If you are a prospective QUADRAT DTP applicant, please review the below FAQs before submitting your application. If you cannot find the answer to your question please email the DTP Coordinator at quadrat@abdn.ac.uk 

Please scroll down the page for FAQs specifically for international applicants, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI), and interviews.

FAQs for ALL applicants

All studentships are funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). For 2021-22, this funding covers UK Level tuition fees (set by the department), an annual maintenance stipend of £15,609 (paid monthly in arrears) and a research training and support grant (known as RTSG) of £9,000 for the duration of your PhD.

Where training is compulsory most costs will be covered by QUADRAT (some but not all subsistence will be included – variable depending on the training/field course).

We offer 20 NERC-funded studentships annually. This breaks down to 5 studentships per partner school. Our funding covers 5 intakes of students in total (100 students total).  

Studentships are 42 months (3.5 years) or part-time equivalent (min. 50%).  

The PhD studentships can be full of part time. If you are interested in a part time studentship this must be agreed in advance with the QUADRAT DTP Coordinator and the project supervisor. Some projects are more suited to part-time study than others depending on content, so it is important to discuss this with the project supervisor.

Full time: 42 months (3.5 years)

Part time: up to 84 months (7 years)

Student applications must be submitted by 12 noon on Wednesday 01 December 2021 for entry in October 2022.

Projects will be listed on the QUADRAT website and on FindaPhD.com. Please see our website for detailed information about how to apply. Remember, you can apply for a maximum of 2 projects. Don’t wait for the deadline, please apply as early as you can.

You must submit the QUADRAT application form and your supporting documents and 2 references. It is your responsibility to ensure all documents are submitted by the relevant deadline. Late and incomplete applications will not be considered.

The QUADRAT application is a single stage process. You are required to complete the QUADRAT application form and submit your supporting documentation. All complete and eligible applications will be reviewed by the project supervisor. If you have any queries about the content of the project, please direct these to the project supervisor.

The DTP is funded by NERC which follows Research Councils UK’s harmonised postgraduate terms and conditions regarding student eligibility. UK and international candidates are eligible to apply. See our website for more details, the important points are quoted below:

To be classed as a Home student, you must:

January 2022 update: Republic of Ireland (ROI) candidates will now be considered to have a home fee status for entry in October 2022. Please be advised that the same residency requirements apply provided these candidates have lived either in the UK or ROI for at least 3 consecutive years immediately prior to the start date of the studentship. We cannot yet confirm fee status for ROI candidates beyond the 2022/23 academic year.

If you have further questions regarding eligibility please contact quadrat@abdn.ac.uk.

You must have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years immediately prior to the start of the studentship (01 October 2022). UK Nationals who have temporarily been abroad to study during this period will still be eligible for home fee status.

Republic of Ireland (ROI) candidates will now be considered to have home fee status for entry in October 2022. Please be advised that the same residency requirements apply provided these candidates have lived either in the UK or ROI for at least 3 consecutive years immediately prior to the start date of the studentship. We cannot yet confirm fee status for ROI candidates beyond the 2022/23 academic year.

Applicants who do not meet the above criteria will be classed as an international fee-paying student.

Yes, you are more than welcome to reapply in a subsequent year.

No, you need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree with honours to apply (or international equivalent) for these studentships. Candidates are expected to achieve a minimum of a 2.1 at undergraduate level and as such, any offer made will be conditional upon you achieving and evidencing this.

Please note that there is strong competition for our studentships and many of the applicants will already have a master’s degree.

No, we do not offer an MRes option or follow the 1+3 model. Our studentships are 3.5 years entirely at PhD level.

You can apply for up to 2 projects. When submitting your application, you are asked to indicate your first and second choice projects. You will be interviewed for a maximum of 1 project.

All of our projects are advertised on our Find a PhD page and on our website. The word limit on Find a PhD is restricted so you will find additional supplementary information on our website so please make sure you read both adverts carefully before applying.

Yes, you can apply to multiple programmes / funding sources however you can only hold one offer of PhD study.

Students will be registered and based in the institution and school of their lead supervisor.

If a project has a partner organisation, students will have the opportunity to work at the partner sites – the length of which depends on the project and the partner organisation.

Yes, both Aberdeen University and Queen’s University Belfast will accept relevant work experience in place of the required academic requirements. The school PGR administrator will be able to advise regarding these requirements. School contacts can be found here: https://www.quadrat.ac.uk/contact/

Yes, we would always recommend making contact and discussing the project with the supervisor before you apply. The student-supervisor relationship is very important and it is vital that you communicate as much as possible so that you can establish what it would be like to work together for 42 months.

An academic can only be primary supervisor to one student in any QUADRAT cohort and cannot be primary supervisor to students in two consecutive cohorts, however they can be secondary supervisor to any number of others. More information about supervision can be found here: https://www.quadrat.ac.uk/training/supervision/

A good place to start is our Find a PhD page and our list of projects. Once you have narrowed down and area of interest, you can contact the project supervisor and discuss the project and your suitability for it in more detail before deciding whether or not to apply.


No – QUADRAT asked instead for a cover letter. This should ideally be 1-1.5 A4 pages in length and should briefly outline your relevant experience and why you think you are a good fit for the project. It should be addressed to the primary supervisor of the project you are applying for. If you submit 2 applications, please also submit 2 cover letters.

You can request or download (from your student portal) a provisional or interim transcript which details all of your courses and grades to date but is still an official document. Please ask your school admin team for information about how to obtain this at your institution. Once your studies are complete we would require a final copy of this document.

An academic CV concentrates on your academic career and work experience which is relevant to your degree discipline. This should include your educational history including relevant modules and projects, internships, placements etc. please keep your CV to a maximum of 2 pages including 2 referee contact details.

There is no clear answer for this – it is very much dependent on the project you are applying for, and the applicant pool in any given year. This will be determined by the supervisory team reviewing your application.

We would recommend you focus on:

  • demonstrating your research experience,
  • highlighting relevant and transferrable skills (skills can also come from extra-curricular activities as well as from your education e.g. leadership, project management, teamwork),
  • internships and placements,
  • academic references are very important

Yes, your references should ideally be academic since this gives us the best idea of your suitability for PhD study in this academic subject area. We cannot accept personal or character references. Relevant employment references can be submitted if appropriate academic referees cannot be provided, but they must be relevant to the PhD project you are applying to.

No, we would not be able to accept a reference from the project supervisor themselves. Please seek out alternative referees in this case.

Yes, within reason. QUADRAT funding comes from NERC and UKRI who have a very specific scientific remit. All of our projects must fit with those remits and they go through a rigorous review process before being advertised. Any changes to a project would have to be submitted to QUADRAT and approved by the management board.

You will develop a strong network of colleagues and friends to support your through your PhD studies. This will become your academic community who you can bounce ideas off and collaborate with now and in the future.

This is your Research Training and Support Grant provided in direct support of your research activities during your PhD e.g. day-to-day running of your research project, lab consumables, non-QUADRAT conference attendance, project fieldwork expenses etc. The RTSG should not be used for the cost of supervisor travel or costs. Supervisors should find alternative sources of funding.

FAQs for international applicants

Yes, international candidates are now eligible to apply to QUADRAT however international recruitment is capped. We can recruit a maximum of 6 international candidates per cohort (30% of our cohort).

Our recruitment of international candidates is capped at 30% of the cohort which means we can recruit a maximum of 6 international candidates per year. This is a cap not a quota.

Yes, all successful candidates will receive the same funding through QUADRAT studentships. This covers:

  • UK level tuition fees (fee waiver for international candidates)
  • Monthly maintenance stipend
  • Research training support grant (RTSG)

No, QUADRAT has committed to a fee waiver for all successful international candidates. This means the fee gap will not have to be covered by the individual.

No, the studentship does not cover visa costs, immigration health surcharge or relocation costs either for the candidate or for family members.

It should be expected that there will be significant costs associated with relocation to the UK which are not covered by the QUADRAT studentship. This can include but are not limited to the following:

For visa and immigration advice please contact the relevant team below:

University of Aberdeen: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/study/international/visa-information.php

Queen’s University Belfast: https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/iss/VisasImmigration/

For visa and immigration advice please contact the relevant team below:

University of Aberdeen: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/study/international/visa-information.php

Queen’s University Belfast: https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/iss/VisasImmigration/

Please submit your documents in English – these need to be officially translated, we cannot accept self-translated documents for verification purposes. We will review your documents and use the international standard ECCTIS procedures to assess whether your foreign qualification is equivalent to the entry requirements for QUADRAT.

Your degree certificates and academic transcripts are one of the most important parts of your application because it allows us to see whether you have completed relevant and useful courses related to the project you are applying for, and to see the grades you have achieved. This is key to assessing your suitability for the project.

Translated documents should include the stamp or mark of the translator which indicates it is an official document. You may be able to ask your institution to provide you with a copy in the English language.

There will be a fee attached to the translation of documents however this is essential to your application.

This document must be in date. If you have this certificate please submit it with your application, otherwise you can submit it later once you have it. If you are successful at interview and an offer of study is made, it will likely be conditional on our receipt of this certificate if English is not your first language.

Typically, if you have already undertaken study in an English-speaking country, this would no longer be required. See below for full details:

University of Aberdeen: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/study/international/requirements-pg-266.php

Queen’s University Belfast: https://www.qub.ac.uk/International/International-students/Applying/English-language-requirements/

Both institutions have extensive support and dedicated teams to help students find accommodation. Please see the below links for full details:

University of Aberdeen: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/accommodation/

Queen’s University Belfast: https://www.qub.ac.uk/accommodation/

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion

Yes, as of the 2021-22 student intake (cohort 3), UKRI and NERC have widened the eligibility criteria for DTP recruitment to include international applicants to the DTP. However, recruitment of international candidates is capped at 30% of the annual cohort (6 places in a cohort of 20). This is a cap not a quota.

Both institutions are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion. There are a number of student support networks in place which students can get involved with. There are also staff networks. QUADRAT regularly advertises through these networks and asks these groups for guidance and to review our processes.

University of Aberdeen: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/students/support/equality-diversity-inclusion.php#panel4031 and https://www.abdn.ac.uk/students/support/equality-diversity-inclusion.php

Queen’s University Belfast: https://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/HumanResources/diversity-and-inclusion/

Yes, QUADRAT is required to report EDI statistics to NERC as part of our annual report. We report on this data for 3 categories: all applicants, applicants shortlisted for interview, and appointed applicants. All data is anonymised.

QUADRAT captures the data categories requested by NERC and UKRI. These are: gender, age, ethnic origin, disability, and sexual orientation.

Our application form includes an EDI section with a series of questions. We always give the applicant the chance to choose the ‘prefer not to disclose’ option.

This section outlines the reasons we need to capture this data, and how it will be used. The information is stored safely and confidentially by the DTP Coordinator and is not shared.

We include an optional ‘equality statement’ question to give candidates the chance to share further information with us if they wish – in this way we try to capture ‘whole person’ information so that we can factor personal circumstances into the decision-making process. This statement is the only part of the EDI information which will be shared with the project supervisor since it can directly influence the information which has been provided in the application.

NERC believes that everyone should feel welcomed, valued and included, and we challenge discriminatory or biased behaviour. We thrive to fund the best of the best, regardless of their background. To keep improving our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy, we gain information on the diversity profile of our applicants. This is important for NERC but also the University to put effective policies in place to offer equal opportunities.

Please be assured that the data you supply will be only be used for monitoring purposes and in conjunction with the review of your application. As such it will only be handled by the QUADRAT DTP Coordinator and will only be shared with individuals who are integral to the interview and selection process. Only anonymised data will be reported to NERC.

Yes, we have developed an ‘equality statement’ which is an optional part of the application form for candidates. The guidance for this section is as follows:

We understand that everyone’s circumstances are different and cannot be easily defined. This statement is optional – please use this space to include any other information you would like us to consider alongside your application. This includes any circumstances, past or present, that you feel might have influenced the opportunities you had/have to develop skills related to this application. Such circumstances may be directly or indirectly related to education per se. This will allow the panel to assess, from your point of view, your skills relative to opportunities.

Interview FAQs

Interviews are scheduled to take place from Monday 28th February to Friday 4th March 2022. Interviews cannot be accommodated outwith these dates.

All interviews will take place over Microsoft Teams.

Interview invitations are usually sent out in early to Mid-February. Our recruitment timeline and key dates are listed on our website here: https://www.quadrat.ac.uk/how-to-apply/

We would recommend speaking with the project supervisor, they will be able to help you prepare. You should treat a PhD interview like a formal job interview. Make sure you follow the presentation brief in full. Think about how your education to date has prepared you for PhD study. Don’t make assumptions that the interview panel know how suitable you are – you have to show them why you are the right candidate for the position. Be clear and concise in your answers.