Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Doctoral Landscape Award 2024

Apply for funding to deliver a doctoral landscape award in the biosciences, in the environmental sciences, or in both. This funding opportunity will enable training for the next generation of researchers in technical and professional skills applicable to a diverse range of careers.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding.

Organisations may be the administrative lead on a maximum of one Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and one Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) application, or organisations can be the administrative lead on one joint BBSRC-NERC application.

Who can apply

This funding opportunity is open to applicants based at organisations that are eligible for UKRI research grant funding. This includes:

  • higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • eligible independent research organisations and Catapult centres
  • public sector research establishments (PSREs)

Before applying for funding, check the Eligibility of your organisation.

Organisations may be the administrative lead on a maximum of one Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and one Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) application or organisations can be the administrative lead on one joint BBSRC-NERC application.

Each application must include:

  • one administrative lead organisation
  • at least one accredited higher education PhD awarding body
  • at least one hosting partner, and may include collaborative partners

Research organisations are highly encouraged to join with hosting and collaborative partners. To ensure delivery of a truly multidisciplinary training environment, consortia are encouraged to engage effectively with other departments across their partner organisations as appropriate.

Organisations that are not eligible for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) research grant funding may act as collaborative partners. Information regarding the nature of this collaboration must be included within the application.

Public sector research establishments wishing to be involved in an application are required to choose whether they wish to do so either as a hosting partner or a collaborative partner. An organisation cannot perform both roles within one application.

Hosting partners

These are organisations that:

  • are eligible for UKRI funding
  • will provide the principal base (host) for students during the duration of the award

You may apply as a single-institution or a multi-institution consortium.

Within a single-institution application, the hosting organisation is the only hosting organisation involved in the application and will act as the administrative lead.

Within a multi-institution consortium, the application should identify one of the hosting partners as the administrative lead partner. The administrative lead does not have to be a higher education doctorate award-making body.

Identification of the administrative lead should not be interpreted as recognition as the dominant partner which will host the majority of studentships.

We encourage single-institution and multi-institution hosting partners to partner with collaborative organisations to deliver their Doctoral Landscape Award.

Collaborative partners

These are organisations that are one of the following:

  • not eligible for UKRI funding
  • eligible for UKRI funding but will not provide the principal base (host) for students during the award

Collaborative partners provide additional benefits to the students’ experience, such as:

  • work experience outside of academia
  • training
  • equipment
  • facilities

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI, BBSRC’s equality, diversity and inclusion action plan and NERC’s diversity and inclusion action plan.

What we're looking for


In May 2022, UKRI announced its transition to collective talent funding across talent initiatives. Following this, in November 2023 the UKRI Doctoral Investment Framework was launched. This frames doctoral support around two types of award – doctoral landscape awards and doctoral focal awards.

Doctoral landscape awards provide:

  • broad, flexible funding to support talented doctoral students to contribute to a vibrant, internationally attractive and world-leading research and innovation system
  • breadth and diversity in the research supported and to ensure that as a community we are rapidly responsive to new and emerging research ideas and areas
  • opportunities for a variety of engagement with non-academic partners

With a view to better attracting, developing, and retaining talented people and teams,
and to reduce the bureaucracy involved in accessing and managing funding, BBSRC and NERC have come together to deliver this funding opportunity.

This funding opportunity replaces our Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) awards.

You have the choice of designing a programme that meets only BBSRC or only NERC disciplinary needs, or one which meets both research council needs. Such a joint award will train students in BBSRC and NERC disciplinary needs but:

  • reduces bureaucracy for applicants through the opportunity to make one bid rather than two separate bids to BBSRC and NERC
  • reduces bureaucracy for successful training grant holders by having one management and administration process

Therefore, your application may be made through the following routes:

  1. BBSRC only
  2. NERC only

We are looking for innovative and inclusive doctoral programmes designed to train students to undertake research and gain the core skills needed for a diversity of careers.

You will be expected to deliver leading edge, frontier research and innovation training across the remit of the associated research council.

Your application must demonstrate that the doctoral landscape training programme offers a scientifically excellent training environment and sufficient high quality research capacity to deliver training across all the areas of the proposed programme. We welcome applications describing innovative models of doctoral training with non-academic partners, including the co-creation of projects and additional training elements designed to meet the objectives of the programme.


This funding opportunity has been designed to meet the following objectives:

  • deliver world-class doctoral research, training and development within dynamic and supportive research and innovation environments
  • provide individual and cohort-based opportunities for students to deepen and acquire skills and experience
  • prepare students to follow a diversity of career paths
  • advance current understanding, generate new knowledge, and develop the breadth of expertise for future economic and societal impact
  • support a diverse doctoral community, which includes addressing areas of underrepresentation (for example protected characteristics, types of professions, career stage and porosity within the research and innovation system)
  • address existing and potential future skills gaps to develop a suitable breadth of researchers
  • enhance collaboration and knowledge exchange within and between academia and other sectors for the benefit of the students, collaborative partners, award holders and, if applicable, and wider society

Training remit

Applications must outline a coherent training programme which demonstrates how students will both undertake individual research projects and receive cohort-level training.

Training delivered by these doctoral landscape awards may build on existing infrastructure where applicable, and engagement with other relevant research council Centres for Doctoral Training and Doctoral Training Partnerships and their end-user networks is encouraged.

BBSRC and NERC doctoral landscape awards should provide PhD training in areas of research relevant to each council’s remit and priority research areas. See BBSRC’s Strategic Delivery Plan and the Forward Look for UK Bioscience report and the NERC’s remit and NERC’s Delivery Plan for more details. We encourage interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary doctoral training programmes and advise against single discipline or narrowly focused applications. Applications may additionally include training at the interface between BBSRC’s or NERC’s remit and other disciplines, where major research challenges exist.

Doctoral landscape award applications must be able to demonstrate high quality provision across the breadth of the science relevant to the research council they are associated with. There is no expectation that a single application, whether it is a single research council or a BBSRC-NERC application, will cover the whole of either research council’s remit. However, both research councils reserve the right to manage the balance of the overall studentship portfolio to ensure broad coverage of their respective remits.

Training requirements

Alignment with UKRI Core Offer

The UKRI Core Offer sets out the expectations for all UKRI studentships, including support and student experience, research skills and methods and professional and career development. This information has been used to define the assessment criteria for this funding opportunity; see the section ‘how we will assess your application’ for further details. All applications must clearly state how the requirements outlined within the UKRI Core Offer will be delivered as part of their application.

Funding opportunity specific training requirements

In addition to the expectations set out within the UKRI Core Offer, there are specific training requirements for this funding opportunity. These are:

  • access for all students to placements, internships or other relevant work experience opportunities (including UKRI policy internships)
    • for BBSRC-funded students: all students must undertake a minimum three-month placement, either through the Professional Internships for PhD students (PIPS) component or through a CASE studentship
    • for NERC-funded students: not all students must complete a placement, however placement opportunities must be made available to all students, and training programmes should be designed with flexibility to enable students to undertake these opportunities if they wish
  • support capacity building and development of digital and data skills in the biosciences and environmental sciences
  • develop commercialisation and entrepreneurial skills across the student cohort

Your application must clearly state how the funding opportunity specific requirements will be delivered as part of your application.


Applications are encouraged to represent a consortium of academic and non-academic organisations, which might include industry, charities, and public sector organisations. There is no stipulation regarding size or geographical spread of consortia.

All partners need to demonstrate that there is significant added value from their inclusion within the partnership. This may include (but is not limited to) financial commitments to underwrite a number of studentships or CASE conversions, a commitment to provision of access to facilities, or training that cannot be otherwise provided by an eligible institution or strategic links to an important stakeholder or user.

Partnerships must show a clear and joint strategy for delivering their vision and fostering the growth and maturation of collaborations over the funding period. Successful applications should demonstrate how students will benefit from engaging with various organisations, both individually and as part of a cohort, utilising diverse mechanisms. Applications must also justify their structure, providing a clear case for the partnership’s size.

CASE studentships and collaborative studentships

CASE studentships are delivered in collaboration with non-academic partners and meet the following requirements:

  • over the lifetime of the award, a minimum of 25% of the total notional studentships within the landscape award must be CASE studentships
  • BBSRC and NERC will review the successful applicants’ CASE compliance throughout the lifetime of the grant via reporting processes and reserve the right to use the outcomes to adjust future studentship cohort allocations
  • the CASE partner or partners must host the student for between three and eighteen months during their PhD. This placement does not need to occur in one single continuous period
  • CASE partners must provide co-supervision

The CASE partners are also encouraged to make a financial contribution to the project including:

  • any costs incurred by the student when visiting and working within their establishment
  • the costs of necessary material
  • facilities not possessed by the research organisation that are integral to the CASE studentship

CASE partner eligibility:

  • organisations eligible for funding from any UKRI Council (excluding Innovate UK) cannot act as a CASE partner
  • international CASE partners are eligible provided they are a non-academic organisation. The training grant holder must evidence that the CASE criteria has been met and that the placement provides an opportunity for the student to gain skills that could not be provided by a UK-based partner. The student must be fully supported by the landscape award partnership and CASE partner throughout the placement period

You must demonstrate within your application the mechanisms you will use to ensure the CASE conversion requirement is met.

As an exception to the above, public sector research establishments (PSREs) are eligible to act as a CASE partner for BBSRC and NERC studentships. PSREs wishing to be involved in an application are required to choose whether they wish to do so either as a hosting partner or a CASE partner.

Further information about CASE studentships is available:



In addition to CASE studentships, any number of studentships may be ‘collaborative’ (for example, no formal partnership requirements). Partners that do not meet the requirements for CASE are considered a collaborative (non-CASE) partner. These collaborative studentships are monitored through reporting process and will be formally recognised as a success metric as part of the ongoing monitoring of the awards.

Management and governance

Partnerships will be expected to describe the governance arrangements that will enable effective decision-making and engagement with all relevant stakeholders to achieve the vision.

The applications must commit to providing sufficient support for appropriate administrative resources. Applications should explicitly outline how administrative structures will be managed and funded. Funds may be allocated for programme management including administration and placement support.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

Equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) is a core feature of this funding opportunity. In line with UKRI’s principles on EDI, we want to work with our partners to shape a dynamic, diverse, and inclusive system of research and innovation that is an integral part of society. In particular, your doctoral landscape programme should work to provide everyone involved with an opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, the award.

Applicants must demonstrate how their EDI strategy will embed the core principles of EDI at all levels and across all aspects of the doctoral programme, including:

  • increasing PhD access, including recruitment
  • working practices, including individualised student support
  • wellbeing support, including mental health
  • monitoring and evaluation, including a baseline and plans for improvement

We would expect your EDI strategy to describe how your doctoral programme is accessible to a diverse range of people and needs, and how you will be removing barriers to participation across your doctoral programme and associated processes. Your application should demonstrate how you will create and maintain a positive, inclusive, and supportive environment for all students and staff.

You should refer to equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI, BBSRC’s equality, diversity and inclusion action plan and NERC’s diversity and inclusion action plan, with a focus on embedding and implementing the good practice principles in recruitment and training at a doctoral level. As a mandatory requirement, the EDI strategies, activities and commitments stated by successful applicants will be regularly reviewed by their respective research council, including, but not limited to, information on characteristics of current and prospective student cohorts. These data will be collected on at least a yearly basis via annual reports and we will reserve the right to access these data if and when appropriate across the lifetime of the award. See the UKRI data collection policy for more information.

Legacy and impact

Landscape awards are supported with the intention of developing a legacy of training excellence. Applications must demonstrate consideration of the legacy and impacts of the doctoral training programme beyond the lifetime of UKRI investment.

Reporting requirements and monitoring

The monitoring of progress towards the vision and objectives as well as evidencing of impact are important components of these programmes. This information will be used by BBSRC and NERC to review the success of our training investments. Information provided will also be used to provide assurance that the landscape awards are being managed appropriately and are progressing in accordance with the original funding application. This will be conducted in various ways, including:

  • mandatory annual reports
  • a mid-term review of progress
  • hosting a regular partnership visit by UKRI staff

Successful applicants will be expected to respond to other reporting requirements when requested.

BBSRC-NERC will describe the key information required from landscape awards in annual reports. This will include diversity statistics for doctoral candidate recruitment, CASE studentships and other collaborative partner engagement, financial leveraging, training, and development activities offered, and examples of doctoral candidate achievements.

Partnerships are expected to describe their approach to monitoring and evaluation, outlining their success measures and baselines and a continuous improvement process built in within their applications.

BBSRC-NERC will oversee and engage with successful applicants to support the delivery of excellent doctoral training.

Flexible fund

The doctoral landscape training programme will include a Flexible Fund to be split across successful applicants. BBSRC and NERC will each award £500,000 per cohort intake for the programme (for the first five consecutive years). Where joint BBSRC-NERC applications are made, funds will be allocated proportionally.

The Flexible Fund can be used to support a range of activities, including support for skills development, network building, or addressing EDI challenges (see relevant EDI sections). Some examples of how these funds can be used is provided in the Flexible Fund question section, detailed below.

The Flexible Fund will be awarded on an annual basis as an additional funding stream, and the exact proportion of this fund will be determined by the notional number of students per training programme per year.

Funding available

Funding opportunity specific funding

BBSRC and NERC will invest in doctoral landscape awards via this funding opportunity. You are asked to state how many students you wish to support via this award, where payment will be on a notional studentship basis. We reserve the right to adjust these numbers to meet the requirements of the funding opportunity.

  • NERC awards:
    • NERC will support notional studentships between three and a half to four years in length. If the full four years of funding is sought, a placement of a minimum of three months should be included and accommodated for within this timeframe
    • NERC will award 185 studentships per year across five cohorts, with a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 15 studentships each year per landscape award
  • BBSRC awards:
    • BBSRC will support notional studentships for four years in length, during which each student will also undertake a three-month Professional Internships for PhD Students (PIPS) placement
    • BBSRC will award 280 students per year across five cohorts with a minimum of 10 and no set maximum of studentships each year per landscape award
  • Joint BBSRC-NERC awards:
    • will support a combination of notional studentships for BBSRC and notional studentships for NERC using the models summarised in the preceding bullets
    • each application must have a minimum of 10 students per cohort. You can apply for up to 15 NERC studentships per cohort and there is no cap on the number of BBSRC studentships which can be requested
    • for example, if 10 studentships are awarded in total, containing three NERC and seven BBSRC studentships, successful applicants would receive funding for three notional NERC studentships and seven notional BBSRC studentships. Requests for each type of studentship will need to be indicated as part of the application

A notional studentship consists of sufficient funds to meet the annual UKRI minimum stipend and fee levels, plus additional research, placement and management costs. Awards will be supplemented with London allowance where eligible.

The indicative funding per notional studentship for each research council is provided below. The student stipend and fees are indicative estimates only, based on the 2023 to 2024 research council minima multiplied by four, and excluding London allowance (at the time of award, stipend and fees will be indexed to accommodate rises in the minimum stipend and fees levels over the lifetime of the award).

Stipend: £74,488
Fees: £18,848
Research Training Support Grant (RTSG): £20,000
Programme Management: £2,000
Total: £ 115,336

Stipend: £74,488
Fees: £18,848
Research Training Support Grant (RTSG): £11,000
Programme Management: £2,000
Flexible Fund:
Total: £106,336

Additionally, all landscape awards will receive a flexible fund share. BBSRC and NERC will each award £500,000 per cohort intake for the programme (for the first five consecutive years). Where joint BBSRC-NERC applications are made, funds will be allocated proportionally.

The programme management header above can be used as a contribution towards placements, conferences, and administrative costs. A contribution towards operational management costs has been included within the above indicative funding calculation in recognition of the need to manage the partnership. BBSRC and NERC acknowledge that this does not reflect the full cost of landscape doctoral training programme administrative structures. In line with the requirements in the management section, adequate funds must therefore be committed by you from either flexibility within the training grant, leveraged support, or a combination of sources.

If successful you will have flexibility in how you use the funding awarded and we encourage flexibility and virement between headings, subject to the standard UKRI terms and conditions of training grants. Be aware that the minimum numbers of students will still need to be supported each year, with the minimum number of notional studentships allocated by each research council, respectively.

Given the flexibility in use of funding, it will be possible for you to use the training grant to support more than the minimum number of students each year. For example, this could be achieved by having students undertake training over a variety of timeframes and by co-funding students from other sources.

To be classed as a student of a particular research council, students must be funded at least 50% by that research council’s training grant (for example, to be classed as a BBSRC student, that student must be funded at least 50% by BBSRC). We support co-funding to be used from non-research council sources to part-fund additional doctoral landscape training programme students. The details of these students can be registered for reporting purposes.

You may use funding to leverage additional investment (either as cash or in-kind support) from multiple stakeholders, however, there is no formal requirement from either research council for match-funded studentships or cash leverage for this funding opportunity.

BBSRC: £180 Million across five cohort intakes
NERC: £108 Million across five cohort intakes

Services and facilities (NERC only)

Funding for NERC services and facilities cannot be requested as part of a training grant application. Students wishing to use NERC services and facilities must fund the costs of doing so using research training support grant (RTSG) funds or gain access to facilities through other routes.

Anyone wishing to use a NERC service or facility must contact the facility to seek agreement that they can provide the service required.

Read about NERC’s facilities, ships, aircraft and stations.

Data management (NERC only)

It is NERC policy to increase the visibility and awareness of environment data and to improve their management as a resource.

The landscape awards funded through this funding opportunity should therefore ensure that relevant NERC environmental data centres are aware of significant datasets generated, or to be compiled, under the award so that their long-term stewardship can be planned.

For details of data centres, see the NERC Environmental Data Service.

Responsible research

Through our funding processes, we seek to make a positive contribution to society and the environment. This is not just through research outputs and outcomes but through the way in which research is conducted and facilities managed.

All doctoral landscape awards are to adopt responsible research practices as set out in UKRI responsible innovation.

How to apply

Notification of Intent

A notification of intent to submit a full application must be submitted by 7 March 2024 at 4:00pm.

Submit a notification of intent

Tell us the organisations that are expected to be involved as hosting and collaborative partners and include a title and summary of your planned work. This will not be assessed, but we will use the information to plan the application assessment.

Full applications submitted without a prior notification of intent will be rejected.

Full applications

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

The project lead is responsible for completing the application process on the Funding Service, but we expect all team members and project partners to contribute to the application.

Only the lead research organisation can submit an application to UKRI.

Watch our recording on how to apply for an opportunity in the Funding Service.

To apply

Select ‘Start application’ near the beginning of this Funding finder page.

  1. Confirm you are the project lead.
  2. Sign in or create a Funding Service account. To create an account, select your organisation, verify your email address, and set a password. If your organisation is not listed, email
  3. Allow at least 10 working days for your organisation to be added to the Funding Service.
  4. Answer questions directly in the text boxes. You can save your answers and come back to complete them or work offline and return to copy and paste your answers. If we need you to upload a document, follow the upload instructions in the Funding Service. All questions and assessment criteria are listed in the ‘How to apply’ section on this Funding finder page.
  5. Allow enough time to check your application in ‘read-only’ view before sending to your research office.
  6. Send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.
  7. Your research office will submit the completed and checked application to UKRI.

Where indicated, you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. You should:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words
  • insert each new image onto a new line
  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)
  • ensure that files are smaller than 5MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

For more guidance on the Funding Service, see:


We must receive your application by 30 April 2024 at 4.00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Make sure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines.

Following the submission of your application to the funding opportunity, your application cannot be changed, and applications will not be returned for amendment. If your application does not follow the guidance, it may be rejected.

Personal data

UKRI will need to collect some personal information to manage your Funding Service account and the registration of your funding applications.

We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

Publication of outcomes

BBSRC will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity on What BBSRC has funded.

NERC will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity on What NERC has funded.

If your application is successful, we will publish some personal information on the UKRI Gateway to Research.


Word count: 550

In plain English, provide a summary we can use to identify the most suitable experts to assess your application.

We may make this summary publicly available on external-facing websites, so make it suitable for a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion-formers
  • policymakers
  • the public
  • the wider research community

Clearly describe your proposed work in terms of:

  • context
  • aims and objectives

Core team

List the key members of your team and assign them roles from the following:

  • project lead (PL)
  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL)
  • grant manager
  • researcher co-lead

Only list one individual as project lead. They should be from the administrative lead organisation.

The project lead is responsible for setting up and completing the application process on the Funding Service.

You can list multiple co-leads. Each hosting partner organisation should list a co-lead on the application.

Find out more about UKRI’s core team roles in funding applications.

Application questions


Word limit: 500

What is the training grant going to achieve and why is it important for UKRI to support it?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed training grant:

  • has a clear vision and objectives with tracking measures
  • is grounded in a model of a highly skilled doctoral graduate, employable across a range of sectors and careers
  • outlines research and innovation expertise in designated disciplines to provide training and address skills and capacity challenges within the organisations and the partnership.
  • describes its anticipated outcomes and impact for society and the economy, outlining the strategies to achieve them
  • the lead organisation and partnership need to demonstrate their research capability in the designated disciplinary area, as evidenced by their research and innovation strategy and proven track record
  • the Vision section should demonstrate the investments made in both infrastructure and people across the assessment criteria for both the organisations and the partnership
  • you should specify the number of studentships being requested

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.


Word limit: 1,500

How will your doctoral training programme support your vision, and align with UKRI’s ambitions for its doctoral investments?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your training programme will:

  • deliver the vision outlined for this doctoral training programme
  • embed a holistic approach to doctoral training and development that delivers high quality doctoral research, integrating in-depth subject knowledge, research and methodological skills, and wider skills development opportunities
  • prepare researchers to operate across interdisciplinary, collaborative and challenge-led environments
  • develop globally competitive researchers, able to use their skills to thrive across a range of sectors and careers
  • maintain links with doctoral graduates to track career pathways and to benefit current and future student cohorts

You should demonstrate how your student-centred training programme will:

  • catalyse student research, and provide doctoral training and development of excellent quality and importance within, or beyond, the discipline, field or area
  • deliver appropriate, tailored and innovative training, guidance and opportunities to enhance students’ wider research skills development. This should cover as a minimum:
    • in-depth subject area training
    • responsible research and innovation, ethics, reproducibility, research integrity and open research methodology
    • data management and analytical skills
    • communication and project management skills
    • interdisciplinary working
    • public engagement skills
    • routes to impact including through knowledge exchange, commercialisation and entrepreneurship
  • enable different routes for non-HEI partners to participate in the collaboration, co-creation and delivery of student training
  • foster interdisciplinary collaboration and expand networks both within and beyond the research organisation disciplines and sectors, both nationally and, if applicable, internationally
  • provide high-quality professional development options and careers advice to students throughout their training which recognises and promotes the diversity of careers
  • enable students to actively manage and direct their research and project training as well as their own professional and career development, working with and beyond their supervisory team, leading to improved awareness of the skills and experiences that would benefit their careers in a range of working environments across different sectors
  • maintain links with your doctoral graduates, utilising this network of alumni to track career pathways and to benefit current and future student cohorts

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

Student experience and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

Word limit: 1,500

How will you create and maintain an inclusive and supportive culture and environment for all those involved in the training grant?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

You should demonstrate how you will:

  • create and maintain a positive, inclusive, and supportive environment for all students and staff, addressing a diversity of needs
  • champion equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) across all aspects of the training grant, including recruitment, supervision and flexible student support
  • provide evidence for proposed EDI activities, including baseline and subsequent updates across the lifetime of the award

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) will be a core feature of this award. You should describe how your overall EDI strategy will enable the wide participation of doctoral candidates and staff across a range of characteristics and backgrounds, and what support systems will be in place to accommodate a diversity of needs. You should demonstrate how you will embed evidence-based EDI principles and practices at all levels and in all aspects of research and training practice across the lifetime of the award, including:

  • increasing PhD access
    • how will the applicant ensure that the training opportunities attract a wide range of applicants from different social, cultural and educational backgrounds? How will applicants recognize underrepresented gaps and make this process be open and transparent?
  • working practices
    • discuss how you will support students and staff who require a flexible working pattern due to personal circumstances, such as parenting or caring responsibilities, health-related reasons and cultural expectations
  • supervision and supervisory teams
    • detail how you will deliver comprehensive inductions for new supervisors, as well as supporting continuous professional development for established supervisory teams, in line with an inclusive culture of excellent research supervision
    • how will you embed EDI values when considering staff across the wider supervisory team?
  • wellbeing support
    • propose a strategy to embed the support and provision of good physical and mental health, and wellbeing practices, for students and their supervisory teams
    • detail how you will promote a positive culture of listening to staff and student feedback, including the transparent management of complaints
  • monitoring and evaluation
    • successful applicants will be expected to provide diversity statistics and inform their future actions based on these analyses for each stage of the recruitment process for doctoral candidates in the annual monitoring
    • what progress indicators will you use to indicate and measure improvement in diversity and inclusion and why are these the most appropriate?
    • detail how you will provide evidence for your proposed EDI actions, including a baseline and subsequent updates throughout the lifetime of the grant

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

Capability to deliver

Word limit: 1,500

Who will lead and deliver the training grant?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide evidence that you and your team collectively have:

  • relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to lead the training grant
  • appropriate skills, including project management, leadership, stakeholder management, administrative skills, supervisory and research skills and pastoral capacity to support the number of studentships you are applying for
  • a well-evidenced track record of contributing to a positive research culture and the wider community
  • a well-evidenced track record of supporting the training and development of others, particularly previous involvement in delivering doctoral training successfully

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

The word count for this section is 1,500 words to be used for R4RI modules for all team members, and, if necessary, a further 500 words for Additions for all team members.

Use the Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format to showcase the range of relevant skills you and your team have and how this will help to deliver the proposed work. You can include individuals’ specific achievements but only choose past contributions that best evidence their ability to deliver this work.

Complete this section using the R4RI module headings listed. Use each heading once and include a response for the whole team, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer, and emphasise where appropriate the key skills each team member brings:

  • contributions to the generation of new ideas, tools, methodologies, or knowledge
  • the development of others and maintenance of effective working relationships
  • contributions to the wider research and innovation community
  • contributions to broader research or innovation users and audiences and towards wider societal benefit

Provide any further details relevant to your application. This section is optional and can be up to 500 words. You should not use it to describe additional skills, experiences, or outputs of the lead applicant and of the team. You should use it to list any factors that provide context for the rest of your R4RI (for example, details of career breaks if you wish to disclose them).

Complete this as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new Funding Service.

For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.

Partnerships and governance

Word limit: 1,500

How will the training grant be governed, including collaboration between research organisations and non-academic partners?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide evidence that research organisations and their non-academic partners collectively:

  • are committed to working together and contributing to the delivery of the training grant award
    • have a strategy for managing partnerships between and within organisations
    • have established a clear governance structure for the training grant award, with responsibilities outlined, and processes in place to ensure the training grant is well governed and all relevant partners as well as the student community are engaged
    • have established an approach to risk management, continuous improvement, monitoring and evaluation

The word count for this section is 1500 words: 1000 for the narrative about governance and 500 for a joint partnership letter if applicable. The joint partnership letter must include all hosting partners. You may also wish to include collaborative partners within the joint partnership letter if applicable.

Each applicant must:

  • set up a clear governance structure, including mechanisms to enable student engagement in the governance of the training grant
  • present how they will use the resources and bring value for money to deliver the vision
  • provide evidence that they have an appropriate research environment for students in terms of location, services, facilities, equipment, supervisory expertise, partnerships, student services and work culture, and ensure the partner organisations also offer such suitable environment for students who spend part of their studentship time there
  • follow a robust approach to monitoring and evaluation, with a set of defined success measures and baselines and a continuous improvement process built in
  • consider the final stages of the training grant award, and how to secure its legacy
  • show how the proposed partnerships are equitable and how they add value to the breadth and provision of high-quality doctoral training and development

We encourage applicants to co-create the training grant application with non-academic partners.

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

Funding route

Word count: 3

Which funding route is applicable for your application.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

In the text box enter the relevant option from this list:

  • NERC
  • BBSRC-NERC joint

Flexible Fund

Word count: 500

How will the first allocation of the Flexible Fund be used to support the doctoral landscape award?

The Flexible Fund must be used to benefit those associated with the landscape award, which could refer to students, associated staff or both. It can also be used to increase access to potential future students of the programme, for example, widening participation activities. We would expect you to use the flexible support fund to complement and support the proposed training and EDI plan you have provided within your application.

The Flexible Fund can be rolled over to subsequent years, for example, if there is a plan for an ongoing activity across multiple years of student intake. All Flexible Fund activities and their subsequent progress will need to be recorded in the mandatory annual report. It will also be the successful applicant’s responsibility to keep and maintain records of Flexible Fund activity expenditure.

Some specific examples are given below, but we encourage each applicant to think creatively about how they may use these funds:

  • widening participation activities, for example improving recruitment of underrepresented groups to the doctoral programme or developing networks for students with protected characteristics
  • supplementary* funding for undergraduate research experience placements (REPs). REPs can address demographic and diversity-related challenges as well as helping to address skills gaps in biological and environmental sciences
  • cohort training and development of core or vulnerable skills
  • EDI training for supervisors of funded students (for example, mental health first aider training)
  • supporting student entrepreneurship in the biological and environmental sciences
  • supplementary funds for student placements
  • supporting the integration of data science, AI and machine learning approaches for the biological and environmental sciences
  • cohort training in transferable skills (for example, leadership, project management)
  • cross-doctoral training programme training and network building, for example theme-specific symposia

*NERC will endeavour to continue to support REPs as a separate scheme, see NERC undergraduate research experience placements (REPS) for more details.

Project partners

Provide details about any project partners’ contributions. You should include any project partners (hosting or collaborative) who have made a commitment to the partnership for the duration of the award.

Add details about any project partners’ contributions. If there are no project partners, you can indicate this on the Funding Service.

A project partner is a collaborating organisation who will have an integral role in the proposed doctoral landscape award. This may include direct (cash) or indirect (in-kind) contributions such as access to facilities, equipment, materials or data, staff time or training provision.

Add the following project partner details:

  • organisation name and address (searchable via a drop-down list or enter the organisation’s details manually, as applicable)
  • project partner contact name and email address
  • type of contribution (direct or in-direct) and its monetary value

If a detail is entered incorrectly and you have saved the entry, remove the specific project partner record and re-add it with the correct information.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process:

Expert review

We will invite a panel of experts to review your application. Panel members will independently assess your application against the specified criteria for this funding opportunity and make comments directly related to your application.

You will have 10 working days to respond to the panel’s comments.


Following the review stage, the panel of experts will use your initial application and your response to assess the quality of your application and rank it alongside other applications after which the panel will make a funding recommendation.

BBSRC and NERC will make the final funding decision.


We aim to complete the assessment process within six months of the funding opportunity closing date.


We will give feedback with the outcome of your application.

Portfolio balancing

The panel will provide a recommendation to the executive with a view to creating a balanced portfolio from the highest quality applications. In balancing, the panel and the executive will consider the following:

  • diversity of higher education institution types and non-HEI partner organisations, to ensure all funded consortia are diverse and collaborate with a diverse group of partner organisations
  • research focus, to ensure broad coverage of the BBSRC and NERC remits
  • geographic coverage, to ensure the landscape awards are located across the UK

Principles of assessment

We support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

We reserve the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Assessment criteria

The criteria against which your application will be assessed are:

  • vision
  • approach
  • capability to deliver
  • student experience and EDI
  • partnerships and governance

Find details of assessment questions and criteria under the ‘Application questions’ heading in the ‘How to apply’ section.

The Flexible Fund question will not be assessed by the panel but will be reviewed by BBSRC and NERC against the following criteria:

a. Whether the proposed activities meet the objectives of the funding

b. Whether the proposed mechanisms for delivery are appropriate

The award amount will be confirmed by BBSRC and NERC if successful.

Contact details

Get help with your application

Important note: The Helpdesk is committed to helping users of the UKRI Funding Service as effectively and as quickly as possible. In order to manage cases at peak volume times, the Helpdesk will triage and prioritise those queries with an imminent opportunity deadline or a technical issue. Enquiries raised where information is available on the Funding Finder opportunity page and should be understood early in the application process (for example, regarding eligibility or content/remit of an opportunity) will not constitute a priority case and will be addressed as soon as possible.

Contact details

For help and advice on costings and writing your application, contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

For questions related to this specific funding opportunity, contact:

Any queries regarding the system or the submission of applications through the Funding Service should be directed to the helpdesk.

Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

To help us process queries quicker, we request that users highlight the council and opportunity name in the subject title of their email query, include the application reference number, and refrain from contacting more than one mailbox at a time.

You can also find information on submitting an application.

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, email:



Include in the subject line: Doctoral Landscape award; sensitive information; your Funding Service application number.

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • individual is unavailable until a certain date (for example due to parental leave)
  • declaration of interest
  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriately shared in the ‘Capability to deliver’ section
  • conflict of interest for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection

For information about how UKRI handles personal data, read UKRI’s privacy notice.

Additional info

Webinar for potential applicants

We held on 27 February 2024.

Watch the webinar recording.

Passcode: S^X3L7^q

Frequently asked questions from the webinar on 27 February 2024 (PDF, 103 KB).

Our commitment to the principles of the Modern Slavery Act 2015

Modern slavery is a crime and a violation of fundamental human rights. It takes various forms which deprive a person of their liberty in order to exploit them for personal or commercial gain, such as:

  • slavery
  • servitude
  • human trafficking
  • forced and compulsory labour

We are committed to the principles of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, and the abolition of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 214KB)


  • 23 April 2024
    'Researcher co-lead' added under the 'Core team' heading in the 'How to apply' section.
  • 2 February 2024
    Equality impact assessment document added under 'Supporting documents' in the 'Additional info' section.

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