The GW4 BioMed2 MRC DTP aims to attract the best students for training in high quality projects and environments. The student FAQs contain guidance for students considering submitting an application for a GW4 BioMed2 MRC funded studentship.
Advice on the whole process including eligibility, the selection process and critical dates can be found below:
- How many studentships are available?
- What are the student eligibility criteria?
- How do I submit an application?
- Can applicants apply from disciplines other than biomedical science?
- Can I apply in more than one year?
- Are International students eligible to apply?
- Are EU applicants considered as home or international candidates?
- Do international students have to pay additional fees?
- Will I get support in applying for a visa to study?
- Do international students have to pay any other additional costs?
- What support do you offer students with disabilities?
- What support do you offer students who are part of the LGBTQ+ and/or BAME communities?
- Can I take parental leave?
- What annual leave is available?
- Do I have to live near my host university?
Selection & Offer Process
- What funding is available during the studentship?
- What funding is available for project costs?
- When students undertake research at different GW4 institutions, how will their research be funded?
How many studentships are available?
Up to 22 studentships are available for our October 24/45 cohort. This comprises of:
- 18 (notional) MRC studentships per annum
- The four universities are contributing additional funds to uplift this number, depending on the distribution of successful candidates.
What are the student eligibility criteria?
Students will need to meet the standard academic eligibility criteria. Applicants for a studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a first or upper-second-class UK honours degree, or the equivalent qualification gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of medical sciences. However, the DTP also welcomes students from non-medical backgrounds, especially in areas of computing, mathematics and the physical sciences. Applicants with a lower second class will only be considered if they also have a Master’s degree. Successful applicants will also need to meet the entry requirements of their home institution.
UKRI fully-funded studentships through the GW4 BioMed2 MRC DTP are now available to applicants who would be classed as an international student. Following Brexit, the UKRI now classifies EU students as international unless they have rights under the EU Settlement Scheme. The GW4 partners have agreed to cover the difference in costs between home and international tuition fees. This means that international candidates will not be expected to cover this cost and will be fully funded but need to be aware that they will be required to cover the cost of their student visa, healthcare surcharge and other costs of moving to the UK to do a PhD.
There is a limit to the number of International students that we can accept into our programme (up to 30% cap across our partners per annum).
If English is not your first language you will need to meet the English language requirements of the university that will host your PhD by the start of the programme. Please refer to the website of the university to which you are applying for further information.
How do I submit an application?
Applications must be submitted using the online form. We do not require any additional documents at this stage and ask that you please refrain from sending in any CVs.
Can applicants apply from disciplines other than biomedical science?
Yes. The DTP is particularly interested in recruiting students from non-biomedical, but numerate subjects (e.g. from a computing, mathematics, statistics, chemistry, engineering or quantitative social sciences background).
Can I apply in more than one year?
Yes, you can apply for a studentship in each annual call for applicants.
Are International students eligible to apply?
Yes, international students are welcome to apply for to our DTP. There is a limit to the number of international students we can accept onto our programme (up to 30% cap across our partnership per annum).
Are EU applicants considered as home or international candidates?
Following Brexit, the UKRI now classifies EU students as international unless they have rights under the EU Settlement Scheme.
Do international students have to pay additional fees?
No, if you’re successful in being offered a studentship the GW4 partners have all agreed to cover the difference in cost between home and international tuition fees. This means that international candidates will not be expected to cover this cost and will be fully funded in the same way as home students.
Will I get support in applying for a visa to study?
Yes, if you are successful, your home university will provide you with guidance to enable you to navigate the process of applying for a visa to study in the UK.
Do international students have to pay any other additional costs?
While our studentships are fully funded, international students will need to provide their own source of funding to cover the cost of visa application fees, health surcharges and moving to the UK. The DTP is unable to provide assistance with these costs.
What support do you offer students with disabilities?
All 4 institutes have student support services who can support you and apply for a disability support allowance to fund any adjustments that are required. The DTP also has a Research Culture and Wellbeing Lead who can assist in sign-posting all students to the right support.
If you have specific needs around your engagement in the interview process, please let us know.
What support do you offer students who are part of the LGBTQ+ and/or BAME communities?
All GW4 institutions have support groups, and we are keen to ensure everyone has the opportunity to access the DTP, in particular those from marginalised groups.
Can I take parental leave?
Yes, UKRI funded Students are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave if the expected week of childbirth will occur during the period of their award. The earliest Maternity leave can commence is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth. The first 26 weeks should be paid at full stipend rate, pro-rated as necessary for part time Students. The following 13 weeks should be paid at a level commensurate with statutory maternity pay. The final 13 weeks are not paid. Partners are entitled to up to two weeks paid Ordinary Paternity Leave on full stipend. Ordinary Paternity Leave cannot start before the birth and must end within 56 days of the birth.
Partners are also entitled to an extended period of unpaid parental leave, up to a maximum of 50 weeks, with their studentship extended accordingly. Unpaid parental leave must be completed within 12 months of the birth of the child. This leave may be taken in up to three blocks of leave or all at once. Adoption leave should be granted on the same basis as maternity leave. There is no qualifying period for maternity, paternity or adoption leave. Additionally, their Studentship end date should be updated to reflect the period of leave.
What annual leave is available?
Reasonable holidays, a minimum of 30 days to a maximum of eight weeks per year to include public holidays is recommended and should be allowed for by Supervisors (pro rata for part time students). Please check your home institutions guidance on this. Students undertaking work in collaboration with non-academic partners are expected to consider their obligations to those partners in planning leave.
Do I have to live near my host university?
Yes, unfortunately we are unable to accommodate remote study.
How will students be selected?
All studentships will be awarded competitively. Students can apply for up to two projects in order of preference.
Theme specific panels will consider and score all applications before drawing up a ranked interview shortlist of around 60 applicants. A reserved shortlisting quota of 20% for students from self-declared under-represented groups (including ethnicity, disability, and other protected characteristics) will be used to encourage equality, diversity and inclusion.
Shortlisted applications will also be passed to the lead supervisor of the chosen project(s). Shortlisted students are then required to meet (remotely or in person) with all their potential lead supervisors. The onus for arranging these meetings is placed on the students and expenses will not be available for candidates to attend these discussions.
Candidates that have been informed they have been shortlisted for interview will be required to provide their academic transcripts and two references to the DTP. Preferably, these documents will be sent directly to the DTP from the referee but, in some circumstances, can also be supplied by the student.
Candidates will be interviewed by a centralised DTP theme-based interview panel with representatives from all HEIs. Interviews will be 30 mins in length and will include discussion of a piece of data research that the student was involved with. Your supervisor report, interview feedback, academic transcripts, references and the application form will all contribute to the panel’s considerations for allocating studentships.
Students for whom their first-choice project has already been taken will be offered their second-choice project, if they have selected one.
Who will students be registered with?
Students will register for a PhD with the Higher Education Institute of the lead supervisor. They will be registered with one HEI only but will also be registered as visiting students across the other HEIs to provide them with access to resources, training courses and facilities across the GW4.
What funding is available during the studentship?
The funding elements of the studentship are:
- fees (UK rate)
- UKRI national minimum stipend
- RTSG (Research Training Support Grant) to support training
- a conference/travel allowance
Studentships will be funded for a 4-year duration. As such, awards have been calculated on this basis. Part-time studentships will also be considered and are usually arranged on the basis of working between 50% and 80% of a full-time studentship, over a period of 6 years but can be up to 7 years’ duration.
What funding is available for project costs?
Each studentship will include a Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) as a contribution towards basic consumables to support training to carry out a technique, but not for ongoing costs. The MRC makes a distinction between wet-lab and dry-lab projects and expects wet lab projects to receive a higher amount than dry projects. This could be up to £5,000 per year, depending on the project.
On a project dependent basis a further one off grant of up to £10,000 can be applied for from the flexible funding supplement where there are high cost elements of the project to cover the costs associated with this skill/need, which may include training. High cost elements may also include:
- In-vivo biology
- human brain scans
- high performance computing
- large data set storage
(NB this is for the lifetime of the project and cannot be applied for again). Please note that that the studentship is expected to cover all training costs but NOT ongoing consumable and equipment costs for the project; support is expected to be provided from the project and programme grants held by the supervisory team for these project costs.
The grant from the MRC also includes a Flexible Funding Supplement, which is a small budget that aims to support high costs research and/or training needs, including essential extensions where there are enhanced training needs. To determine the allocation of this funding the Management Board set up a funding panel, comprising of the three Research Theme Leads. Calls for funding will be held twice a year and your application acts as your first call. Supervisors should identify any high-cost training or training-related expenses (including travel) integral to the project in the application form.
When students undertake research at different GW4 institutions, how will their research be funded?
Research at GW4 institutions other than the student’s home institution will be supported through the RTSG and Flexible Funding Supplement, which will be made available to the lead supervisor via the host institution.
What training will the DTP provide?
A core set of basic research skills consistent with those recommended by the MRC and Vitae.co.uk has been agreed by the DTP and incorporated into bespoke elements of the RDF online portal. All students are required to record their projected training plans and progress in completing a Training Needs Analysis, which will be shared with supervisors and the DTP Management.
Online Core Training
An Online Core Training Course has been developed with 30 elements over 3 modules, which covers all aspects of the agreed DTP research skills. As specified in the Supervisor Expectations document, it is a requirement of GW4 BioMed2 MRC DTP that supervisors agree to contribute to student training, including facilitating the online training. Basic core-skills training as defined by the DTP may be provided at institutional level (research ethics and integrity, statistical approaches, presentation skills, etc.), via the DTP Online Core Training Course modules or through a mixture of both, so long as all areas are covered. Students can request exemption from duplicated elements of the online core skills training programme if they can provide evidence of having done them elsewhere.
In addition to Online Core Training, students are required to take advantage of the wide range of advanced training offered across the 4 HEIs of the DTP. The DTP will facilitate access to a range of advanced training across the partnership and will co-ordinate specialist focused training days around the research themes that are aligned to MRC priorities for training. There will also be mandatory induction days, an annual congress and cohort building activities and supervisors are required to release students to attend these events.
Engagement with the DTP training programme is compulsory and continued sponsorship is contingent on that engagement. It is important that Supervisors allow time for all of these commitments when planning a project.
In the first instance please contact the DTP Hub at GW4BioMed@Cardiff.ac.uk