Applying for a doctoral studentship

Applications for studentships for our 2019/20 intake have now closed. 

The below information refers to the 2019/20 recruitment round. 


Applying for a GW4 Biomed is a two stage process and varies according to which University would be your ‘host institution’ ie where the Lead Supervisor of the projects you apply for is based.

Stage 1 – apply to GW4 Biomed MRC DTP for the studentship itself i.e. for an ‘offer of funding’

Stage 2- apply for a place at the university in which your project(s) lead supervisor is based i.e. for the ‘offer to study’

You  need to complete both an application to the GW4 BioMed MRC DTP for an ‘offer of funding’ and to the host university for an ‘offer to study’. The latter is a formality and your place should be confirmed after your ‘offer of funding’ is received and accepted by you, assuming you meet all eligibility requirements of the host institution.

However, each institution has different procedures on when to apply for the offer to study – Cardiff  require this application at the same time as the initial application to the DTP for the studentship/offer of funding, whilst Bristol, Bath and Exeter need this only if you are successful in gaining an offer of funding – see below for further details.

Please check you meet the eligibility requirements before applying.

Stage 1 Applying for an ‘offer of funding’ (the studentship)

This application comes straight to us via a centralised online application form. For information and the purposes of planning your answers before you go online, you can find a sample PDF copy of the application form here.

You can apply for up to three projects.

The Selection Process

After the closing date your application will be anonymised and reviewed by a panel of four experts within that theme, who also represent each of the four GW4 institutions. A ‘shortlist’ of around 60 candidates will be invited to interview .

Those on the interview shortlist will need to arrange an informal meeting (which can be in person, by telephone or by Skype) with the Lead Supervisor of the projects in which they are interested, by 14th January. Please note that expenses will not be available for candidates to attend these meetings.

Formal interviews, with a panel of four academics, will take place  in Cardiff towards the end of January. Travel expenses will be available and Skype interviews can be arranged if necessary.

The DTP application process aims to select the best applicants and will make an ‘offer of funding’ to the top students after the interview by the panel. Please note that if your first choice project is not available you will be offered your second or third choice project if you selected one. Successful candidates will be notified by the end of January, after which there will be a short period of ‘clearing’.

The host institution (i.e. that of the Lead supervisor of the project to which you were selected) will be responsible for checking your eligibility and making an ‘offer to study’ (see below).

Selection Criteria

Candidates’ application forms are assessed against the criteria below. The final selection will be based on the qualities and performance of the student and will be competitive between all students according to the criteria listed below.

  • Proven academic quality: normally evidenced by an excellent performance to first degree and/or Master’s level but may also be demonstrated by a record of relevant professional practice.
  • Research potential: evidenced through their supporting statement and supported by performance in research projects at first degree and/or Master’s level, or another form of dedicated preparation for research.
  • Personal motivation and commitment: evidenced through their supporting statement, by their enthusiasm for the project area and how they see it relating to their career goals.
  • Non-biomedical disciplines: In line with supporting interdisciplinary and quantitative skills, special consideration will be given by the interview panels to non-biomedical applicants. Such candidates should not feel the selection criteria are biased towards biomedical applicants as their unique skills will be taken into account.

Candidates will be informed they have been shortlisted for interview by 18th December  and will be required to provide their academic transcripts and two references to the DTP by 9.00am 18th January.

The interview

Shortlisted candidates will  be interviewed by a DTP panel of four experts in the theme in which your first choice project sits. Interviews will be 30 minutes in length and include a discussion of a piece of research data you provide that you were involved with. Interview performance is assessed by:

  • Critical thinking (discussion of a student selected piece of data)
  • Fit with project (why did they chose the project and their understanding of the key issues in the project)
  • Personal commitment/motivation

Interviews will take place on 22nd or 23rd January in Cardiff at Friary House, Greyfriars Road, Cardiff CF10 3AE.

Stage 2 Applying for an ‘offer to study’  (the offer of admission to the institution)

If you are applying to Bath, Bristol or Exeter Universities you will only need to apply for an offer to study if you are successful at interview and are made an ‘Offer of Funding’. If you are applying to Cardiff, then you need to submit an application for the ‘offer to study’ at the same time as your application to GW4BioMed DTP for a studentship.

Please note that ‘Offer to Study’ letters come from the universities and NOT the DTP, and are the result of your application to the institution. They are not the same as the email/letter we send out making you the offer of the studentship (or offer of funding). If you have any concerns please contact the PGR administrator in the school or faculty office  in which your lead supervisor is based.

Please see the information below to find out more.

University of Bath

Applicants to projects based at the University of Bath should apply to the DTP in the first instance.  If you are successful in obtaining an offer of funding from the DTP you will need to complete the University of Bath PhD online application form.

You should select the Bath application form specific to the PhD project of your choice (e.g. PhD in Biology, PhD in Biochemistry, PhD in Chemistry, PhD in Pharmacy & Pharmacology or PhD in Psychology), stating in the ‘Finance’ section of the application form that you have been awarded a GW4 BioMed MRC studentship and quoting the project title and supervisor’s name in the ‘Your research interests’ section.

Information on how to apply to Bath may be found here

 Bristol University

Applicants to projects based at Bristol University  should first apply to the DTP, and once they have an offer of funding from the DTP  they should apply to the relevant Faculty and Programme at Bristol, stating in the funding section of the application form that they have been awarded a GW4 BioMed MRC studentship. 

Cardiff University

Applicants for Cardiff University projects should submit an application for postgraduate study via the Cardiff University Online Application Service (sims) at the same time as (or soon after) applying to the DTP. The closing date of 23rd November applies only to the application for the offer of funding – if your application to Cardiff follows a few days thereafter this is no cause for concern.

You should apply to the eligible research programme at Cardiff University for your chosen project, with qualification Doctor of Philosophy and with start date of October 2018.

Details of how to apply for admission to Cardiff University is on the dedicated Cardiff University MRC GW4 BioMed DTP web pages. An application via this process (called SIMS) is in addition to our own application form.

In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select “I will be applying for a scholarship / grant” and specify that you are applying for advertised funding from GW4 BioMed MRC DTP.

If you are applying for more than one Cardiff University project please note this in the research proposal section as the form only allows you to enter one title.

If you have any difficulties with this application please email the School Research Admission Tutors. You can find their contact details on the relevant MRC GW4 BioMed DTP opportunity.

Exeter University

Students should first apply to the DTP, and then if they are successful in gaining a place, they will then apply to study at Exeter. Information on how to apply should be obtained direct from the school office.


This studentship is funded through GW4 BioMed MRC Doctoral Training Partnership. It consists of full UK/EU tuition fees, as well as a Doctoral Stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum (£14,777. for 2018/19, updated each year) for 3.5 years.

Additional funding, known as the Research Training and Support Grant, of between £2,000 to £5,000 per annum (dependent on the research requirements of the project), is available over the course of the programme. This is to cover costs such as  training, conferences and travel, and research consumables. Additional funds are also available for high-cost training/development opportunities and there is a competitive biannual awards process when you can bid for funds in connection with high cost or exceptional training opportunities, such as courses and placements.

A travel grant of £300 per annum is also awarded.

Data Protection

If you are applying for a place on a collaborative programme of doctoral training provided by Cardiff University and other universities, research organisations and/or partners please be aware that your personal data will be used and disclosed for the purposes set out below.

Your personal data will always be processed in accordance with the  General Data Protection Regulations of 2018. Cardiff University (“University”) will remain a data controller for the personal data it holds, and other universities, research organisations and/or partners (“HEIs”) may also become data controllers for the relevant personal data they receive as a result of their participation in the collaborative programme of doctoral training (“Programme”).

Application Process

During the application process, the University may need to share some of your personal data with third parties to be able to administer your application, carry out interviews and select candidates. These are not limited to, but may include disclosures to:

  • the selection panel and/or management board or equivalent of the relevant Programme, which is likely to include staff from one or more other HEIs;
  • administrative staff at one or more other HEIs participating in the relevant Programme.

Such disclosures will always be kept to the minimum amount of personal data required for the specific purpose. Your sensitive personal data may need to be shared in certain circumstances, but only where strictly necessary. By applying for a place you hereby consent to your data being processed and shared in this way.

If you become a student on one of the Programmes

If your application is successful and you register on a Programme, the University may need to make further disclosures of your personal data throughout your time on the programme to ensure the effective management of your studies and comply with its obligations to funders. These disclosures may include, but are not limited to disclosures:

  • within the group of HEIs to the Programme;
  • to other collaborative parties to the relevant Programme, e.g. industrial sponsors and/or collaborators, supervisors from other HEIs, Research Councils (as funders of the Programme);
  • to external examiners.

Other disclosures may be made where it is necessary for the administration of your studies.

Accessing your personal data

If you wish to have access to any of your personal data as held by the University, please contact There may be a fee of £10 associated with such requests.


If you have any queries or concerns about the use of your personal data during the application process or your time as a student, please contact PGR Quality and Operations (Registry) by emailing

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