South West Doctoral Training Centre (ESRC)

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Run by Faculty of Social Sciences and Law
Awards available PhD , MRes
Programme length Three to four years full-time
Seven years part-time
Part-time study available Yes
Daytime attendance may be required for part-time study.
Open to international students No
Funding is normally restricted to UK residents. EU students may be eligible for fees only funding. International Students may apply for full funding for the Economics and Advanced Quantitative Methods pathways only. Please see the ESRC eligibility guidance for further details.
Number of places 41 funded places across pathways and institutions
Start date September 2016

Programme overview

Established in 2011, the South West Doctoral Training Centre (SWDTC) is a collaboration between the Universities of Bristol, Bath and Exeter.

Accredited by the The Economic and Social Sciences Research Council (ESRC), the centre is a strategic partnership, drawing together the expertise of more than 770 social sciences academics and researchers. 

As recognised research leaders, all three institutions are committed to providing excellent training, development and teaching for the postgraduate community across disciplinary and interdisciplinary research fields.

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

The centre is made up of a number of disciplinary and interdisciplinary pathways. For details of the pathways available at Bristol, please see the Apply to the SWDTC pages. The pathway you are interested in will determine which programme you will need to apply to through our online application system. Each programme has its own entry in the programme finder where you will find further details of research activities and potential supervisors.

The centre and has been allocated 41 ESRC studentships annually.

Fees for 2016/17

Full time fees


Part time fees


Additional fees

Bench fee

Fees quoted are provisional, per annum and subject to annual increase.

Funding for 2016/17

Students wishing to apply for ESRC funding can apply 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 SWDTC admissions statement for information.

For studentship holders, the standard maintenance award is, for October 2015, £14,140 per annum. The ESRC will also cover fees to the value of £4,100 per annum. Students registered on the AQM and Economics pathway will receive enhancements

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Programme structure

As well as comprehensive research training, all students have the opportunity to take part in a work placement during their time of study with us. Placements provide the opportunity for students to further develop their research and transferrable skills in a non-academic environment. For more information on placements, please visit the Centre's collaboration pages.

Please see individual programme entries for details of their programme structures.

Entry requirements

Scholarships are available as either a 1+3 award (a 1 year MSc plus 3 years funding for a PhD) or for those able to provide evidence of having undertaking postgraduate research methods training at an ESRC recognised institution or equivalent, +3 funding (3 years funding for a PhD only). Please see individual programme entries for details of entry requirements. 

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Application method Online application form
English language requirements
See individual programme entries for details of language requirement

Further information about English language requirements
Admissions statement Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Research groups

The SWDTC in itself is representative of the three institutions' commitment to collaborative working models, and the centre will be developing its own collaborative working practice with external partners as a core part of our strategy.

Collaboration from the research perspective can mean working with a wide variety of organisations and individuals from private, public and civic sectors. Forms of collaboration may vary from an entirely co-organised and co-produced project, to a workshop, design of specific data-gathering exercise, participation in a policy review, conference or internship.

Through collaboration we are committed to building not just opportunities for knowledge transfer and sharing of best practice, but developing critical mass in key research areas.

Please see individual programme entries for details of school and departmental research groups.


Please see individual programme entries for careers information

Staff profiles

For information about potential PhD supervisors in Bristol, please see individual programme (pathway) entries.

How to apply
Application deadline:

The closing date for studentship applications for 2016/17 is yet to be confirmed but is usually around mid-February. 

I chose Bristol because of its outstanding academic reputation. It's reassuring to be taught by people who truly love their subject - their passion becomes contagious.


REF 2014 results

Please see full REF 2014 results for the University of Bristol.

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

Get in touch

See individual programme entries for contact details


Important disclaimer information about our programmes.

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