Applications for 2021/22 entry are now closed.

There are several sources of funding available for PhDs in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and the School of Management, including the ESRC South West Doctoral Training Partnership (SWDTP) studentships, and internal University studentships (URSA).

Find out more about how to apply for other available Research Council funding schemes.

You may wish to browse this list of PhD research opportunities for Humanities and Social Sciences that academic staff have suggested. If you find a project that interests you, please get in touch with the associated staff member (your potential supervisor), as having a discussion with them before you apply should strengthen your application.

Funding may also be available for excellent candidates who propose a project of their own, following discussion with a potential supervisor.

To apply for URSA or ESRC SWDTP funding, indicate on your application that you wish to be considered for funding, and we will steer your application to the most appropriate funding competition.

ESRC SWDTP funding is now available to all students (Home and International*). URSA funding is available to Home students only.

* For entry in 2021/22, studentships will be open to both Home and International candidates; however, in line with guidance from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the number of International students we can accept onto the programme will be limited to 30% of the available places.

Please follow the steps below.

  • Contact a potential supervisor or lead academic for a project idea, to discuss the opportunity and they will advise if you can apply. Please note that it will not be possible to put applications forward for funding where a supervisor has not been identified and contacted.

  • Ensure you meet the entry requirements for a PhD in the relevant department or interdisciplinary stream.

  • Complete the online application form for the relevant department or interdisciplinary stream. You must include all the necessary supporting information as listed on how to apply for doctoral study.

  • ALL applicants applying for SWDTP or URSA funding MUST:

    • complete the Student Statement Form and submit this as part of their online application to study. Either cut and paste your research proposal into the Student Statement Form OR adapt it to the specific criteria on the form.
    • ensure that their proposed supervisor completes and submits the Supervisor Supporting Statement.
  • Due to the quantity of applications likely to be received:

    • only complete applications will be considered – all incomplete applications will be automatically rejected.
    • applications should wherever possible be submitted by 12:00 noon GMT on 12 January 2021 – it may not be possible to consider all applications submitted after this date (but before the final deadline of 12:00 noon GMT 19 January 2021) due to unprecedented demand and limited administrative capacity.
  • If you would like to, complete the SWDTP Equal Opportunities Student Data Form. Information will be held confidentially and reported anonymously to the ESRC. Completed forms should be emailed to

You will be notified if you have been shortlisted for interview by mid February 2021. Interviews will be held via Skype or Zoom in early March. If successful, you will be notified by mid April 2021. Successful applicants will be expected to commence their studies on 04 October 2021.