NERC Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP)

Information for students interested in applying for studentships or funding.

Please note there is no route for prospective students to apply directly to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) for a studentship. NERC provides UK universities with doctoral training grants to support NERC-funded studentships. The advertisement of opportunities and recruitment of studentships is managed by the DTP or Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT). Any students interested in NERC-funded studentships should contact the research organisation or university at which they wish to study directly, including information on how to apply and eligibility.

DTPs provide excellent postgraduate research opportunities within the NERC science remit as well as varied professional and technical skills and personal development training.

DTP postgraduate training is delivered in collaboration with partners from a wide range of backgrounds. These include industry, specialist research organisations, charities, non-governmental organisations, government bodies and many more. This is to ensure NERC DTP students are equipped with the skills and experiences to allow them to become world-leaders in their chosen careers.

NERC completed a mid-term evaluation of its first DTP investment.


DTPs are held by higher education institutions either alone or as a consortium with other eligible research organisations and partners. NERC doctoral training partnerships host NERC-funded, and potentially other, PhD students undertaking research in any area of the NERC science remit over a number of annual cohorts.

DTPs provide excellent postgraduate research opportunities as well as varied professional and technical skills and personal development training. Training delivered through DTPs can be drawn from any part of the NERC science remit and research topics are chosen by students and supervisors. This training plays a key part in maintaining the breadth and diversity of our research base and in ensuring that as a community we are responsive to new ideas.

Funding awarded

The first phase of NERC DTPs, Doctoral Training Partnerships 1 (DTP1), invested in five annual student intakes between 2014 and 2018. A total of 15 DTPs were awarded.

The second phase of NERC DTPs, Doctoral Training Partnerships 2 (DTP2), invested in five annual student intakes between 2019 and 2023. A total of 17 DTPs were awarded.

12 month extension to DTP2 funding

NERC has taken the decision to delay the anticipated announcement of opportunity to bid for funding for a third wave of DTPs by 12 months until autumn 2023. NERC will instead extend partnerships awarded through DTP2 for one year (one additional student cohort to start in October 2024).

As part of the Spending Review allocation process, the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Executive Committee and the UKRI Board agreed that UKRI will move to collective working for talent programmes. This includes the training grants that support doctoral students.

Collective working will allow us to harmonise further our talent investments to reduce bureaucracy. It is intended to enable training that, while supporting disciplinary research, makes it easier for students to engage across disciplines to tackle real-world problems and to undertake training in cross-cutting skills where appropriate.

The decision to delay the announcement of opportunity for DTP3 will allow sufficient time to:

  • address recommendations from the cohort training review
  • develop an approach to collective working which will maximise the benefits to postgraduate researchers and the broader NERC community and stakeholders

Contact with any questions.


NERC doctoral training partnerships are discovery science (standard mode) schemes. Standard (sometimes known as ‘responsive’) funding opportunities are open to a wide range of research and approaches within NERC’s remit.

This competition is currently closed, and applications will not be accepted.

Last updated: 11 September 2023

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