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ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Social Sciences


Cambridge ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP)

We are delighted that you are interested in applying for a Cambridge ESRC DTP Studentship.

The Cambridge DTP offers at least 33 studentships for admission in October each year, in the following broad areas of social science enquiry:

  • Sustainability, prosperity and wellbeing

  • Inequality, equity, justice and economic growth

  • Conflict, culture, mobility and development

  • Emerging technologies, human behaviour and productivity

  • Cognition, behaviour, language and learning

You can find out more about each of these clusters of ideas and disciplines here.

A DTP studentship

  • Can be either a Masters + PhD (1+3) or PhD (+3);
  • Can be full or part-time;
  • Is available to candidates from Home, EU and overseas domiciles;
  • Provides up to the Home rate fees + £16,062 pa stipend (current rates) + personal allowance for research training needs

For more information, click on the subsections below:

Who are we looking for?

If you are passionate about understanding human behaviour and society, and committed to studying these at the highest level, you will be welcome at Cambridge. We are hoping to attract students of demonstrable academic potential, from all backgrounds, with an appetite for research and an aspiration towards a career in the humanities and social sciences.

We accept students from Universities across the UK and are also now able to support students from outside the UK.

We accept students wishing to study on either a part-time or full-time basis.  We are also particularly keen to attract students who have inter- or cross-disciplinary interests and are hoping to do research with industry or third sector partners.

Are you interested in a Master’s course before doing a PhD?

If you are on track to achieve a 2:1 or higher in your undergraduate degree course, or your grades have been affected by disruption, a Master’s course at Cambridge could be the ideal next step for you.

The ESRC DTP offers a ‘1+3’ route which supports students for a one year Master’s degree followed by three years’ funding for the PhD. You could use the Master’s course to provide you with a sure foundation for further study at the PhD level (including advanced training in social scientific methods).  You would need to meet the criteria set by your department to continue on to the PhD, but a 1+3 studentship could be just the thing for you.

Engagement with the DTP in years two, three and four of the PhD especially will offer additional opportunities to enhance your methodological and professional skills base.

Are you interested in direct entry to a PhD programme?

If you have sufficient prior training – for example,  a relevant Master’s qualification and/or advanced training in social scientific methods, you may be able to start a three-year doctoral programme straight away (3 years in total).

If you are nominated for a PhD studentship, we will evaluate the relevance of your prior training to make sure you will be adequately equipped to start the PhD with real confidence.  On occasion, even if students already have a Master’s degree or have completed some social science training,  we may propose to fund a Cambridge Master’s programme first in order to consolidate foundational learning before moving on to the doctorate (that is, we offer a 1+3 funding package), or we may build in some additional training during the PhD by offering to fund a period slightly longer than three years.

Whatever your level of prior training, the DTP will offer additional opportunities to enhance your research methods and professional skills. 

Can I bring my own ideas?

Normally, DTP students identify their own research questions and projects and then request a preliminary discussion with potential supervisors in their chosen department in order to refine their proposal (a list of departments participating in the DTP can be found below).  

The research questions and projects must be aligned with one or more of the DTP clusters mentioned above.  The clusters are deliberately broad but you can always discuss with your potential supervisors which cluster best matches your proposed project.   

If you are awarded a DTP studentship at Cambridge you will have the opportunity to develop close ties to academics and other students working within these broad areas of enquiry. 

Further information:

Part-time PhDs

For the PhD, the part-time programme runs at 60% of full-time: that is, studying three days out of five in a normal week, over five years rather than three.

Part-time students have the same opportunities as every other student. You will be accepted at a Cambridge College so that you can fully participate in College life, societies and entertainments, and will be expected to spend as much time in the University as possible.

If you wish to undertake a Master’s course on a part-time basis as a foundation for doctoral research, you will need to discuss with your Department what the teaching pattern might look like and how to ensure that you can undertake essential training over a two-year period.

Further information:

What does an ESRC DTP studentship provide?

A DTP studentship will pay for University fees at the Home rate and living costs of £16,062 p.a. (current rates).

DTP students also receive a personal allowance for additional training costs, and can apply for further funding to contribute to fieldwork costs, academic exchange, and collaboration with non-academic organisations.

International students receive a Home rate DTP studentship and have access to all the opportunities provided by the DTP, but will need to find additional funding to cover the full international fee, possibly from other funders at Cambridge.   If you are made an offer of admission, you will also need to cover the costs of immigration into the UK (including a health surcharge before your studentship starts.

Further information:  

Am I eligible?

Cambridge ESRC DTP studentships are open to all students who meet the required academic conditions.  You can find out more here:

Prospective students - Economic and Social Research Council (

Once you have received an  offer of admission in your chosen Department, assuming you are successful, your Department will then decide whether to nominate you for an ESRC DTP studentship. This is a competitive process, and your application for funding will be assessed against all other applications from participating Departments.  There is no guarantee of funding at this stage.

The ERSC DTP studentship is not the only way of funding your PhD at Cambridge. Around 80% of PhD students each year find full funding; you can find other potential sources of funding using the Funding Search Tool linked below - remember to to tick the box on the application form to be considered for all funding options open to you.

Further information:

Are you interested in collaboration?

We actively encourage all DTP students to undertake industry, government, or third sector internships as part of their studentship. The flexibility of the Cambridge ESRC DTP programme means that you can gain experience and develop professional skills alongside or within your doctoral studies while still having the opportunity to be part of a vibrant scholarly community, and build strong links with your student peers.

DTP students acquire a unique set of skills that equips them for high-profile careers as leading social scientists working in government, industrial, commercial and third sector organisations, n the UK and abroad, as well as in academia.

Further information:

How do I apply?

If you are interested in applying either for a Master’s or PhD place at Cambridge in the ESRC DTP, first contact one of our participating DTP Departments to discuss your interest in a studentship and to find out more about the supervision and training on offer.

More information about the appliation process is outlined on the next page.

Application Process

What about training?

The DTP has a dedicated Training Manager who facilitates a wide range of courses and events to help you build your research skills as well as skills for life beyond academia.  Examples of recent session include 'Writing to engage', 'Create your own podcast from start to finish' and 'Critical conversations in forensic psychology'.

As a DTP student you will be asked to attend a Training and Engagement Day each term at which you will get to meet other students in your cohort and develop your skills.  As a doctoral student you are also able to engage with training courses across the University.

Further information:

Bridging the Gap from Research to Practice – New online blended learning programme for postgraduates (

Social Sciences Research Methods Programme | SSRMP | (