FAQs : WR ESRC DTC Studentship Awards 2014/15

(key information for Postgraduate Directors, Tutors and the Supervisors of PhD students starting October 2014)


General Information

Q1. How many ESRC studentships are there on offer in 2014/15?

The distribution of studentships for 2014/15 across the White Rose DTC is as follows:

  • Discipline awards to schools/departments = 31.5
    • 2 of which are Language-Based Area Studies (ESRC steer)
  • Advanced Quantitative Methods = 4 via open competition (ESRC steer)
  • Networks = 6 studentships offered across 2 WR ESRC Networks
  • Pathway Development awards = 1 full and 2 x 0.5 half via open competition to schools/departments/units within accredited DTC Pathways that have not been allocated Discipline awards
  • Collaborative awards = 6 via open competition.  These require collaboration with a non-academic partner whose contribution can be financial or in-kind. The number of studentships given here represents the overall ESRC allocation of 48 at an average rate of 3.5 years (i.e. half 1+3 and half +3) and that the match funding arrangements for 0.5 studentship allocations means that in practice the number of available studentships in the three DTC institutions is somewhat greater, but varies according to availability of additional funding to support ESRC studentships.

The notification of the distribution of studentships was circulated to schools/departments on 22 July 2013 to ensure adequate lead time locally.

Most of the studentships are available as either 1+3 awards (1 year masters + 3 years PhD study) or +3 awards (3 years PhD study) and can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis.

For details of the funding on offer see Q11.



Q2. What will it cost the school/department to match/co-fund a studentship?

Once again this year, the DTC have offered some schools/departments 0.5 studentships to encourage them to explore opportunities for match funding.   This new model is intended to support the strategic value of a collaborative environment; capacity build; improve regional outreach, and whilst continuing to offer awards in areas of excellence, maximise the number of studentships that can be supported by the ESRC funding.  Schools/departments are also encouraged to consider match funding their whole number studentships allocations on the same basis, which would then allow them to offer additional ESRC-badged awards.

This model offers schools/departments opportunities to consider innovative approaches to the use of their studentship allocation for 2014/15.

Where 0.5 studentships are allocated we suggest that these can be matched in the following ways:

  • From the school/department itself – using existing non-ESRC scholarship funding, faculty/school scholarship funding
  • From an external third party – private, public or third sector
  • From linking it up with another pathway where a 0.5 studentship has been allocated

To count as an ESRC award at least 50% of the studentship will be funded via the DTC.

In Session 2013/14, the full cost of a standard +3 studentship was £3,900 fees + £13,726 maintenance + RTSG of £750 = £18,376 and the full cost of a standard 1+3 studentship was £3,900 fees + £13,726 maintenance = £17,626.

Thus, if a School/Department wishes to fund 50% of a full studentship, the expected level of the commitment for Session 2013/14 was either £8,813 or £9,188.  This figure would be increased in line with inflation in following years.


Q3.  Fees Only – what are the implications for match funders

Where a student is not eligible for a full award, the Home/EU standard Research Council Fee costs (£3,900 in session 2013/14) and the RTSG (where eligible) have to be covered 100% by the DTC, and other support would need to be funded separately and cannot be reported to ESRC as match-funded.  Thus, to offer the student the full award, the department/school would be required to cover a maintenance grant, which should be at least equivalent to 50% of a full studentship.


Eligibility for studentship funding


Q4. Are the studentships open to non-home students?

The awards are open to UK/EU applicants, but are not normally open to applicants who are liable to pay academic fees at the international fee rate. UK applicants, who meet the residency criteria, will be eligible for a full award paying tuition fees and maintenance.  EU applicants are normally eligible for an award paying tuition fees only.  However, EU applicants who have been resident in the UK for at least 3 years immediately preceding the date of the award are eligible for a full award paying tuition fees and maintenance.

However, the ESRC have relaxed the residency eligibility rules in the strategic areas of Economics and Advanced Quantitative Methods (AQM).  This means that UK, EU and international applicants wishing to study in these areas may apply for a full award paying tuition fees and maintenance.  As the DTC only provides fees at the UK/EU standard Research Council rate, then the difference between the home and overseas fee will have to be met by Schools/Departments.  RCUK has stipulated that students must not pay any shortfall in fees.

Further details about the ESRC’s residency requirements and eligibility for funding can be found here http://www.esrc.ac.uk/funding-and-guidance/funding-opportunities/looking-for-funding/eligibility.aspx

Please also refer to Q14. for the ESRC rules governing eligibility for overseas fieldwork expenses, and the arrangements for accessing these.


Q5. Are the studentships open to both full-time and part-time students?

Yes, the ESRC are keen to attract applications from part-time as well as full-time students.  Studentships can be held on a part-time basis subject to a minimum time commitment of 50%.

  • Full-time 1+3 students must submit within 5 years of starting their Masters
  • Part-time 1+3 students must submit within 9 years of starting their Masters
  • Full-time +3 students must submit within 4 years of starting their doctoral studies
  • Part-time +3 students must submit within 7 years of starting their doctoral studies

Q6. Employment – can a student be ‘required’ to teach?

ESRC studentship award holders are encouraged to undertake a certain amount of paid teaching or other research work during their studentship provided that they spend a minimum of 1800 hours (based on a 37.5 hr week for 48 weeks) each academic year on their doctoral research and research training.  Their programme of postgraduate training must be compatible with such work and their supervisor must approve.  Demonstrating, teaching, or other types of employment, should not be a compulsory element of research training.


Q7. Can current students apply for one of the studentships?

The ESRC does not expect the funding to be used for students who have already completed a substantial proportion of a PhD, for example funds should not be used to support a student entering year 3 of a 3 year programme.  It is at the DTC’s discretion to decide whether further support for a current student would represent a good investment of public funds.


Q8.  Does a student always have to have completed a research-based Masters to apply for a PhD studentship?

The ESRC Postgraduate Framework allows DTCs to determine which of their accredited funding structures is most appropriate for individual students, based on their skills and prior research training.  The ESRC expects that applicants embarking on a +3 programme would have achieved a level of research training that would allow them to proceed directly to PhD, this is usually through the attainment of a previous Masters.

So, it may not always be necessary to have a research based Masters qualification to undertake a PhD in a specific field/pathway.  The key issues to consider in such cases is whether the student has sufficient background in theory, substantive topics and more crucially research design and methodology, and whether any gaps in training are easily filled with additional courses during their 3 years as a PhD (via the DTC’s training pathways and wider generic training programme for example) or would the student effectively require the majority of a Masters programme which reflects the training pathway requirements.  Confirmation of the relevant previous research experience for a +3 student award, or the training plan expectations for a 1+3 student award, must be outlined in their application.  This Training Statement MUST be completed and give full details of previous research methods training and indications of how any gaps in training will be met.

In the first instance, applicants should contact their relevant School/Department to determine whether they would be better suited to a +3 or a 1+3 studentship.


Q9. What is the expected start date?

To be eligible for an ESRC studentship in 2014/15 students must commence their programme of postgraduate study in the 2014/15 academic session.  Awards cannot be deferred to the following year.  Successful candidates are expected to start in October 2014.  The funding will not be available until 1 October.

It is only in exceptional circumstances that a later than October start date may be possible, for example in the case of illness, or if a student needs to give notice to a current employer.


Length of awards


Q10. If a School/Department has been allocated more than one Discipline Award studentship what are the rules governing the split between offering +3 (3 year) and 1+3 (4 year programmes)?

For those departments with more than one Discipline Award, we expect you to offer the most suitable programme (3 year or 4 year) to the best candidates.

Where 0.5 studentships have been allocated they may be deployed for either a 1+3 or +3 programmes.


Financial matters


Q11. What is the financial package available?

The ESRC provides award-holders with the following annual package of financial support over the duration of their studentships:

  • A tax-free standard maintenance grant set at the UK Research Council’s national postgraduate rate, which for 2013/14 was £13,726
  • Full payment of their tuition fees at the Home/EU at standard Research Council rates; and
  • A research training support grant (RTSG) where eligible (see Q12. below for more details)

Students who are studying Economics and/or Advanced Quantitative Methods, receive a further £3,000 per annum enhancement to their maintenance grants during their doctoral studies and an enhanced RTSG where eligible.

Award-holders may also apply for additional support for Overseas Fieldwork and Difficult Language Training depending on their research needs. See Q14. and Q15. below.


Enhanced stipends


Q12. Is the DTC offering any enhanced stipends in 2014/15?

The DTC is offering enhanced stipends in Advanced Quantitative Methods (AQM) and Economics.

AQM Studentships

There are four Advanced Quantitative Methods (AQM) studentships available in 2014/15 via a competitive bid process from those school/departments that have a strong track record of AQM.  The DTC aims to give these awards to very strong students and to prioritise those who will be working with large datasets.

The AQM enhanced stipend of £3,000 per annum is intended to encourage students to undertake training in AQM and to apply this in their PhD research and beyond.  This is expected to be at a level over and above the basic generic and subject specific methods requirements.  This stipend is only available during the +3 stage of the programme, however candidates are asked to indicate at the application stage whether they would be applying for the stipend on completion of the masters training, at which time they will be required to make a separate shorter application.  Successful AQM applicants receive an enhanced RTSG where eligible of £1,000 per annum.

In May each year those students in receipt of AQM enhanced stipends are required to submit a progress report detailing the training they have undertaken and how it has impacted upon their research design/analysis.  Supervisors are also expected to comment on student training and the proposed use of quantitative methods, a DTC panel will then assess whether the enhanced stipend should continue to be paid to the student.

Economics Studentships

The DTC has opted to offer an additional £3,000 per annum (during the +3 stage of a studentship) to students on the Economics pathways.


Q13. What is the Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) allowance (incorporating UK fieldwork)?

Once the doctoral element of a studentship has started, all students are entitled to apply for  a RTSG which includes a UK Fieldwork Allowance.  This includes part-time and Fees Only award holders.  The allowance is intended to be used to pay for expenses which the student/supervisor/department deem to be in direct support of a student’s research.

Examples include:

  • UK Fieldwork Expenses
  • UK, EU and overseas conferences and summer schools
  • Language training courses
  • Reimbursement of interpreters, guides, assistants
  • Survey costs, e.g. printing, stationery, telephone calls
  • Purchase of small items of equipment e.g. cameras, tape recorders etc
  • Gifts for local informants
  • Books and other reading material not available through libraries


Q14. What Overseas Fieldwork Expenses will be covered?

The allocation of funds for fieldwork expenses is at the discretion of the DTC which will announce the process for applying for Overseas Fieldwork Expenses each December.  There will normally be three calls per year for applications to the scheme.  The ESRC have allocated a notional amount of £450 per student for Overseas Fieldwork Expenses.

It is very unlikely that the DTC will be able to fully fund a student’s overseas fieldwork trip, students may apply to use the Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) to supplement the costs associated with overseas fieldwork however this is entirely at the student’s discretion. A student’s overseas fieldwork visit will normally last for up to 12 months, be an integral part of the PhD, and take place during the life of the award.


Q15. What about Difficult Language Training?

Students should have mentioned any anticipated requirement for difficult language training on their application form.  Once registered, students will need to apply for an extension to their studentship via their home institution’s Scholarships Office.

Up to one year’s extra support (this is over and above the funded length of the studentship) may be considered if a student needs to acquire or develop a working ability with a difficult language.


Q16.  What if the actual tuition fees (e.g. premium fees in some subject areas) are higher than an ESRC award?

If a particular programme of study attracts more than the standard research council rate of fees, then the school/department is responsible for making up the difference.  The Research Council UK (RCUK) has stipulated that students should not be required to pay any shortfall in fees.


Q17.  What is the policy on maternity/paternity/adoption leave?

Maternity Leave – the ESRC allows up to 6 months paid maternity leave without the level of the student’s award being reduced.  Financial support for any time beyond six months should be sought from the HEI’s Access Fund.  Students may also apply for up to a further 6 months’ suspension of their award (unpaid) because of the pregnancy, providing a total period of paid and unpaid maternity leave of up to 12 months.

Paternity Leave – a total of 10 days paternity leave may be taken at any time during a partner’s pregnancy or within three months following the birth.  This period is regarded as additional leave of absence from studies and the award will not be extended.  If there is a need to take any further time, this must be taken as a suspension to the award.

Additional Paternity Leave – where a student’s partner has returned to work, they may be able to claim up to 26 weeks of paid additional paternity leave. In order to qualify they must have the main responsibility (alongside the responsibility of the mother or adopter taking adoption leave) for the upbringing of the child.

Adoption Leave – this has the same terms and conditions as the above.


Q18. What about Overseas Institutional Visits?

All ESRC funded research award holders are eligible to apply to the ESRC’s own Overseas Institutional Visit Scheme for a paid extension of up to three months (this can be across 3 separate visits but must be requested in a single application) to their PhD studentship in order to visit overseas institutions.  Students following a pre-described master’s course are not eligible.  Fees Only students will be entitled to a fees only extension.

From 31 January 2014 the ESRC will no longer administer this scheme directly and the DTC will be responsible for its management.  Please contact your home institution’s Scholarship Office for advice on the application process.


Q19. What about the ESRC Internship Scheme

Students will apply to the ESRC, via their central institutional authorities, in response to internship calls.  These calls are posted on the ESRC website up to three times a year and will be advertised by the DTC.

Students are also advised to monitor the wrdtc.ac.uk site where local internships opportunities will be advertised.


Q20.  How is the Disabled Student’s Allowance process managed?

In the first instance, you should contact your Scholarships Office in your home institution for information on how to make a claim for Disabled Student’s Allowance.  The DTC will claim back any approved amounts from the ESRC.


Q21. How do students apply for an ESRC studentship?

Students do not apply to the DTC directly.  All applicants MUST first contact the relevant school/department at the University in which they wish to study to be advised how to then submit an application for a research degree programme (and Masters programme if applying via the 1+3 route) and how to apply for an ESRC studentship.


Q22. Can students apply for more than one type of award?

Applicants may apply to more than one institution within the White Rose DTC for a studentship, but if selected by more than one institution, they must make a choice as only ONE application can be sent forward for consideration for any one type of award.


Q23. What are the key dates for the studentship process?

The ESRC require that the studentship process is completed by the end of April 2013 2014.  The timetable below outlines the key dates:


Key Dates

The ESRC require that the studentship process is completed by the end of April 2014.  The timetable below outlines the key dates:


WRDTC ESRC Discipline/AQM/Pathway/Collaborative (Student-Led) awards timeline
3 February 2014


3 March 2014



April 2014

Application deadline for students


Deadline for nominations from schools/departments to be submitted to DTC Office via local Scholarships Officers


Departments/students informed of outcomes by Scholarships Officers

WRDTC ESRC Networks process and timeline
7 October 2013


w/c 21 October 2013


Date tbc by Networks


3 March 2014


April 2014

Stage 1: deadline for Teams to submit Network Themes to DTC Office


2 Networks announced by DTC


Successful Networks advertise studentships, shortlist, interview etc


Nomination from Networks into DTC Office via local Scholarships Officers


Networks/students informed of outcomes by Scholarships Officers

WRDTC ESRC Collaborative awards (Academic-Led) process and timeline
9 December 2013


w/c 20 January 2014


Date tbc



3 April 2014


April 2014

Deadline for collaborative award proposals to be submitted to DTC Office


6 Collaborative awards announced by DTC


Successful collaborative award holders set own deadline and advertise studentships, shortlist, interview etc


Nomination into DTC Office via local Scholarships Officers


Students/staff informed of outcomes by Scholarships Officers


Further information – University of Leeds

DTC Information


Scholarship Application Forms and Procedure


How to apply for a Postgraduate Research Degree



Further information – University of Sheffield

DTC Information


Scholarships Information


How to apply for a Postgraduate Research Degree



Further information – University of York

DTC Information


Scholarships Information for students


How to apply for a research degree



Updated November 2013