Great Western Four+ Doctoral Training Partnership (NERC)

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Awards available PhD
Programme length Three-and-a-half years full-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Open to international students No
Owing to the nature of the funding, this programme is open to UK/EU students only
Start date September 2017

Programme overview

The Great Western Four+ Doctoral Training Partnership (GW4+ DTP) comprises the University of Bristol, University of Bath, Cardiff University, University of Exeter, British Antarctic Survey, British Geological Survey, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, The Met Office, The Natural History Museum and Plymouth Marine Laboratory. This alliance creates a multi-disciplinary arena in NERC sciences and has a long-standing commitment to PhD training.

This NERC-funded DTP programme offers studentships for 42 months within three research themes: Solid Earth, Living World and Changing Planet. As part of their studentship, students will have the chance to participate in a number of training opportunities across the partnership. A main drive of the programme is to equip students with a range of generic and specialised skills, enabling them to become leaders in diverse areas of employment. Training activities include a residential, skills-based training course and workplace secondments with one of the 24 associate industry partners, representing the full range of earth and environmental science employers in the UK. Students will also attend an annual student congress and a range of other cohort activities across the institutions.

PhD projects are available in earth and environmental science topics within the following schools:

  • Biological Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Sciences
  • Geography

New projects are advertised annually on the GW4+ DTP website from October.

Fees for 2017/18

Full time fees


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

Alumni scholarship

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a ten per cent reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni scholarship.

Funding for 2017/18

All studentships are available for applicants who are ordinarily resident in the UK and are eligible for home fee rates. Nine studentships are available for students not ordinarily resident in the UK, but eligible for home fee rates.

Applicants who are classed as international for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding.

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

Entry requirements

An upper second-class degree or higher (or international equivalent) in a discipline related to the PhD project for which you are applying, such as geology, biological sciences, environmental sciences, chemistry or mathematics. Applicants with additional relevant experience and/or a Master's degree are encouraged to apply.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Application method Online application form and interview
English language requirements Profile E
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

Our approach to training is centred around our three research themes:

  • Solid Earth
    • Natural hazards
    • Solid earth and planetary geology
    • Resources
  • Living World
    • Ecology, conservation and biodiversity
    • Genomes and evolution
    • Biogeochemical cycles
  • Changing Planet
    • Atmospheres, oceans and ice
    • Climate change impacts and sustainability
    • Water

Staff profiles

For information about potential PhD supervisors in Bristol, please see individual programme entries relevant to the department you wish to apply to.

How to apply
Application deadline:

We are pleased to announce that we have been awarded an additional three studentships under the National Productivity Investment Fund. These are CASE studentships that are fully-funded for three-and-a-half years from Sept/Oct 2017.

Projects for these studentship will be advertised from Friday 26 May. The deadline for the industrial studentships only is 11:59pm on Sunday 25 June 2017.

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

Categories 7, 8, 9, 10 and 17A apply. 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

Frances Robertson Bristol NERC GW4+ DTP Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 33 15426 Email:

School of Earth Sciences
Wills Memorial Building
Queen's Road
Bristol BS8 1RJ


Important disclaimer information about our programmes.

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