Studentships and scholarships

ESRC South West Doctoral Training Centre Partnership

The South West Doctoral Training Partnership is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), with the first cohort starting in October 2017. Our Partnership builds upon the success of the South West Doctoral Training Centre (SWDTC) which was established in 2011 by the Universities of Bath, Bristol and Exeter. We have extended our strategic partnership to include the University of Plymouth and the University of the West of England (UWE), bringing together social science academic leaders across our 17 disciplinary and interdisciplinary pathways.  The Partnership benefits from the leadership and research knowledge available from all five institutions and also from the SWDTC cohort of students, as we have over 200 ESRC funded researchers.

As well as developing tailored training programmes for our students and staff, the Partnership also supports a wide variety of collaborative activities, including events and student placements, in public, private and civic society organisations.

The SWDTP has been accredited by the Economic and Social Sciences Research Council (ESRC) and has been allocated 45 ESRC studentships annually.

Value of ESRC SWDTP studentships

Home tuition fees plus living expenses of the RCUK minimum per annum for UK students. EU students will receive a fees only award unless they can prove they meet the ESRC's eligibility guidelines and have been settled and resident in the UK for at least 3 years.


Students wishing to apply for ESRC funding can be awarded funding for either a Msc followed by PhD programme (1+3 award) or PhD only (+3 award). Students wishing to undertake PhD study only (+3 awards) must meet the ESRC criteria in terms of previous Masters level study and should read the SWDTP admissions statement and FAQs for information.

You must apply to the PhD programme to be considered for 1+3 as well as +3 awards so that you can upload your PhD proposal to the application. 

In addition to the 3,000 word research proposal required by the School all applicants wishing to be considered for SWDTP funding must also complete the SWDTP Student Statement (Office document, 60kB) and upload this to your application by the funding deadline.  The SWDTP Student Statement is only required for funding consideration so can be completed and uploaded separately. The school does not need to consider this statement to make an offer of a place on the PhD programme.

Students applying for ESRC funded scholarships are encouraged to look at ways of incorporating collaboration with external partners into their research proposal. Collaboration does not always have to be a financial arrangement and could take the form of a placement, voluntary work, data sharing or other payment in kind opportunities.  All prospective ESRC +3 and 1+3 applicants are encouraged to research SPAIS staff interests and send an informal research enquiry to the academic staff members they are interested in working with.  Making a research enquiry helps define your interests, contributes to making your application successful, and also serves to ensure the identification of the best supervisor for your needs.  There is no guarantee at this stage that the academic you liaise with initially about your research will be able to supervise your project but they may be able to identify appropriate colleagues within SPAIS. 

Applicants may apply to one or more pathways but please note the eligibility criteria for overseas and EU students on the SWDTP website

University of Bristol PhD Scholarships

The Faculty of Social Sciences and Law is pleased to be able to offer a number of fully-funded and/or half-funded PhD scholarships to UK, EU and international applicants to the Sociology and the Politics PhD programmes showing exceptional research potential. Scholarships are renewable for up to 3 years (where offered full-time) subject to satisfactory progress.


New Home UK/EU and international postgraduate students studying full time for an PhD.

Applicants are expected to hold a 1st Class Honours Bachelor’s degree and a Master's degree (UK or UK equivalent) in a relevant discipline. For those whose first language is not English, a minimum language proficiency score of IELTS 7.0 (Profile B) is required.


Tuition fee and a maintenance stipend of the RCUK minimum per annum (full or half funded).

Closing dates

Applications for 2020/21 PhD programmes will open in October 2019. Deadlines for Scholarship applications for September 2020 entry are yet to be announced.

The closing date for SWDTP studentship applications was 12pm (GMT) 29th January 2019*. 

The University of Bristol PhD Scholarship deadline was 12pm (GMT) 29th January 2019

*We strongly recommend that we receive complete applications from interested candidates for SWDTP funding by early January at the latest. It usually takes 3-6 weeks to circulate applications to reviewers for us to make a PhD offer and only offer holders can be considered by the selection committee in early February.

Please note there is no separate application form for these scholarships. In the "Funding" section of the online application form you must tick the boxes entitled "UK Research Council" or "University of Bristol". If relevant please also enter the specific DTC pathway that you wish to be considered for in the free text box which is below the list of funding options. Please see the SWDTP pages for more details of the disciplinary and interdisciplinary pathways that are on offer.


Full-time students are required to pay the full-time student fee at the prevailing rate for a period of three consecutive years. Part-time students are required to pay the part-time student fee at the prevailing rate for a period of six consecutive years. See the University fees and funding pages for further details.

Funding graduate research

Please note that in order to be considered for any funding, applicants will first need to be in receipt of an offer.

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