CASE studentships

CASE studentships (formerly known as 'Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering') provide doctoral students with a first-rate, challenging research training experience within the context of a mutually beneficial research collaboration between academic and non-academic partner organisations.

The term 'industrial' is sometimes used as a short-hand for these awards, although they are relevant to all non-academic partners including those from industry, business, public and third/civil sectors.

Next funding opportunity

Industrial CASE Studentship competition (Call dates to be confirmed)


NERC studentships can be delivered in collaboration with non-academic partners from the private, public and third/civil sectors; where studentships are delivered in collaboration they are referred to as 'CASE studentships'. CASE studentships provide the PhD students with enhanced training opportunities by ensuring they spend between three and eighteen months in total with their CASE partner in a workplace outside the academic environment.

CASE studentships provide outstanding students with access to training, facilities and expertise not available in an academic setting alone. The CASE partners benefit from self-motivated, highly capable PhD students undertaking cutting-edge research relevant to their organisation's priorities and objectives. Both parties are also able to build and strengthen business and research collaborations. CASE studentship projects must provide sound training in research methods, and a stimulating intellectual challenge for the student. The work's impetus and initial requirement should originate from the CASE partner. Both the research organisation and the CASE partner nominate supervisors responsible for overseeing the student's training.

Impact is one of the CASE scheme's main criteria. Applications must demonstrate the potential for societal or economic impact through collaboration with the CASE partner and the provision of high quality training in research skills. Further information regarding impact can be found on the RCUK website - external link.

NERC provide funding for CASE studentships through two funding routes:

  • the annual Industrial CASE Studentship competition; and
  • permitting institutions awarded funding for NERC studentships to award a number of these studentships as CASE studentships.

Please note: The eligibility of an organisation to act as a CASE partner will depend on the route through which the studentship is funded; see the eligibility section below.

NERC require the CASE partner to supplement the studentship Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) by paying at least £1,000 per year to the lead Research Organisation for the duration of the studentship, and to meet the extra expenses incurred by students visiting and working in their establishments. They are also expected to contribute in cash or in kind towards necessary materials.

The student must spend between three and eighteen months in total with their CASE partner in a workplace outside the academic environment. These requirements apply to all CASE studentships regardless of their funding route.

Industrial CASE Studentship Competition

The Industrial CASE Studentship Competition is held to promote collaboration between the research community and the end-users of research, to the benefit of both. Two research councils (NERC and the Science & Technology Facilities Council) cooperate to deliver the annual industrial CASE studentship competition and have a common competition closing date each year, with funding awarded for 48 months. Applicants to this funding competition apply for individual studentships that they will either supervise or co-supervise; projects must be within the remit of the council to which they are submitted. NERC funds approximately 35 studentships by annual competition to a wide range of research organisations and non-academic partners. Previously funded awards are listed on the Previous awards webpage.

CASE studentships under other NERC studentship funding initiatives

In addition to the Industrial CASE competition, institutions awarded funding under other NERC studentship funding initiatives are able to award a number of their NERC studentships as CASE studentships. Studentship funding applications, for the following, are eligible to include a number of studentships as CASE studentships:

Additional criteria regarding the number of studentships that can, or are expected to, be awarded as CASE studentships will be included in the announcement of opportunity for each of these funding schemes.

Funding opportunities under the aforementioned funding routes are held throughout the year. Please visit the pages relevant to these funding routes for information concerning competition closing dates, how to apply for studentship funding and whether studentships can be awarded as CASE studentships. Information concerning how to apply will be contained within the specific call documentation.


Specific eligibility criteria can be found in the individual call guidance and Announcement of Opportunity documents for each funding opportunity. General eligibility rules with regard to CASE partners apply to different funding routes as follows:

  • Industrial CASE Studentship Competition
    In most instances, organisations eligible for research council funding - external link cannot act as a CASE partner. This includes NERC research centres (BAS, BGS, CEH, NCAS, NCEO, NOC). Any exceptions to this rule will be detailed in the 'Applicant guidance' document published with the most recent call for proposals.

  • CASE studentships under other NERC studentship funding initiatives
    For CASE studentships awarded through DTPs and CDTs, eligibility to act as a CASE partner is extended to any and all partners within the DTP, provided they are not a Higher Education Institute (HEI).

NERC review of Collaborative Studentships

Annually, NERC funds around 975 PhD students across the breadth of environmental science disciplines.

In 2014, to help inform the formulation of advice, the NERC Training Advisory Group (TAG) requested input via a questionnaire from a range of views on NERC studentship investments. A small review panel was set up consisting of three members: Kirsty Grainger (NERC head of skills & careers), Professor Terry Burke and Dr Nigel Cassidy (NERC TAG members).

The information gathered, and findings from the questionnaire returns, were collated and analysed by the project team, with input from the review panel. The analysis, along with comments from the NERC Science Board (SB) and Innovation Advisory Board (IAB), was presented at the July 2014 TAG meeting. The TAG then used the review to make recommendations on CASE to the NERC Executive, and it will be retained as a baseline for future evaluations of the NERC training portfolio.

A final report, summarising the findings and key conclusions of the review is now available below.

CASE studentship review report (PDF, 100KB)

For further information please contact: