2017 Projects

The NERC GW4+ DTP aims to recruit the most promising students from the UK and mainland Europe in the earth and environmental sciences.  Between 37 and 48 fully funded studentships comprising of fees and stipend in line with RCUK rates, an £11,000 Research and Training Support Grant and £4000 training budget are available in the 3 research themes of Solid Earth, Living World and Changing Planet.  Studentships are offered to students who have shown excellent academic achievement or have gained considerable research experience in another domain, show excellent potential to continue in scientific research and can demonstrate their personal motivation for their research topic.  Applications for CASE projects are likely to be looked favourably upon in the application process.

Click on the tabs below to take you to the projects advertised this year for each of the research themes.  Given the multidisciplinary nature of some projects, applicants are encouraged to browse through each of the themes for projects that may be of interest.  Applications for projects commencing 2017 are now closed.


Solid earth

Hancy - Diamond Dove

Living world


Changing planet


Studentships are available to students meeting UK residency requirements as set as described by UKCISA.  UP to 9 fully-funded studentships are also available to students from EU countries that do not meet UK residency requirements but who have been ordinarily resident in a member state of the EU.  All applicants need to comply with the registered University’s English language requirements.  Enquiries on individual student eligibility for NERC GW4+ studentships should be made to the contacts below.  Enquiries for projects based at Research Organisations should be made, in the first instance, to the same contact below at the university at which the project will be registered .

Bath: t.s.brend@bath.ac.uk

Bristol: pg-admissions@bristol.ac.uk

Cardiff: postgradenquiries@cardiff.ac.uk

Exeter: exeter-nerc-gw4+@exeter.ac.uk

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.

Application process

Applications for projects commencing 2017 are now closed.

Applications are managed by the partners within the DTP and prospective students should apply directly to the university or research organisation at which the project or projects are based.  Applicants should identify projects that they are interested in either via the university or research organisation website or via the research theme panels below.  Once a project/s has been identified, we encourage applicants to contact the lead supervisor and discuss the project through with them.

University of BathHow to apply for Bath projects
University of BristolHow to apply for Bristol projects.  On the Programme Choice page drop down menu please select the NERC Great Western Four+ Doctoral Training Programme DTP PhD.  When you reach the end of the application pages after the CV page, on the Great Western Four+ Doctoral Training Partnership (NERC) page please specify the School of your project choice. Please note that you will need to make a separate application for each project.
Cardiff UniversityHow to apply for Cardiff projects
University of ExeterHow to apply for Exeter projects. On the funding form at the link provided, please: i) select the discipline/department of your lead supervisor and ii) select the title of the Award you are applying for (title will start with “NERC GW4+ DTP PhD studentship”)
British Antarctic Survey : How to apply for BAS projects.  Please apply directly to the main supervisor listed under the the project with a CV, covering letter, 2 referee details and transcripts
British Geological Survey : How to apply for BGS projects
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology : Please apply directly to the main supervisor listed under the the project with a CV and cover letter
Natural History Museum : Please read the eligibility criteria and the application guidance on the Natural History Museum PhD studentships webpage. On completion of your application, please send via e-mail to postgradoffice@nhm.ac.uk
Plymouth Marine Laboratory : How to apply for PML projects

Each project has been carefully thought through, not only in terms of the subject, but also with regard to the collaborations on the project and the training opportunities over the duration of the project.   Applicants are encouraged to discuss these opportunities with the project’s main supervisor.  There is no limit on the number of applications you can make within the Gw4+ partnership and after submitting their 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.


Interviews will be held across the partnership from 6 – 17 February 2017.

Interviews will be held in the following institutions on these 2017 dates (weekdays only):

University of Bath: 13 February
University of Bristol: 9-15 February
Cardiff University: 9-10 February
University of Exeter: 7-9 February
British Antarctic Survey (BAS): 17 February
British Geological Survey (BGS): TBC
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH): 6 February
The Natural History Museum (NHM): 16 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 studentships will be made following interview and offers will be honoured by the institutions until the 15 March 2017.


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