 March 2016. Offers will be honoured by the institutions until the 16 March 2016.


Solid earth

Hancy - Diamond Dove

Living world


Changing planet


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