How to Apply


*Interested in studying for a PhD across the social sciences? The DTP Directors hosted a webinar offering application advice and Q&A on MS Teams on 12th December 2023, 14:00-15:00. You can download the slides from the webinar here.*


The Grand Union DTP usually awards approximately 35 studentships each year, which are available across all pathways.

Studentships are awarded through an open competition. Pathways assess all applications and nominate their strongest candidates for consideration by a panel looking across the DTP. Of the studentships offered, at least 9 will be Advanced Quantitative Methods (AQM), Data Skills, and Interdisciplinary Research studentships.

If you are interested in applying for an ESRC studentship at the Grand Union DTP for entry in 2024, these are the steps you need to take:

Grand Union studentships are linked to training pathways, so you should first review the Pathway pages to see which is most relevant for your proposed research project. The DTP offers different training routes or structures depending on your previous experience. If you are unsure which is the most appropriate pathway or training route, please contact the relevant Pathway Lead or your potential supervisor for advice. 

The names and contact details of the pathway leads are available on the Pathway pages.

Submit an application to the university which hosts the programme you wish to follow. In the case of a route though a pathway which involves an MSc at Oxford followed by a PhD elsewhere, your University application should be submitted to Oxford, however you should first contact the relevant pathway lead to discuss your application.

Please note that the application deadlines for programmes may differ both across institutions and within them. In addition to the general application deadline information below, please ensure that you refer to the individual programme pages and university application information pages for further information on the applicable deadlines.

Brunel University: For further information and how to apply please see Funded Research Degree Opportunities and Research Degrees - Grand Union DTP. The application deadline is 12th January 2024. Please contact with any queries.

The Open University: See Research degrees - how to apply. The application deadline is noon 11th January 2024; please contact with any queries.

Oxford University: See the graduate admissions guide Applying to Oxford for full details. To be considered for a Grand Union studentship at Oxford you will need to do the following:

  • Apply by the relevant funding deadline for your course. Please ensure you confirm the correct deadline on the University admissions pages, as late applications will not be accepted.
  • Select 'ESRC Grand Union DTP Studentships in Social Sciences' in the University of Oxford scholarships section of the University's graduate application form. 
  • Upload a completed Grand Union Application Form with your University application. *You can download the Grand Union DTP Application Form here.
  • Applicants wishing to be considered for the Migration pathway must also indicate their interest by contacting the relevant office. Details are available on the Migration Studies pathway pages. 

In order to be considered for a studentship you must complete a Grand Union DTP Application Form (you can download the Grand Union DTP Application Form here). If you are applying to Oxford or The Open University you must submit the form along with your University application materials before the relevant application deadline. For Brunel University, the DTP Manager will be able to advise on the application process. 

The information provided will help to inform decisions on nomination to the DTP competition, as well as eligibility and type of award. For candidates nominated to the DTP competition, sections 3-5 will form part of the materials considered by the Grand Union DTP Studentships Panel when assessing applications. Section 7 will also be reviewed for candidates nominated for an AQM, Data Skills, or Interdisciplinary Research award. 

Each pathway will select a number of applications to nominate for ESRC funding, and will complete a nomination form to support their selection. These are then reviewed by the Grand Union DTP Studentships Panel, who will consider the information provided on the pathway nomination form, Grand Union DTP Application Form, and University application materials. This is an open competition across our partnership.

The Panel will consider 4 key categories of equal weighting, and will take into account the stage of the candidate (eg. whether they have already completed a Masters programme):

1. Academic and professional experience

2. Aptitude and potential

3. Doctoral research proposal

4. Planning for knowledge exchange and impact

Steered Awards

The relevant pathway will decide if they wish to nominate a candidate for an AQM, Data Skills, or Interdisciplinary Research award. Along with the above, they will provide details on the proposed methodology, AQM research experience, and training previously undertaken and planned for the project. Along with the above, they will need to provide details on:

  • (for AQM/Data Skills) the proposed methodology, AQM/Data Skills research experience, and training previously undertaken and planned for the project. 
  • (for Interdisciplinary Research) how the proposed research engages with other research council remit, and any interdisciplinary experience or training previously undertaken and planned for the project.

This will be reviewed by the Panel and the allocated amount of Steered Awards will be offered.  

Grand Union DTP Studentships Panel

Nominations are assessed by a panel composed of academic members of staff drawn from the three institutions within the partnership, irrespective of which institution an application for study has been made to. Panel members do not review applications submitted from their own pathway or subject area. For further information on how your data is used by the partnership, please see the data protection notice page.

Decisions are expected to made in late March and the majority of successful candidates will be informed in April. Some further awards may be offered in May and June from a reserve list if other candidates withdraw.

In late Spring/Summer successful candidates will be contacted to complete their Development Needs Analysis (DNA) ahead of their award starting. This may inform award length and additional training required to meet ESRC standards.

Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications it is not possible to provide feedback on an individual basis. Also, the DTP will not contact candidates who have been unsuccessful, either because they were not nominated to the DTP competition or for those who weren't successful after nomination. Please contact your pathway if you have queries about the status of your application.