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ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Social Sciences

Students graduating

** Applications for October 2022 entry will open soon**

Cambridge ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership

We are very pleased that you are interested in applying for a Cambridge ESRC DTP Studentship for a Master’s course followed by a PhD programme, or direct entry to a PhD programme.

The Cambridge DTP is offering at least 33 studentships available for admission in October 2022 , studying full-time or part-time, 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.

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

If you have, or expect to achieve a 2:1 or higher in your undergraduate degree course, a Master’s course at Cambridge could be the ideal next step for you. 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. That is, funding for a one year Master’s degree followed by three year’s funding for the PhD.

Engagement with the DTP in years 2, 3 and 4 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, e.g. a 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). This is something that we consider as part of the process of allocating studentships. On occasion, even if students already have a Master’s degree or have completed some social science training, we encourage a Master’s programme first so as to consolidate foundational learning before moving on to the doctorate (that is, 1+3 years), or we facilitate some catch-up training during the PhD by offering a period over the three years.

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

Choosing a project

DTP students normally think of research questions and projects themselves and then have a preliminary discussion with potential supervisors in their chosen department. The research questions and projects have to be aligned with one or more of the DTP clusters mentioned above. The clusters are very broadly framed but you can always discuss alignment with one or more clusters with your potential supervisors. 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.

We are particularly keen to attract students who have inter- and cross-disciplinary interests and interest in doing research with industry or third sector partners. Students can study on a part-time or full-time basis.

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 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 will acquire a unique set of skills that will equip them for high-profile careers as leading social scientists in government, industrial, commercial and third sector organisations either in the UK or elsewhere as well as in academia.

Part-time PhDs

If you are accepted onto a part-time PhD, you will have a College place like every other student, and will be expected to spend as much time in the University as possible. For study purposes you will be expected to spend 60% of a normal week in study, over a five-year period, towards a PhD.

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.

What funding will I receive?

DTP studentships are awarded on a competitive basis, following a nomination process via departments. A DTP studentship will cover fees at the Home rate and provide £15,285 p.a. in living costs (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.

Am I eligible?

Cambridge ESRC DTP studentships are open to all students who meet the required academic conditions and have an interest in collaborative social science.

Whether or not you are nominated for a Cambridge ESRC DTP studentship, you may be eligible for other funding offered by the University of Cambridge. You can find out more at

What is the application process?

All DTP applicants follow the University’s standard admission process. There is no direct application to the DTP.

You can apply for admission and funding opportunities (including Cambridge ESRC DTP Studentships) via the Postgraduate Admissions Portal. When making your application please ensure you indicate that you wish to be considered for funding.

Your application will be considered by your chosen Department, who will then decide whether to nominate you for a Cambridge ESRC DTP studentship.

What to do next?

If you are interested in applying either for a Master’s or PhD place at Cambridge in the ESRC DTP, please visit the Postgraduate Admissions Funding page to find out more (including application deadlines).