The Grand Union DTP usually offers at least 35 studentships each year, across 23 training pathways (or subject areas). In addition to receiving funding for course fees and living costs, DTP students benefit from being able to access a variety of other pots of funding and a wide range of training available at the three partner universities.

The Grand Union DTP also offers various funded collaborative projects for which incoming students may apply. Examples of the projects offered for 2023 entry can be found here.  

Award Structure  

The DTP offers a variety of award structures and lengths, depending on prior training and course arrangements. 

  • From 2024 an ESRC studentship will be 3.5 years as standard which includes time for a compulsory 3-month Research in Practice placement and 3 months for additional specialist training and wider Research in Practice activities. 
  • A Masters qualification is not a prerequisite for studying with the Grand Union DTP, all pathways have options for students without a Masters, with training designed for individuals based on an assessment of their prior learning and training needs.
  • Masters funding will normally only be awarded to students who do not already have a Social Sciences Masters. Where a student already has a Social Sciences Masters degree but lacks some of the core skill required to commence a PhD, they may be allocated funding to enable them to undertake the additional training requirements as well as their PhD, for example: an award for 3.75 or 4 years.

An explanation of award structures is listed below, with full details of the models selected by different disciplines available on the individual Pathway pages. Award length is based on full-time study. All award lengths listed below include time for a compulsory 3-month Research in Practice placement. If a student does not undertake a placement, the award length will be reduced by 3 months.

  • +3.5: three and a half years of funding for a PhD including a placement (assumes that a student has already met the majority of the core training requirements and that the PhD focus is largely on more advanced skills training)
  • 1+3.5: four and a half years of funding for a one-year integrated Master’s programme followed by a PhD. Three and a half years of the PhD including a placement will be funded.
  • 2+2.5: four and a half years of funding for a two-year Master’s programme followed by a PhD. Two and a half years of the PhD including a placement will be funded.
  • +4: four years of funding for a PhD, where the core and advanced training requirements will be met during the course of the programme.

The DTP may also offer awards of 3.75 or 4 years in length where a student will need to undertake some additional training during the PhD to meet the ESRC training requirements. 

Please note that the ESRC does not fund standalone Masters programmes, students must be intending to carry out doctoral research.

ESRC funding is not available for students who have already started their Master's or PhD course and should start at the beginning of your studies. However, if are part way through the Masters, you may apply for ESRC funding for the PhD portion. You will need to complete a Grand Union DTP application alongside your PhD application. 

Value of Studentship 

Students will receive a stipend to support living costs, set at the Research Councils annual rate (£18,622 in 2023-24 for 12 months). They will also have their course fees covered for the period of the award.

Awards do not cover visa, international health surcharges (IHS), nor travel costs for international students.

Part-time Study

ESRC funding covers both full and part-time study, and there is part-time provision available on all Grand Union DTP pathways. To discuss part-time study options, please contact either the admissions office for your chosen pathway, or the relevant DTP Manager for your institution (details on our contacts page).

Funding is adjusted on a pro-rata basis for part-time students. Part-time study must be for a minimum of 0.5 FTE. 

Part-time ESRC studentships are generally only available to students who do not need a visa to study in the UK. This is because all ESRC-funded students must be resident in the UK for the duration of their award, and most part-time programmes are not eligible for visa sponsorship. 

Steered Awards

In additional to core awards, the Grand Union DTP will offer a small number of ring-fenced awards which specifically focus on (a) advanced quantitative methods, (b) data skills or (c) interdisciplinary research. These are particular areas of focus for the ESRC.

If you wish to be considered for one or more of these awards, please read the details below and complete the relevant section(s) on the GUDTP application form. Make sure that you have also discussed the relevance of your application for a steered award with your proposed supervisor(s) and/or pathway lead.

You may already have some prior experience or training in these skills/areas. However, if you do not, you will be supported to develop these skills during your PhD.

A) Advanced Quantitative Methods (AQM)

The AQM awards are available across all pathways, and the expectation is that the research design and analysis will deploy advanced quantitative methods that extend beyond the standard expectations in your field.

Aspects of proposed AQM may include the following, depending upon the subject area and proposed research:

  • Advanced methods of data collection and data analysis techniques
  • Use of large and complex data sets (admin data, digital data, census data)
  • Specific experimental, quasi-experimental or evaluation methods
  • Advanced use of data and programming skills (including AI and e-Research tools)

Applicants will be asked to consider how their research will use quantitative approaches, statistical skills, or methods that are regarded as advanced, as well as the advanced methods training that would be undertaken at a level over and above the usual subject-specific methods requirements.

B) Data Skills

Data skills awards are available across all pathways and will be offered to students using large and complex data in their research. This includes survey data and ‘big data’ (social media, administrative, transactional and geospatial data), unstructured commercial data (such as loyalty card databases), as well as data created through digital interactions between people, places and organisations, using either qualitative or quantitative approaches.

Examples of proposed data skills that you will use during your PhD may include the following, depending upon the subject area and proposed research:

  • Quantitative and qualitative data analytics skills
  • Data engineering from a range of sources
  • Checking and monitoring data integrity
  • Curating data and writing efficient statistical programme code

Applicants will be asked to consider how large and complex data is a substantive focus of their research, including any details of datasets that they plan to use.

C) Interdisciplinary Research

Interdisciplinary research awards are available across all pathways and will be offered to students whose research is explicitly interdisciplinary in nature and straddles the social sciences and other research council remits. The proposed research should include substantive interaction between the relevant scientific areas; it should be at least 50% social science but no more than two thirds.

Examples of Pathways’ previous interdisciplinary research are:

  • Development, Policy and Practice: international development and science, technology and research (EPSRC)
  • Economics and philosophy (AHRC)
  • Geography and the natural sciences (NERC, EPSRC) and the humanities (AHRC)
  • Psychology and clinical neuroscience, psychiatry, pharmacology, population health, computer science and engineering science (BBSRC, MRC)
  • Social Policy and Intervention with clinical psychology, epidemiology and public health (MRC)

Applicants will be asked to consider how their research reaches beyond the social sciences.