Key information about applying for PhD Studentships
What is a Studentship?
PhD Studentship awards embed the 3Rs in the training of graduate scientists from a broad range of scientific backgrounds. As part of our commitment to support a scientific workforce with expertise and skills in non-animal technologies, applications centred on the development and application of full replacement approaches only, are within remit for the NC3Rs PhD Studentship scheme.
Full replacement refers to methods that avoid the use of animals for research and testing purposes. Often referred to collectively as non-animal technologies or NATs, non-animal technologies for bioscience research encompasses the use of complex 3D tissue models, organ-on-chips/ microphysiological systems, stem cell platforms, established cell lines, and in silico/ computational tools. Applications that integrate a range of disciplines or include an industrial partner are particularly encouraged.
This competition is run annually and awards of either three or four years duration, with values of £100k (non-FEC) and £135k (non-FEC) respectively.
Please note: Proposals focused on partial replacement, reduction or refinement approaches are not currently eligible for the NC3Rs PhD Studentship scheme.
Proposals centred on full and/or partial replacement, reduction, and/ or refinement approaches which seek to achieve 3Rs impact in the field of cardiovascular research are eligible for the BHF-NC3Rs Joint Studentship awards
BHF-NC3Rs Joint PhD Studentship awards
As part of our continued collaboration, up to two additional three-year joint awards with values of £100k (non-FEC), are available with the British Heart Foundation (BHF). Applications centred on reduction, replacement and/or refinement are within remit for the NC3Rs-BHF awards and should seek to achieve 3Rs impact in the field of cardiovascular research.
These awards are subject to joint NC3Rs-BHF terms and conditions. Additional information on BHF’s Intellectual Property and Commercial Exploitation terms can be found in section 5 of the BHF Standard Conditions of Grant.
Prospective PhD students
We do not fund students directly. Awards are advertised by the relevant research institutions and on our website. Studentship vacancies for awards made under the 2023 call will be advertised in due course.
|10 May 2023, 4pm||Extended deadline for outline submission to NC3Rs Office|
|5 June 2023||Application form available online|
|8 June 2023, 2pm||Applicant workshop - Preparing a Studentship application and using the new Funding Service|
|17 July 2023, 4pm||Full application deadline online|
|September 2023||Shortlisting stage*|
|October 2023||Studentship Assessment Panel meeting|
|End of October 2023||Applicants informed of outcome|
|Any time after issue of Award letter||Expected Studentship start date|
|TBC September 2024||Grant holder introductory meeting|
|1 October 2024||Latest date for commencing Studentships|
*A shortlisting stage may be held, depending upon the volume of applications received.
Please sign up to the NC3Rs newsletter for updates on funding schemes.
Who can apply?
Supervisors from any UK research establishment can apply, including:
Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
Independent Research Organisations (IROs).
Research Council (RC) Institutes.
The research organisation is responsible for finding students and the administration of each Studentship during the award.
Applicants should be UK-based researchers with a minimum of five years' postdoctoral experience.
A minimum of two Supervisors should be included on an application.
Applicants with limited supervisory experience are encouraged to name a more experienced colleague as a Co-Supervisor.
The lead applicant must have a contract of employment with the RO that will outlast the duration of the proposed application.
If an NC3Rs grant holder has more than 12 months remaining on their NC3Rs grant, at the time of application, they are not permitted to apply as a Primary Investigator for further NC3Rs funding (excluding CRACK IT and Skills and Knowledge Transfer grants – please contact the Office to discuss).
A proposal may integrate two disciplines or departments; however, applicants must ensure that the training content remains coherent and focused on delivering a specific set of research skills.
Industrial and overseas researchers
Industrial and overseas researchers cannot be Primary Investigators but can be included as collaborators or project partners.
The NC3Rs does not allow resubmission of previously unsuccessful proposals, unless explicitly invited by the Panel.
Proposals previously declined by the NC3Rs will not be considered by a Research Council or funder within 12 months (from the date of first submission to a Research Council) unless substantially revised. More information can be found in the NC3Rs Applicant and Grant Holder Handbook.
How to apply
Before submitting a full application applicants are required to complete an outline of the research proposal (see sidebar). A letter of support from the Head of Department and the CVs of the proposed supervisory team (to include supervisory experience and not to exceed three sides of A4) are also required. Applicants should also take note of the 'Considerations at informal outline stage'.
Please email the below to firstname.lastname@example.org before 4pm, 10 May 2023:
Completed outline form
Head of Department letter of support
CVs of the proposed supervisory team
Submitting a full application
For the 2023 call, full applications to the NC3Rs PhD Studentship Scheme will be made via the new Funding Service. This is part of the UKRI Simpler and Better Funding (SBF) programme’s work to develop a single, consistent user-centred funding service. Invited applicants will be sent a link to begin their application through the Funding Service.
Applicants are advised to read and refer to the NC3Rs Studentship Scheme Application Guide, which contains more detailed information on submitting both an outline and full application.
The following supporting documents are required for a full application:
Applications are assessed by the Studentship Assessment Panel. The following criteria are taken into consideration when making funding decisions:
Potential impact on the 3Rs
Quality of the proposed project
Expertise and track record of the Supervisor
The training / research environment
Strategic relevance to the highlight notice (where appropriate)
Further information on assessment criteria can be found here: NC3Rs Studentship Assessment Criteria
A shortlisting stage will take place prior to the Panel meeting. Applications will be reviewed by the Panel to identify those which are not competitive.
Studentship Assessment Panel
Funding Panel members are appointed in a personal capacity for three years, with the possibility of a further one or two years extension. We receive proposals from a wide range of disciplines. Additional members may be co-opted to each Panel, for one year, if additional expertise is required. A full list of current members and when their term ends is given below.
All Funding Panel members are required to declare any private, professional or commercial interests that give rise to, or could give rise to, a conflict of interest as detailed in the UKRI conflicts of interest policy.
Studentship Assessment Panel members
|Member name||Institution||Term ends|
|Dr Sally Robinson (Chair)||CRUK, Manchester Institute||2024|
|Dr Jeff Barclay||University of Liverpool||2023|
|Dr William Brackenbury||University of York||2024|
|Dr Paola Campagnolo||University of Surrey||2023|
|Dr Yvonne Dombrowski||Queen's University Belfast||2024|
|Professor Claire Gibson||University of Nottingham||2024|
|Dr Michelle Lawson||University of Sheffield||2024|
|Professor Melanie Madhani||University of Birmingham||2024|
|Dr Kendle Maslowski||Beatson Institute for Cancer Research||2023|
|Dr Richard Mort||Lancaster University||2024|
|Dr Daniel Neill||University of Dundee||2023|
|Dr Ryan West||University of Sheffield||2025|
|Mr Jim Saul||Labcorp||2025|
|Dr Julia Schueler||Charles River||2025|
|Dr Mona Shehata||AstraZeneca||2025|
|Professor Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova||University of Exeter||2023|
|Professor Neil Vargesson||University of Aberdeen||2024|
|Professor Hasan Yesilkaya||University of Leicester||2025|
Co-Opted Panel member for Studentships Assessment Panel 2023
|Member name||Institution||Term ends|
|Dr Simon Bate||Glaxo Smith Kline||2023|
|Dr Emma Blain||Cardiff University||2023|
|Professor Michael Bonsall||University of Oxford||2023|
|Professor Viacheslav Nikolaev||University of Hamburg||2023|
Information and guidance on making an application to our Studentship Scheme. (PDF, 384KB)