Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) - NERC

Information about applying for studentship or funding

Prospective students can’t apply directly to NERC for a studentship. 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.

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 Doctoral training partnership (DTP) or Centre for doctoral training (CDT).

NERC supports CDT investment to provide focused investment into areas of priority to address training needs within the NERC remit. CDTs are supported with the intention of developing a legacy of training excellence from an initial, directed NERC investment.

Following the initial NERC investment, it is expected that NERC CDTs either:

  • become self-sufficient through investment from other sources, such as NERC DTP funding or industrial investment
  • submit a new evidence submission to NERC detailing how their remit remains or re-focuses an existing training priority for consideration for CDT investment
  • cease following the completion of the final studentship.

How to apply to become a CDT

Institutions eligible for NERC research funding can apply to become a CDT either alone or as a consortium with other eligible research organisations.

What a CDT provides students

NERC CDTs provide students with skills and training within priority areas identified by NERC and our partners and the wider community.

This training should be delivered in collaboration with non-academic partners, and, over the course of their studentships, individuals should also have opportunities to undertake collaborative research and training with non-academic partners.

The research and skills areas that will form the focus of the doctoral training will be specific to each NERC CDT, as will the nature and format of any engagement with non-academic partners.

What funding is available

Funding will be awarded to each CDT to support a number of cohorts of students. This funding will support the students’ stipends, fees and Research Training Support Grant as well as providing training opportunities to develop the particular, specialist skills linked to the strategic priorities or skill needs associated with the CDT.

The number of students required to be offered as CASE varies between each CDT.

Eligibility for CDT funding

The eligibility criteria for each CDT funding opportunity are specific to each call and will be contained within the call Announcement of Opportunity document.

Current CDT awards

NERC CDTs award studentships on behalf of NERC and should be contacted for all studentship queries. The CDTs oversee the entire process of awarding PhD studentships and do this at their own discretion. Do not contact NERC for information concerning studentships.

The current list of awarded CDTs can be found below:

CDT in freshwater bioscience and sustainability

The Centre for Doctoral Training in freshwater bioscience and sustainability will train the next generation of UK environmental scientists in the specialist, interdisciplinary and transferrable skills necessary to monitor, evaluate, and sustainably manage freshwater resources to meet the needs of the wide range of relevant stakeholders.

CDT in modelling and quantitative skills in ecology and evolution

The Centre for Doctoral Training in modelling and quantitative skills in ecology and evolution will train the next generation of UK environmental scientists in various aspects of data collection, modelling, statistical analysis and inference with input from a range of quantitative disciplines, producing researchers with substantial quantitative expertise capable of developing new theoretical modelling methods.

CDT in the use of smart and autonomous observation for the environmental sciences

The Centre for Doctoral Training in the use of smart and autonomous observation for the Environmental Sciences will provide specialised training in this increasingly vital area, creating a community of highly skilled people whose expertise will contribute both to scientific breakthroughs and to economic growth. The CDT is funded by NERC and EPSRC.

CDT in risk and mitigation, using big data

The Centre for Doctoral Training in risk and mitigation; using big data will address increasing and emerging skills needs in these areas and strengthen the flow of knowledge and skilled people into research, to the insurance sector and to policymakers. The training will include interdisciplinary studentships co-funded by NERC and ESRC.

NERC-BBSRC Joint CDT in soil science

The NERC and BBSRC Joint CDT in soil science will train a highly skilled community of researchers with transferable skills, and an ability to integrate plant, soil, water and land management to address future research needs.

NERC CDT in oil and gas

The NERC Centre for Doctoral Training in oil and gas will provide training to create a highly skilled workforce with expertise that can be used across the wider energy and environment sectors, as well as filling skills gaps in the oil and gas sector.

CDTs in renewable energy

These Centres for Doctoral Training in renewable energy help ensure the UK remains at the forefront of sustainable energy production by providing training to create a highly skilled community of researchers with expertise that can be used across the renewable energy sector.

The training will be co-funded by NERC and EPSRC, which will support research at the cutting edge of engineering and environmental science.

Centre for Doctoral Training in Earth Observation: Data for Earth Systems

The Centre for Doctoral Training in Earth Observation: Data for Earth Systems will train PhD students with a unique skill set required to adequately and effectively evaluate, manipulate, combine and interpret earth observation data, especially in the use of climate data for earth systems, which is critical for scientific discovery, opening new markets for satellite enabled services, supporting the development and export of new earth observation technologies, and developing the UK’s position as a global hub for trusted earth observation products. Earth Observation is an essential component of NERC’s funding, cutting across the full breadth of NERC science. The CDT is funded by NERC with additional support from the UK Space Agency.

Centre for Doctoral Training in Managing Chemical Risks in the Environment

The Centre for Doctoral Training in Managing Chemical Risks in the Environment will produce a generation of innovator ecotoxicology scientists skilled in experimental, modelling and statistical techniques, to strengthen capacity across a wide range of stakeholders relevant to chemical risk management.

Commissioning of Centres for doctoral training

The focus of each NERC CDT call is informed by the CDT commissioning framework. This framework is in place to ensure that decision-making concerning NERC CDT focus areas continues to be robust and evidence-based, informed by a broad range of evidence and clearly linked with the objectives of the CDT programme.

It also makes the process by which evidence submissions are considered for CDT investment more transparent. Further information concerning the CDT commissioning framework is available on the commissioning framework page.

Last updated: 15 November 2021

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