Great Western Four+ Doctoral Training Partnership (NERC)

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Run by Faculty of Science Faculty of Life Sciences
Awards available PhD
Programme length Three-and-a-half years full-time (minimum period of study), four years full-time (maximum period of study)
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Start date September 2019

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 Natural History Museum and Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

The partnerships provide a multidisciplinary training environment for postgraduate students in NERC sciences. Due to the nature of the funding, this programme is open to UK/EU students only.

This NERC-funded doctoral training partnership programme offers studentships for 42 months within three research themes: Dynamic Earth, Living World and Changing Planet. You will be offered training as part of your PhD studies that will equip you with a range of skills for future employment in many different working environments. You will be expected to attend training during your PhD and are encouraged to take up work placements. Details of training can be found at

PhD projects are available in earth and environmental science topics within the Schools of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Geographical Sciences and Physics. New projects are advertised annually from October on each school's web site: 

Fees for 2019/20

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2019/20 are as follows:

UK/EU: full-time
UK/EU: part-time
Channel Islands/Isle of Man: full-time

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to a five per cent increase in fees each year. Find out more about tuition fees.

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 2019/20

A student of any nationality would be able to receive a full award if they fulfil UK (United Kingdom and islands) current residency requirements, ie they have:

  • Settled status in the UK, meaning they have no restrictions on how long they can stay


  • Been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for three years prior to the start of their studentship. This means they must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences)


  • Not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. (This does not apply to UK or EU nationals.)

Students from EU countries, other than the UK, that are not resident in the UK may be eligible for studentships available through competition. To be eligible for these, a student must be ordinarily resident in a member state of the EU, in the same way as UK students must be ordinarily resident in the UK.

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 geography. Applicants with additional relevant experience and/or a master's degree are encouraged to apply.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you need to meet this profile level:
Profile E
Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Admissions statement

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Admissions statement

Research groups

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

  • Dynamic 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 project entries relevant to the school to which you wish to apply.

Application deadline:

Monday 7 January 2019, 4pm GMT

To apply for this programme, you must select 'Faculty of Science' and then 'NERC Great Western Four plus Doctoral Training Partnership (PhD)' within the online application form. You should refer to the project and supervisor in your application, indicate in the funding section that you will be funded by the GW4+ DTP, and choose the correct school of study. Please note that although a student may be successful in being nominated by a supervisor for a particular project, they are not guaranteed a studentship until they have been successful at an interview day or GW4+ DTP competition.

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; in particular, the scores for subject areas 7, 8, 9, 10 and 17a.

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.

Open days and visits

Find out more about opportunities to visit Bristol.

Register to attend our postgraduate open day, 20 November 2019.

Get in touch

Frances Robertson Bristol NERC GW4+ DTP Administrator Phone: +44 (0) 117 331 5426 Email:

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


Important disclaimer information about our programmes.

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