Are you interested in tackling climate change? Biodiversity and conservation? Green technological advances? Rewilding? Saving ancient woodlands? Renewable energy? Or any other subject area linked to environmental sustainability? If you are, perhaps it is time to consider pursuing a PhD. To give you some background on the exciting PhD opportunities that may be available to you, you can learn more about NERC below and on our website.

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is the funding body supporting the QUADRAT Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). QUADRAT DTP came to fruition through the DTP2 call for proposals in 2018. It is one of several DTP’s supported by NERC across the country – 15 in the DTP1 call and 17 in DTP2. NERC is the “largest funder of independent environmental science, training and innovation in the UK,” always striving to advance environmental science through the commission of new, world-leading research, infrastructure and training to encourage and enable valuable scientific breakthroughs across the sector.

NERC is part of UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), a body of research councils working in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities and government to create a dynamic environment in which research and innovation can and will thrive. NERC partnerships enable the sharing of knowledge, skills and technology, and further still support economic growth and responsible environmental management across the UK.

Working alongside partner organisations allows NERC to invest public funding in to strategic research that addresses key societal challenges, helping business, government and society benefit from natural resources, build resilience to, predict and respond to natural and environmental hazards, and to understand and manage environmental change. NERC work in collaboration with policymakers and industry to align our knowledge in delivering and supporting sustainable economic growth and wellbeing in the UK and globally because “understanding our changing planet is vital for our wellbeing and economic prosperity.”

The NERC science remit is broadly focussed on the environmental sciences, however the need for multi- and interdisciplinary science is growing all the time, and as such NERC encourage and are actively involved in a wide variety of cross-disciplinary projects.

NERC work hard to bring a wide variety of students into the environmental sciences. They run an annual summer Research Experience Placement (REP) scheme for undergraduate students completing degrees in quantitative subjects (e.g. maths, statistics, engineering, computer science), to provide them with an opportunity to explore how their skillset could contribute to environmental work. This is administered by the DTP and is a fantastic way to open these students up to DTP PhD opportunities. So far, we have had huge uptake and success with this popular scheme and look forward to continuing with it on an annual basis and hope to see some of the students return to us for PhD study! You can see what these students have been up to here.

NERC research is frequently a product of partnerships with other research funders and research users for greater benefit and impact on the research community. As a result, NERC are involved in the UKRI  Policy internships scheme which is open to all UKRI research council DTP and CDT students. This opens up placements with policy-making and regulatory partner organisations to further the career opportunities of PhD students.  There is also the UK-Canada Globalink Doctoral Exchange Scheme which offers students the opportunity to develop into global citizens with international competencies during 12-week research placements at Canadian Universities.

The NERC science remit includes terrestrial, marine, freshwater, science-based archaeology, atmospheric and polar sciences, and Earth observation. The focus of NERC scientists’ is the “physical, chemical and biological processes on which our planet and life itself depends.” The QUADRAT DTP themes (biodiversity, Earth systems and environmental management) are designed to fit neatly within this remit, and also to cross-cut the scientific areas covered by each of the partner schools, encouraging cross-disciplinary collaboration. We currently have students working in almost all of these subject areas, from monitoring marine plankton biodiversity, DNA metabarcoding, community dynamics, exploring relationships between glaciers, volcanoes and climate, prevalence of persistent organic pollutants, governance of marine protected areas, palaeoenvironmental history of ancient woodlands and much, much more. Please visit our website for an introduction to all of our current students and their research.


If you have any questions or think you may be interested in applying to the QUADRAT DTP in the future, please do get in contact via

Follow us on Twitter: @QUADRATdtp & @NERCscience


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