Applications for EPSRC PhD funding are made to specific universities, or their CDTs and not to the EPSRC itself.
The majority of EPSRC PhD funding is allocated to Centres for Doctoral Training who will advertise set numbers of studentship opportunities. Unlike other STEM funding offered by UKRI, EPSRC CDT studentships aren’t necessarily attached to pre-defined projects. The broad area for your research will be determined by the remit of the CDT, but you will identify your specific project during the programme.
Other EPSRC opportunities are more traditional: DTPs may invite students to propose projects within their broad remit; iCASE studentships will usually be advertised as very specific projects.
To apply for an EPSRC scholarship, you first need to find an advertised opportunity. Once you have found one you would like to apply for, you should read the description and prepare the necessary application materials.
Typically, in your application, you will include a personal statement (providing information on your experience and research interests), a covering letter (demonstrating your interest in the project) and a CV with appropriate referees.
If your application is successful, you will then be invited for a PhD interview which gives you the opportunity to show your willingness to undertake a PhD and discuss the project in more detail.
Studentship opportunities are advertised at different times of the year depending on the CDT. Some start to advertise as early as October, whereas some don’t open until March for the following September.
Here are the application deadlines for the EPSRC CDTs listed above, for projects starting in the 2022-23 academic year:
- lifETIME – 31 January 2022
- Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing – 9 January / 3 April 2022
- SOFI2 – 28 November 2022
- CoSEM – 31 January 2022
- iCAT – End of November 2022
- Nuclear Energy Futures – August 2022 (this may come forward if vacancies are filled)
You can use these to get a good idea as to the anticipated deadlines for other CDTs, and for the CDT deadlines for 2023. Remember that you can use FindAPhD to browse current PhD studentships at EPSRC CDTs.
EPSRC funding application tips
EPSRC studentships are awarded on a competitive basis, so here are some tips to help with your application:
- Check the programme you are applying to – Each CDT carries out research to a specific remit set by the EPSRC, so it is a good idea to make sure that you are applying to a CDT you have an interest in.
- Contact supervisors before applying – It is always a good idea to contact potential supervisors to discuss the suitability of your research interests. For some studentships, supervisors may need to personally approve / decline your application and being in contact with them beforehand may help with this.
- Check application requirements – The application process for EPSRC PhD funding varies more than for other Research Councils. Some applications require a research proposal for your intended project, whereas others will only be assessing your general suitability for a research programme. There may also be policies on what references you can include in your application. The safest bet is always to double check the requirements for the specific studentship you are applying to.
- Check your qualifications – Studentships at different universities require different academic requirements – some may need a Masters regardless of your undergraduate degree grade. Others require you to have relevant experience (i.e. from a placement) in place of this.
Most listed studentships provide a detailed timeline indicating when you should expect to hear back about your application, and when the interviews are planned to take place.