Applications are not made directly to the MRC but to the research organisations that will host your PhD. These can be found on specific DTP websites, on the university websites or here on FindAPhD.
Most MRC projects have a pre-defined project aim (such as an iCASE project). Applying for these PhD opportunities is a lot like applying for a job: you must demonstrate that you meet the requirements outlined in the project advertisement and will be a good fit for the position.
However, some MRC DTPs offer more flexible scholarships where you will spend the first year doing lab rotations after which you will submit a research proposal. There are a set number of scholarships and students are accepted on a competitive basis.
It is unlikely that a university (or other institution) will provide MRC funding to a student who has designed and proposed their project completely independently.
To apply for an MRC scholarship, you first need to find an advertised opportunity at a DTP or other institute with funding. Once you have found one you would like to apply for, you should read the description and prepare the necessary application materials.
You will usually need to include a personal statement (providing information on your academic background, experience and research interests), covering letter (demonstrating your suitability and your interest in the project) and CV with appropriate referees.
If your application is successful, you will then be invited for a PhD interview and given the opportunity to discuss the PhD with you in more detail.
DTPs usually start advertising MRC studentships around September / October for the following autumn semester.
Here are the application deadlines for PhD studentships at MRC DTPs for projects beginning in the 2022-23 academic year:
- Cambridge – 2 December 2021
- DiMeN – 14 January 2022
- Dundee – tbc
- GW4 – 26 November 2021
- Imperial College London – 29 November 2021
- IMPACT – tbc
- Institute of Cancer Research – 14 December 2021
- King's College London – 18 November 2021
- LSTM – tbc
- London Intercollegiate – 26 January 2022
- Manchester – 12 November 2021
- MMB (East Anglia) – 17 January 2022
- Oxford – 3 December 2021
- Precision Medicine – 20 January 2022
- Translational Immunology, Inflammation and Cancer – tbc
- Trials Methodology Research Partnership (TMRP) – tbc
- UCL-Birkbeck – 14 / 31 January 2022, depending on project
- Warwick– 11 November 2022
The deadline for ITTP PhDs is 3 December 2021.
These are the deadlines for PhDs starting in October 2022 You can use them to get an idea of the deadlines for 2023 but they may change. You can sign up for our free PhD newsletter to stay up to date on new project advertisements and we’ll email you each week with updates.
MRC funding application tips
Applications for MRC funding are competitive. Here are some tips:
- Find out about potential supervisors – If you are applying to a DTP with rotations then you most likely will need to select some potential supervisors. It’s worth finding out what their research interests are so you apply to the ones that you also find interesting.
- Time to prepare – Application deadlines for the MRC are earlier than most other research councils so it’s important to make sure you have enough time to research the programmes and research areas.
- Make sure your CV is up to date – Having an up to date CV is critical for your PhD application. Also make sure its tailored towards a PhD with the MRC showing relevant research interests and extra-curricular activities.
- Choose good referees – References can be essential to your application. You should think carefully about who your referees will be and notify them that you intend on adding them to application. That way, your reference doesn’t get forgotten about.
Most DTPs will provide an expected timeline on when you should hear back about your application, when interviews are expected to take place and when successful candidates will be notified.