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ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Social Sciences


Latest update: 23 March 2021


Returning Postgraduate Students 

Dear Students

At this difficult time the Cambridge ESRC DTP team send you all our very best thoughts and hope you will be able to stay well and strong. We are working to support you over the forthcoming weeks so that you can continue to study remotely and try to ensure that your research, as far as possible, is not disrupted.  We will do our best to keep in contact with you and would encourage you all to do the same and support each other while we are dispersed.

The DTP team is operating remotely and we will do our best to provide whatever help we can. You should of course keep in close contact with your supervisors and departments.

In the meantime, we have put together a short FAQ that we hope will help – if there is anything missing, however, please let us know.  Do check this page regularly for new or amended information.

Additional sites we recommend you refer to: 

To all returning Postgraduate Students

The University recognises that the closure of University buildings may have a severe impact on your ability to continue with your research.

You should discuss with your Supervisor what work you can do during this time. This may include background reading, online language learning or drafting chapters. 

Your College Graduate Tutor can also be a useful source of advice and support during this time.

The Protocol for the Return of Postgraduate Research Students is available at this link:

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, UKRI Chief Executive's open letter on UKRI’s support for doctoral students

Fieldwork and Travel

I am on fieldwork - what should I do?

In line with the University’s guidance, where DTP students are able safely to leave a fieldwork site, they should do so. 

You should also continue to follow Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice and make/change your arrangements accordingly.  If you need to extend your period of fieldwork or if you are unable to continue with your fieldwork you should inform your supervisors immediately.  You should also contact the Insurance Office to ensure that your travel insurance remains valid. 

If you are coming to the end of your fieldwork we advise that you consider returning home rather than to Cambridge, unless Cambridge is your home.    If travel restrictions prevent you leaving your fieldwork location you should let your supervisors know.  You should also contact the Insurance Office to ensure that your travel insurance remains valid. 

I need to return from fieldwork urgently – are there funds to help?

The DTP has provided emergency funds to your department so that they can help you make any travel arrangements. Key Travel (the University’s preferred supplier) may also be able to assist you.  

There is also a Special Hardship Fund and similar resources available – please see Funding Section

I need to change my fieldwork plans – how do I do this?

Your supervisors are available for advice on changes to fieldwork plans, and any changes to your Leave to Work Away

Should I make any future fieldwork or travel plans?

We would advise you not to book or pay for any travel to or accommodation in any countries to which access is already limited or blocked. Given the rapidly developing situation, this advice effectively amounts to recommending that you do not book or pay for any research or conference travel.

Homeworking for students

Can I work on my research from home?

Yes, and you should try to do this if at all possible 

If you are able to undertake any work on your research from home - that is away from Cambridge - we ask that you apply to work away from Cambridge.  We are asking you to do this so we are aware of your location as you will continue to be a registered student.  You do not need to apply before you leave Cambridge. It is also essential you apply for leave to work away as it will relieve you of residency requirements.

 We appreciate that you might not be able to work at the same rate at home, or carry out required activities and that you may need more time to work on your thesis.  Because of this, if you later find that you need additional time, you can apply to extend your submission date.  We recommend that you do this around 6 months before your submission deadline when you will have a clear idea of the amount of additional time needed - see section on Progression

Will I still get my ESRC funding while the University is closed?

You should still receive your maintenance payments as usual. Please note these are processed centrally and there may be slight delays to the standard payroll.  

Your fees will continue to be paid directly until the end of your third year.

I need a laptop or other equipment to work from home, can the ESRC fund this?

If you do not have a personal laptop, or if you need special adjustments, please contact your Department or College in the first instance.

Should I still work to the doctoral process as originally set out before the Covid-19 outbreak?

First Year PhD students should proceed to prepare a first year report.  This normally includes a literature review/analysis as directed by your supervisors.  Deadlines and modes of assessment/review are determined by departments. In some cases we may need a little more time to confirm transition from 1st to 2nd year when you get back to Cambridge, but in the majority of cases, this will be straightforward and so should not be a cause to worry.

PhDs in their 2nd and 3rd years - The issues relating to PhDs will be many and varied but in almost all cases it is clear that several months working at home (or in college for those students who can’t go home) can be very productively used in writing a thesis-ready introduction, materials and methods, analysing and collating findings or results, producing discussion etc. and undertaking additional online skills development.

Progression - Extensions, Submissions and Intermissions

Extension to my doctorate, how do I go about this?

UKRI have recently issued further advice around extensions and we hope to receive more guidance shortly.

We understand that your progress may have been impeded by the corona virus and that you may need more time to work on your research and prepare your thesis for submission. Because of this, if you find that you need additional time, you can apply to extend your submission date. 

For doctoral students we recommend that you do this around six months before your submission deadline when you will have a clear idea of the amount of additional time needed. You should discuss this with your supervisor before you submit your application. You should also ask your funding body whether it is possible to extend your period of funding (see also the question about financial hardship).

Please remember that your College Graduate Tutor can be a useful source of advice and support on this to complement or clarify advice from your supervisor. 

Update:  UKRI have now made an announcement regarding extensions - please see their web page for full information

Should I intermit?

It would not be appropriate to intermit if you can be working at home productively or wherever you are for a number of months, whichever year you are in, the ESRC does not recommend emergency intermission at this time. 

You can be assured that submission date extensions will be possible in due course if required.  However, in many cases extensions may not be required; examiners will be flexible and pragmatic when assessing dissertations and examining students who have been affected by these events.

In all cases, if you are working outside Cambridge, you should apply for Leave to Work Away (LTWA) until the end of June.

Types of Intermission

Non-medical intermission
If circumstances mean you are unable to progress your research in homeworking, please discuss with your supervisors whether a non-medical intermission might be the best approach.

Students are advised to continue their study at home or wherever they are and to consider adaptations to their research where this makes remote working more feasible. This may apply particularly where students have been unable to collect field data. You should contact your supervisors regarding the process to be followed.  Please discuss with your supervisor in the first instance.

Medical Intermission
If you are unwell either from Covid-19 or other illness and unable to work for more than two weeks you should seek a medical intermission; if you are caring for members of your family or friends who are ill, this can also apply.  However, almost everyone else should be able to effectively work away from Cambridge for a few months as outlined above.

See funding in relation to Intermissions

How do I go about intermitting?

If you are applying for non-medical reasons this should be done in the first instance through CamSIS:


I am close to submitting or have already submitted, how does this affect the next steps in the process?

If you are close to submitting please note that softbound dissertations can now be submitted electronically to Degree Committees during the period when the Student Registry is closed due to Coronavirus. 

If you have already submitted a softbound thesis your Degree Committee may arrange for your viva voce examination to be held via video conference.  Please contact your Degree Committee directly for further details. 

Can I submit my hardbound thesis and my e-thesis?

The Student Services Centre (SCC) will not be open to receive hardbound theses.  We are investigating whether the SSC can be opened for a specific period each week to receive post, which could include theses. 

You should submit your e-thesis unless informed otherwise by Student Registry.   

When will I receive confirmation that I have been approved for the degree?

Degree Committees and the Board of Graduate Studies will meet remotely over the coming months to consider the approval of degrees and other individual student matters. 

Who can I contact for more guidance on the formalities around my degree?

Please contact Student Registry at


Will I be funded for any intermission/extension?

Fully-funded DTP students approved for non-medical intermission due to disruption from Covid-19 will continue to receive maintenance.

I’m a fees-only student, what happens if I need to intermit?

Fees-only DTP students approved for non-medical intermission due to disruption from Covid-19 should contact their maintenance sponsor, or consider the hardship support available in Departments and Colleges. and

Special Hardship Fund

A fund was established for student hardship in 2018. All students who are in general financial need due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) should access this Special Hardship Fund rather than Bell, Abbott and Barnes or the Postgraduate Hardship Funds. 

The maximum claim is £500 for students impacted by the Coronavirus (Covid-19) should they need this level of funding.

During this period, where many are working from home, the University intends to continue transferring the funds to the colleges to be transferred to the student.  However, in exceptional cases, if this is not possible, please indicate this on the form in section B attached and we will make a bank transfer directly to the student.   

Applications must be made through the Senior Tutor of your College and should be sent to

Further information around the hardship fund

Download the form to apply

ESRC discretionary funds

We will continue with the usual process for discretionary funds and portals have been re-opened for applications until 12th June. 

Please see here for all information around ESRC discretionary funding.

Can I still use my RTSG funds (PhD years 1-3)?

Your RTSG funds are held by your department.  There is no reason why you should not access these funds, but you will need to contact your department’s accounts office in the first instance to find out what their current process will be. 

Overseas Institution Visit Competition

This has been reopened and in 2020/21, the ESRC DTP will support up to five students, to be awarded competitively in a single competition. Full details are available here.   The closing date of the competiton is 18 November 2020.

Annual Lecture

This year's annual lecture will be held online via Zoom and will take place on 26 October 2020 at 5.30pm. 

Internships - contact Dr K. Stamati (

My internship has been interrupted due to Covid-19, what do I do?

In line with the University’s guidance, where DTP students are able safely to leave an internship, they should do so.   However, where your internship project can be completed remotely, or where you can provide other collaboration with the partner organisation, please be flexible and consider alternatives.

Students completing internships ahead of schedule should ensure that their intermission is rescinded.  To do this you should contact your supervisors in the first instance.

What is happening with new Internships and Placements?

The next call for Internships and placements has been postponed during the C-19 lockdown, however, we are encouraging remote student internships with non-academic partners at this time.

There are many possibilities for constructive non-academic engagement. A number of students exploring the opportunity to engage with non-academic partners in collecting data or conducting literature review before writing policy briefings for government departments or publications and online blogs for small companies and industry partners. Other examples include consulting in a social science issue that the non-academic partners faces or help with the covid-19 response.

Additionally you should discuss with your supervisor's opportunities through their networks e.g. with another organisation that supervisors know of who would welcome an intern at this time to e.g. quickly develop relevant briefing materials, run analyses, collect online data etc. 

Genuine Knowledge Exchange placements can be funded by the ESRC DTP; contact Partnerships Lead, Dr Konstantina Stamati ( for more details.


How will I continue my training?

Our Training and Engagement days where training and collaboration opportunities were available across all cohorts have been postponed until further notice. We are working to develop resources to help you access DTP support and training during the University closure, and to help you minimise any disruption to DTP opportunities.

The training manager will be in touch shortly to advise you of online support, webinars and other resources she is currently setting up for you over the coming weeks.  You will not be left without any training to access.

Your supervisors, departments, and the University more broadly, will also offer all possible support to you and you should adhere closely to any guidance provided.

Can I use my RTSG for online training?

Definitely, this would be a good time to use the funds for this type of training.

What happens to my TNA?

Our Training Manager is working remotely and can advise on how you might alter your TNA to reflect what you could possibly do online. 

MPhil Students

I’m an MPhil student – what support and advice can you provide while the University is closed?

Your individual course organisers are currently working on plans for completion and examining of your course and should be the first port of call for questions, though please be patient as they work through the many issues.  You will certainly be notified as soon as any decisions are made, so if you can hold off with too many questions at this time, then that would be helpful.


How can I keep in touch with the DTP and my DTP cohort?

You can keep in touch primarily through the training manager or collaborations manager – Alison and Konstantina.    You can also contact Loraine G, the Director of the DTP, on 

We are planning to hold regular online coffee mornings where you will be able to chat with us remotely and with your fellow students, to share questions, challenges and hopefully some positive stories too.

I am feeling very depressed by what is happening, where can I go for help?

If you are unable to find the support that you need you can also go to your supervisors and your department although we recognise this may not be possible or feel comfortable.  If that is the case, then we suggest you go to this website as you will find all the services available to you in the University that can help you with your wellbeing:

We have also included a list of other sources below.

I’m not depressed but just feeling very lonely or dreading being alone for a period of time to come.

We are aware that this may be a period of self-isolation or minimized social interaction for some of us, and can bring feelings of loneliness. Though prioritizing your physical health is important, we wish to stress how important it is that your mental health is cared for in equal measure.

Please find below helpful resources:

The kindness and strength of our student community at Cambridge has led to the creation of a google sheet, which lists recommendations for books, songs, Netflix shows and more, which can help self-isolation feel a bit less isolating. Here is the link!

In addition to the above, please find below a list of links to helpful resources that can give you some pointers and ideas for how to combat loneliness, including phone numbers and helplines in case you want to reach out:

Independent age, providing befriending services: 0800 319 6789

Royal Voluntary Service for help, advice and support: 0845 608 0122

Call The Silver Line for information, advice or just for a chat, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week 0800 470 80 90

Visit Friends of the Elderly for year round support or call 0330 332 1110.

Age UK, support and advice for older people, advice line: 0800 169 6565

Contact the Elderly, tackling loneliness and social isolation among older people: 0800 716543

Sense, for advice and support on deafblindness 0300 330 9256 or 020 7520 0972. Textphone: 0300 330 9256 or 020 7520 0972

When life is difficult, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them free on 116 123 or email them at

For further information and support you could also visit Mind’s How to cope with loneliness or call 0300 123 3393

If you are younger and feeling lonely, you can call SupportLine on 01708 765 200, or the Calm Zone, which is a helpline offering support to men in the UK, of any age, who are down or in crisis, 0800 585858.

If you are under 25, you can also call Get Connected on 0808 808 4994

Independent Age have produced a free guide, If you’re feeling lonely. It can be downloaded from their website or by calling 0800 319 6789.

If you think your parent might be lonely: take a look at the following When They Get Older Loneliness Guide.