About the London NERC DTP

The London NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) DTP (Doctoral Training Partnership) is a partnership of eight prestigious research organisations across London, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council. Our aim is to attain new standards of excellence in environmental science research training, and deliver a transformative inter-disciplinary experience for PhD students in the heart of London. We currently fund over 140 PhD students in the natural sciences.

Our students are trained at World-leading research centres, which cover a the breadth of environmental science research, from those driven by contemporary environmental challenges to those exploring complex questions about the evolution of planet Earth. Our PhD programme is focussed on eight key research themesBiodiversity, Ecology & Conservation, Earth, Atmosphere & Ocean Processes, Environmental Hazards & Pollution, Environmental Physics & Mathematical Modelling, Evolution & Adaptation, Past Life & Environments, Solid Earth Dynamics and Pan-disciplinary studies.

The London NERC DTP partners are University College LondonBirkbeck University of LondonKing’s College LondonQueen Mary University of LondonRoyal Holloway University of LondonBrunel University London, the Institute of Zoology, the Natural History Museum. The DTP is run by the DTP Team, and the Management Board, and overseen by the PhD Committee and Governing Council. We also have ongoing collaborations with a number of non-academic Associate Partners.

Research Themes

The Partners are engaged in an enormous range of environmental research spanning NERC’s science remit. We have identified 8 broadly-defined Research Themes which reflect the Partnership’s areas of research excellence and in which we can deliver world-class research training.

Our training programme is set within a multidisciplinary environment. All Partners are dedicated to developing a multi-, cross- and pan-disciplinary London centre of environmental science doctoral training.

We recognise the need to develop student skills in new subjects and linking research areas between traditional subjects. Each Partner has submitted a selection of PhD projects falling within each research theme.

Click here to view a list of all projects available.

Programme Overview

The London NERC DTP shares NERC’s ambition to provide world-class PhD training in environmental research across a broad range of fields. We have designed a multidisciplinary 4-year training programme to enthuse and engage and ensure that our students develop the core science skills needed to make optimal progress. Through training, strong cohort dynamics and student choice, our PhD programme aims to enhance the doctoral experience and prepare students to become future leaders in their fields.

During the first six months of the programme we provide core training covering the full spectrum of environmental science. Once they begin their research in earnest, our students receive access to a variety of bespoke training courses that will help them conduct their PhD research and become capable, well-rounded environmental scientists.

Student choice is a key part of the London NERC DTP ethos, and during their core training our students are given time and support to develop PhD projects and consider potential supervisors.

Our programme structure includes new teaching elements contributed by all Partners and spanning all eight research themes. It will equip each student to conduct empirical and/or theoretical research, underpinned by rigorous numerical and statistical skills. We also include a range of transferable skills, from time management to academic writing, ethics and the peer review process, to equip our students with the skills necessary to succeed both within, and outside, academia.

Programme Structure

Year 1Autumn Term: Core multi-disciplinary skills training

Year 1Spring Term: Core training & PhD project development, Field Class

Year 1Summer Term: Students relocate to primary institution and start research

Year 2 – Bespoke training courses to develop specific skills, Students upgrade to full PhD status

Year 3 – Students continue research at their primary institution

Year 4 – Thesis writing and submission, Viva


  • Academic requirements:
    • Applicants must hold, or be expected to achieve, a upper second-class undergraduate honours degree or equivalent (for example BA, BSc, MSci) or a Masters degree in a relevant subject. Please contact the DTP office if you require further guidance.
    • The London NERC DTP aims to recruit PhD students from a diverse range of backgrounds. Our selection process looks at both academic and professional experience, and we do not consider a Masters degree a requirement for application to a London NERC DTP studentship.
  • Funding eligibility: 
    • Applicants that qualify for Home fee status and eligible for stipend and fees.
    • Applicants that qualify for Overseas fee status are now, under new UKRI-NERC rules, eligible for stipend and fees at the home rate. We are currently looking for waivers from our university partners for the difference between home and overseas tuition fees. Once we have confirmation from all university partners, this page will be updated. If you are an overseas student interested in the applying for the London NERC DTP, we would suggest that you go ahead and do so. 
    • If you are unsure what fee status you qualify for, please contact the DTP office. 
  • English language requirements:
    • If English is not your first language and you are not a national of a country deemed by either the UK Home Office or UCL to be “majority English speaking”, you must be able to provide recent evidence that your spoken and written command of the English language is adequate for the programmes for which you have applied. Please be aware that the English language level for this programme is: Good The required evidence may be one of the following:
      • completed a minimum of twelve months academic education leading to an awarded qualification, in a country that UCL considers to be ‘majority English speaking’, no more than two years prior to the proposed date of enrolment (or the summer two years prior to enrolment if starting in September). Non-UCL English language courses and study preparation courses such as pre-Masters are not acceptable;
      • completed a minimum of eighteen months of work experience in a country that UCL considers to be ‘majority English speaking’, no more than two years prior to the proposed date of enrolment;
      • a recently obtained acceptable English language qualification or test result. The qualification or test result must have been awarded no more than two years prior to the proposed date of enrolment. Please see a list of all the English language qualifications and tests that are recognised by UCL here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/learning-and-living-ucl/international-students/english-language-requirements.

Application Details

Applications to the London NERC DTP programme are not for a specific project, but for a research theme. The projects listed on the site under exemplar projects are to provide you with details on what is potentially on offer if you were to be accepted to the DTP, however there is also the option of developing your own projects with DTP academics. It is expected that students will meet with potential supervisors to discuss and develop their project ideas during the first six months of their PhD training.

All students will undertake an intensive programme of interdisciplinary core research and professional development training the autumn and spring terms. At the end of term 1, all students will submit a choice of two equally attractive project titles of which they will be allocated one. At the end of term 2, students will present their PhD project plans to the rest of their cohort before joining their primary research institution to begin their project.

Our list of exemplar projects can be viewed here. If there aren’t any projects listed under your chosen theme do not be discouraged from applying, applicants are encouraged to develop their own projects over the course of the first term and are not limited to the projects on the exemplar list. 

DTP partner institutions and departments

Birkbeck, University of London: Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, Department of Geography.
Brunel University London: Centre for Pollution Research and Policy
Institute of Zoology: All departments/units.
King’s College London: Department of Geography, Department of Analytical, Environmental & Forensic Sciences, Department of Population Health Sciences.
Natural History Museum: Earth Sciences Department, Life Sciences Department, Core Research Facilities.
Queen Mary University of London: School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences, School of Geography.
Royal Holloway, University of London: Department of Biological Sciences, Department of Geography.
University College London: Anthropology, Institute of Archaeology, Earth Sciences, Genetics, Evolution & Environment, Geography, Mathematics, Physics & Astronomy, Space and Climate Physics, Statistical Science, Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction. 

Documentation Required

It is your responsibility to ensure that all documents (including references) are submitted on time. Late and/or incomplete applications may not be assessed.

Along with the application form, all applicants need to submit supporting documents by the established deadline. You should start the process of completing your application and making contact with your referees as early as possible. Be aware that you may need to give your institution(s) and referees plenty of notice of the deadline.

Your application cannot receive consideration until you provide all supporting documents:

Curriculum vitae
 (2 page maximum)
The London NERC DTP is dedicated to unbiased assessment of applications; please ensure your CV does not contain your name, gender, age, sexuality, disability, religion, marital status, date of birth, or any photos. If you upload a CV containing personal details of this nature they will be removed from your application.

Personal statement (1200 words maximum)
Please explain why you are attracted, and a good fit, to the London NERC DTP programme and the opportunities at its constituent partners. Discuss why you are a strong candidate, drawing upon evidence from your background, skills and experience. Please also provide information on your research interests, your choice of research theme and your aptitude for interdisciplinary study.

If you have identified any exemplar PhD projects/DTP partner academic’s work of interest to you, you may wish to mention these in your personal statement.

Your personal statement will be submitted in the application form. We would suggest typing up and saving your personal statement, and any other longer answers to questions in a word document. This will mitigate for losing any material should there be any possible technical issues upon submission. 

Academic transcript/s
If your degree has been awarded you will be required to provide a copy of your official final transcript that confirms your date of award/conferral. If this is not present on your transcript you should also upload a copy of your degree certificate or official proof of award.

If your degree is in progress, we will require a copy of your current transcript.

English Language Certification
Please see the English language requirements here. The DTP requires the ‘Good’ level of English. Please also read our Eligibility section for more information.

Before we can give full consideration to your application, we will need to receive two academic references. If you have been out of education for a long time we will accept non-academic references. We prefer to receive references from valid institutional/organisational email addresses, however we do understand that in some cases this may not be possible.

A link to the referee form will automatically be sent to your selected referees when you submit your application, however we encourage applicants to share the link to this form with their referees in advance to give them time to complete the form, especially if you are considering submitting close to the application deadline. Please direct referees to this page to complete your reference: https://london-nerc-dtp.org/apply-to-the-london-nerc-dtp/referee-form/. References may be completed in advance of submitting your application.