Centre for Doctoral Training 2017 call

Please note: the Announcement of Opportunity document was updated on 27 February 2017 to emphasise that funding is available to support a single CDT.

This competition is now closed.

NERC invites proposals for a new Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) specialising in one of the two following priority areas:

  • Freshwater bioscience and sustainability.
  • Environmental science underpinning the sustainable future of the energy sector.

Proposals must address training within a single priority area; proposals addressing more than one area will not be accepted.

The two priority areas are outlined below, with the full details set out in the Announcement of Opportunity.

Funding for eight studentships will be awarded per annum, and the CDT award will provide funding for three years of new student intake (ie 24 studentships in total) starting in the 2018-19 academic year.

Funding for only one CDT in a single area is available through this call, meaning there are more priority areas than there is available funding for – this is to ensure that only the very best doctoral training is funded.

An expectation of the CDT is that NERC funding will be used to leverage additional investment (either cash or in-kind support) from multiple stakeholders.

CDT priority area: Freshwater bioscience and sustainability

Proposals are sought to host a new CDT providing training in freshwater bioscience and sustainability.

Freshwater systems provide essential ecosystem services and are crucial to supporting the world's growing population. However, they are rapidly losing biodiversity and function, putting the essential services they provide under threat. That threat arises because such systems are under increasing pressure from climate change and human activities such as agricultural intensification, industrialisation and urbanisation (among others), all of which have implications for water quality and predictability of water supply. There is increasing recognition that this connectivity of freshwater ecosystems to the wider environment must be taken into account if we are to manage them sustainably and protect and restore the ecosystem services they provide.

There is widespread acknowledgement of a shortage of postgraduates with skills in the freshwater biosciences and a growing need for interdisciplinary researchers with knowledge of the interactions between aquatic, terrestrial and atmospheric components of freshwater science in order to understand better the ability of freshwater ecosystems to withstand environmental change and their response to multiple and interacting stressors at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.

A NERC CDT in freshwater bioscience and sustainability will complement training investments made by other research councils and train the next generation of UK environmental researchers equipped with the specialist, interdisciplinary and transferrable skills necessary to monitor, evaluate, and sustainably manage freshwater resources to meet the needs of the wide range of stakeholders relevant to freshwater sciences.

CDT priority area: Environmental science underpinning the sustainable future of the energy sector

Proposals are sought to host a new CDT providing training in environmental science underpinning the sustainable future of the energy sector.

Society faces a significant challenge over the coming decades to ensure a secure, safe and affordable energy mix while continuing to tackle climate change by reducing carbon emissions. As the global population continues to grow, there will be an increasing demand for energy, and businesses, policymakers and wider civil society will require independent evidence and expertise to inform responsible decision-making regarding the environmental impacts and sustainability of new and existing energy resources.

Along with the continued importance of ensuring hydrocarbon exploitation is carried out in a safe and responsible manner, there is now increasing focus in the UK on research into the efficiencies and environmental impacts of alternative energy resources and carbon capture and storage, and their implications for policy development and societal acceptance. To support this direction of travel, and to complement recent developments in extraction, monitoring and modelling technologies, it is important to ensure there is future research capacity and capability within the environmental sciences relevant to these developing areas of the energy sector.

A CDT in this area will deliver subject-specific and transferrable skills training to produce individuals equipped with priority skills in acquisition and handling of large data sets, risk and uncertainty description, research application and sustainability science, in addition to the broad understanding of the changing nature of the energy sector and the commercial, political, and social context in which it operates.

How to apply

There is a two-stage application process for this call.

Outline proposal applications must use the form provided below and be submitted by email to . The closing date for outline proposals is 16:00 on Wednesday 12 April 2017.

Outline proposal form (Word, 86KB)

Following an outline assessment panel, successful outline applications will be invited to submit a full proposal.

Full proposal applications using the form provided below must be submitted via the research councils' Joint electronic-Submission system (Je-S). The deadline for submission of full proposals is 16:00 on Wednesday 19 July 2017.

Full proposal form (Word, 56KB)

Please see the announcement of opportunity document below for full details of this call.

Announcement of opportunity (PDF, 315KB)

Background to NERC CDTs

NERC is developing a portfolio of CDTs to complement the Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) scheme. CDTs support strategically targeted, focused PhD studentships aimed at addressing specific research and skills gaps identified by NERC, our partners, and the wider community.

In October 2013, in recognition of the importance of focused training, NERC Council agreed additional funding for the NERC CDT portfolio to allow the establishment of at least one CDT per year.

The focus of each NERC CDT call is informed by the CDT commissioning framework. This framework is in place to ensure that decision-making concerning NERC CDT focus areas continues to be robust and evidence-based, informed by a broad range of evidence and clearly linked with the objectives of the CDT programme. It also makes the process by which evidence submissions are considered for CDT investment more transparent. Further information concerning the CDT commissioning framework is available on the commissioning framework page.

For further information about this initiative, please contact .