Finding the right PhD studentships can take a lot of internet searching. Here are some recommendations for where you can find PhDs and some specific external organisations that offer studentships and Doctoral Training Partnerships. Refer to my PhD application tips and writing a research proposal once you have found suitable PhD programmes that suit you.
Find a PhD
Find a Phd is one of the largest databases that advertise PhD projects and programmes around the world. I found this website really helpful as you can filter down your search to exactly what you looking for based on subject area, location, institution and funded/self-funded. It really is a comprehensive database of loads of PhD’s on offer and there will be link to how you can apply to each PhD.
Medical Research Council
MRC provides many different types of opportunities for studentships and is one of the lead research councils to that offer funding for PhDs. MRC provide Doctoral Training Partnerships which fund doctoral training in a range of different areas in medicine and health. DTPs also allow for professional development to enhance key skills. Another opportunity provided by MRC are MRC industrial Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering (iCASE) studentships which are tailored more towards industrial collaborations in science and engineering. Check the website for further information on which institutions are eligible and application processes. 2020 applications have been postponed for both of these programmes, therefore, the next programme start is for September/October 2021 with application deadlines in January 2021.
Economic and Social Research Council
ESRC are the UK’s largest funding organisation for research and postgraduate training in the economic and social sciences. They have 14 Doctoral Training Partnerships located across the UK and comprise of 73 institutions. My PhD is funded by one of the DTPs, the NINE DTP, which consists of 7 universities in Northern Ireland and North East, Newcastle University being one of them. They offer a stipend each year depending on the UKRI rate, and they cover tuition fees. They also provide extra funding for research costs. These DTP’s have certain pathways which your PhD research must fit into. Pathways range from Health, Wellbeing & Society to politics to linguistics to geography and many more so you are likely to find a stream that fits your research project. You first have to pick which university you want to do your PhD in, this can be based on location, the pathways that are on offer (as not all universities offer all pathways) and supervisors. You then apply using the ESRC DTP application form which your university must send to the ESRC panel. You will also have to apply to a PhD programme at your university as a formal procedure for you to be an applicant at your university. These DTPs allow you to come up with your own research project and write out a research proposal which is great if you have an idea in mind rather than being stuck doing a project that was developed by someone else like many PhDs.
ESRC DTPs are great because it provides full doctoral training with additional workshops, events and conferences that are organised for the DTP cohort. This is much more beneficial than just being a PhD student at your university as there are more extracurricular and professional development when you are part of a DTP. NINE DTP have autumn annual conferences which for my first year was held at Belfast University so it meant I could go to Belfast for 3 days fully paid for which was a great experience. We also have summer schools and many such events throughout the year so I definitely recommend having a look at ESRC DTPs. It is a very competitive award so looks great on your CV! The next deadline will be January 2021 for September 2021 start. Keep an eye out for the application opening date which will be around November 2020.
Wellcome Trust support researchers in funding for a variety of different PhD programmes ranging from biomedical science to population health to humanities and social sciences. They provide stipends, tuition fees covered and research funding to carry out any fieldwork etc and conference attendance. Check out their range of different schemes at different institutions in the UK or abroad opportunities available as well. Deadlines vary for each, so check beforehand and make a note of the deadlines.
The Francis Crick Institute
This biomedical research institute provides their own 4 year PhD programme taking place at one of their partner universities: UCL, Imperial or Kings. You will develop a research proposal during your first year with supervisors whilst also receiving a variety of training. There are opportunities for career development with work placements during the 2nd year and workshops throughout the PhD. If you are looking for a biomedical PhD programme with lots of support and professional development, whilst getting a stipend and tuition fees covered check Francis Crick out. They also run PhD studentships in partnership with Cancer research UK.
Check University Websites
Aside from all looking at all the organisations and PhD advertising platforms, I always recommend you check out individual university websites. They might be offering PhD studentships that aren’t advertised anywhere else.