Apply for a research opportunity

How to apply

To apply for a CENTA studentship you need to apply directly to the university hosting your chosen project via their online application form, this will be linked from each project. When asked how you intend to fund your postgraduate studies please state that you wish to apply for a NERC CENTA studentship.

In addition to completing an online application form, you will also need to complete and submit the CENTA studentship application form as part of your chosen institution's online application procedure.

Candidate initiated PhD projects

We welcome and encourage candidate initiated PhD projects. If you wish to co-design a project with a CENTA supervisor, then you must contact them well in advance of the application deadline to develop the project together (please contact if you require help in finding a potential supervisor).
Students who wish to co-design a project must submit their CV to the CENTA Manager by 22 December (this must be done with the approval of the supervisor of the co-designed project).
Please note student-initiated projects must pass the same criteria for student excellence, fit with NERC remit and feasibility as regular CENTA projects.

Financial support

CENTA studentships are for 3.5 years and are funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). In addition to the full payment of their tuition fees, successful candidates will receive the following financial support.

  • Annual stipend, set at £14,553 for 2017/18
  • Research training support  grant (RTSG) of £8,000

Universal studentship acceptance deadline for NERC DTP and CDT studentships

All NERC Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) have agreed to adhere to an annual universal acceptance deadline for PhD studentship offers. The universal acceptance date for 2018 entry is 12pm, 14 March 2018. Any offer made by a NERC DTP or CDT should include details of the universal acceptance deadline for that year.

The purpose of the annual universal acceptance deadline is to ensure that PhD applicants who have applied for multiple studentship opportunities, and may therefore receive multiple offers, do not have to make a decision on the studentship they wish to accept before knowing the outcome of all of their applications.

Applicants who receive a PhD studentship offer from a NERC DTP or CDT for the forthcoming academic year are therefore not required to accept an offer formally before this date unless they wish to do so.


We welcome applications from UK and EU students, students from outside of the EU are not eligible. Full tuition fees and an annual stipend in line with UK Research Councils are available for UK and EU applicants who qualify for NERC awards. 

Further guidance about eligibility is available at RCUK Terms & Conditions

Further information

For informal enquiries about the research projects please contact the relevant supervisors or for general queries please contact the CENTA Manager, Sara Kinahan at or 0121 414 6171