Apply for a SCENARIO Phd

Applications for Autumn 2023 entry (Cohort 10) are now closed. 

The applications process for Autumn 2024 (Cohort 11) entry will open in November 2023.

There are two routes for applicants:

  • Project-led: apply for (up to 4) Scenario projects per applicant. This route is open to all candidates.   More details and the list of available projects can be found here.
  • Scenario Scholarships for Home students from Black, Asian or Minoritized Ethnic Backgrounds: Our aim is to improve ethnic diversity within the Scenario DTP and we are committed to supporting students from Black, Asian, or Minoritized Ethnic (BAME) communities that are currently under-represented.  We will award up to 2 Scholarships this year. You can find out more hereInternational students are not eligible for this pathway.

The information below applies to both routes.

Key dates for Autumn 2023 entry

Application Deadline: Friday 20 January 2023

We aim to let you know whether you will be invited to interview by Wednesday 8 February 2023.

Main interview day:  Wednesday 15 February 2022

Most interviews will take place online.

NERC Universal Acceptance Date: 31 March 2023
This date has been agreed by all NERC DTPs and CDTs. You don’t have to formally accept any studentship offer from a NERC-funded DTP or CDT before this date. This date was originally set to be 15 March.

Get in touch

If you have any questions, please email

Scenario Studentships

Our studentships cover both fees and stipend – a tax-free maintenance grant which was £17,668 per year in 2022-23. You will also receive a Research Training and Support budget to cover costs such as conferences, workshops and equipment.

It is possible to study for a Scenario PhD on a part-time basis.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

We aim to increase the number of applications we receive from under-represented groups. To help reduce unconscious bias, applications will be anonymised before they are reviewed by potential supervisors.  Please read our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion statement for more information before you apply.

Eligibility based on Academic Performance and/or Relevant Previous Experience

1st or upper 2nd class degree is required in a subject appropriate to the PhD projects applied for (see the project description for more info). Candidates with a lower class of Bachelors degree, but a good performance at the Masters level (“merit” or above) will also be considered.

We will also consider candidates with different academic paths but with experience acquired from a research position, or equivalent, that is relevant to the topic of the PhD project.

Many applicants will still be studying for their undergraduate or Masters degree, so it is fine to provide a projected or target grade for your current degree course – offers are then generally made conditional on the class of the degree actually achieved.

Funding Eligibility

Funding for PhD studentships from NERC is only available to successful candidates who meet the eligibility criteria set out in the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) harmonized training grant terms and conditions – see here for more information.

Information about whether you qualify as a Home or International student can be found here.

Scenario funding is not open to students who have already started their PhD research.

International Students

International candidates are eligible to apply for a fully-funded project-led Scenario studentship but please be aware that there is an upper limit, set by UKRI, on the number of international applicants we can fund each year. The competition for these places is very strong, so we advise international candidates to also consider other sources of funding, for example international studentship competitions or funding from your own government. You can find more information from the University of Reading’s Graduate School  and the University of Surrey’s Doctoral College

If you intend to apply for one of the international competitions, please contact the supervisors you are interested in working with first.

Several international students have been successful in the past in securing funding and are currently studying for a PhD at the University of Reading, the University of Surrey or other Scenario partners.

Language Proficiency

Candidates must show the necessary levels of English proficiency described on the University of Reading’s Graduate School webpage.  Enquiries about this should be directed to the Graduate School at the University of Reading.