South West Doctoral Training Partnership (ESRC)

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Run by Faculty of Social Sciences and Law
Awards available PhD , MRes, MSc
Programme length Three to four years full-time
Seven years part-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
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. Please see the ESRC eligibility guidance for further details:
Number of places Not fixed
Start date September 2017

Programme overview

Established in 2011, the South West Doctoral Training Centre is a collaboration between the Universities of Bristol, Bath and Exeter. From 2017, the SWDTC will be re-launched as the South West Doctoral Training Partnership (SWDTP). 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.

The SWDTP is a strategic partnership accredited by the Economic and Social Sciences Research Council. It draws together the expertise of more than 770 social sciences academics and 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 partnership 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 section of our website. 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 SWDTP offers funding for 1+3 or +3 awards in a range of disciplines and interdisciplinary themes.

Fees for 2017/18

Full-time fees


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

Funding for 2017/18

Students wishing to apply for ESRC funding can apply for either an 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 Master's-level study and should read the SWDTC admissions statement for information.

For studentship holders, the standard maintenance award is (for October 2016) £14,296 per annum. The ESRC will also cover fees to the value of £4,121 per annum. Students registered on the Advanced Quantitative Methods and Economics pathway may be eligible for enhanced stipends

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

Programme structure

As well as comprehensive research training, all students are encouraged to apply for a work placement during their time of study with us. Placements provide the opportunity for students to develop their research and transferable skills further in a non-academic environment. For more information on placements, please visit the partnership's collaboration pages. Please see individual programme entries for programme structures.

Entry requirements

Scholarships are available as either a 1+3 award, which is a one-year MSc/MRes plus three years funding for a PhD, or as a +3 award, which covers three years funding for a PhD only.

Applicants for a +3 award should have completed, or be due to complete, an ESRC-accredited or an equivalent research Master's with a significant element of research training. The research training should include significant social sciences research design, quantitative and qualitative research methods elements. The transcript will need to show that a minimum of a third of the taught stage of your programme entailed research methods elements. Applicants should have achieved an average grade of their Master's (at the point of application) of at least merit (60 per cent). Successful applicants must ultimately achieve both an overall average of at least 60 per cent across the taught units/modules and at least 60 per cent for the dissertation component as a condition of their funding. Applicants may be asked for further information to determine the relevance of the content covered. 

For students who have undertaken a Master's outside the UK we will look for appropriate equivalencies. 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 SWDTP 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, the design of a specific data-gathering exercise, participation in a policy review, a conference or an internship.

Through collaboration, we are committed to building opportunities for knowledge transfer and sharing of best practice, as well as developing critical mass in key research areas. Please see the prospectus entries for individual programmes 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.

Professor Sally Barnes, (Graduate Education Director and Director of the SWDTP)

How to apply
Application deadline:

The closing date for studentship applications for 2017/18 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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