Natural Environment Research Council studentship funding

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) aims to gather and apply knowledge, improve understanding and predict the behaviour of the natural environment and its resources. It was established in 1965.

NERC funds and manages research and training in earth system science, advancing knowledge of planet Earth as a complex, interacting system. Its work covers the full range of atmospheric, earth, terrestrial and aquatic sciences, from the depth of the oceans to the upper atmosphere. Because the environment is global, they work with scientists and other partners around the world.

NERC uses a budget of about £220 million a year to fund scientific research in universities and at its own sites. About 2,700 people are employed in NERC research centres and a further 1,800 are funded annually through a variety of research and training awards in university departments and other bodies.


The University of St Andrews is a partner in IAPETUS Doctorial Training Partnership - a partnership that joins the leading research universities of Durham, Glasgow, Newcastle, St Andrews and Stirling, together with the British Geological Survey and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, in a united approach to doctoral research and training the next generation of leaders in the science of the natural environment.

IAPETUS is a multidisciplinary Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP), funded and accredited by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), offering PhD students a world-class environment in which to study.

IAPETUS’ training and research is focused around a number of interdisciplinary clusters of internationally-recognised excellence, which spans the environmental and Earth sciences:

  • Global environmental change
  • Geodynamics and Earth resources
  • Carbon and nutrient cycling
  • Hazards, risks and resilience
  • Biodiversity and ecosystem resources.

Collaboration and knowledge exchange with industry, policy-makers and other non-academic organisations is at the heart of our activities. Over 30% of our studentships are CASE awards and we already have over 35 external partners supporting IAPETUS’s research.

Studentships are for between three and four years, depending on the doctoral research project and provides either full RCUK stipend and fee's or fee's only. Please see IAPETUS website for more information and eligibility criteria.

How to apply

The scholarships and funding searchable catalogue is now available, where you can search and apply for different types of funding. All applicants will receive an email with information on how to access the scholarships and funding portal after their fee status has been determined. All current students can access the Scholarships and Funding portal via their iSaint account.

Following an internal selection process the top candidates will be asked to submit their application to IAPETUS (online via the website) where a cross university governance committee will make the final selection based on merit. Students must have applicant status with the University at this stage and meet the eligibility criteria.

NERC funded students at the University of St Andrews

All funding and reporting is via the University, students will be requested to provide project details for the NERC annual submission via the student research data portal in October of the first year. Additional information may be requested at any time and any changes in status or the project should be forwarded to the DTG Coordinator.

Any issues with fees or funding should be reported to in the first instance.

Current award holder should refer to the NERC Postgraduate Training information for full details on RTSG claims, fieldwork expenses, maternity cover and any other LOA’s or extensions likely to affect funding or submission dates. Requests for these should be emailed to Registry and the financial advice and support adviser on

If a student is prevented from working by illness for a continuous period of more than two weeks they must inform Registry immediately and send a medical certificate confirming the period unfit to work (regardless as to whether or not the student is suspending studies).

ROs cannot approve extensions to submission dates that are not associated with changes to the funding end date. All requests for submission date extensions not associated with changes to the funding end date must be referred to NERC via the financial advice and support adviser (

Current students can contact the School Postgraduate Secretary, Registry or Finance Advice & Support for any additional information regarding NERC or University terms and conditions.