South West Doctoral Training Partnership (ESRC)

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Run by Faculty of Social Sciences and Law Faculty of Social Sciences and Law
Awards available PhD, MRes, MSc
Programme length Three to four years full-time; seven years part-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Daytime attendance will be required for part-time study.
Start date September 2022

Programme overview

Established in 2011, the South West Doctoral Training Partnership (formerly known as the SWDTC), now comprises the Universities of Bristol, Bath, Exeter, Plymouth and UWE. As recognised research leaders, all institutions are committed to providing excellent training, development and teaching for the postgraduate community across disciplinary and interdisciplinary research fields.

The SWDTP is a strategic partnership accredited by the Economic and Social Sciences Research Council. As well as developing tailored training programmes for our students and staff, the partnership also supports a wide variety of collaborative activities, including events and student placements in public, private and civic society organisations.

The partnership is made up of a number of disciplinary and interdisciplinary pathways. For details of the pathways available at Bristol, please see the Apply to the SWDTP section of our website. The pathway you are interested in will determine which programme you will need to apply to through our online application system. Each programme has its own entry in the programme finder where you will find further details of research activities and potential supervisors.

The SWDTP offers funding for 1+3 or +3 awards in a range of disciplines and interdisciplinary themes. Students will normally be registered in the school of their first supervisor. This may not be the school that processes your application.

Fees for 2022/23

Please see individual programme entries for fees information.

Following the recent changes to fee assessment regulation, Channel Islands and Isle of Man students will no longer be charged a separate tuition fee. From the 2021/22 academic year they will be charged the same fees as Home students.

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to a five per cent increase in fees each year. Find out more about tuition fees.

Alumni discount

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a 25% reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni discount.

Funding for 2022/23

Students wishing to apply for ESRC funding can apply for either an MSc/MRes followed by PhD programme (1+3 award) or PhD only (+3 award). Students wishing to undertake PhD study only (+3 awards) must meet the ESRC criteria in terms of previous master's-level study and should refer to for information.

For studentship holders in 2019-20, the standard maintenance award was £15,009 per annum. The ESRC also covered fees to the value of £4,327 per annum. Stipend and fee rates are confirmed by RCUK each year.

Funding is normally restricted to UK residents. EU students may be eligible for fees-only funding. For the Advanced Quantitative Methods and Economics pathways, one international applicant per pathway may be fully funded. Please see the ESRC eligibility guidance for further details.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Programme structure

As well as comprehensive research training, all students are encouraged to apply for a work placement during their time of study with us. Placements provide the opportunity for students to develop their research and transferable skills further in a non-academic environment. For more information on placements, please visit the partnership's collaboration pages. Please see individual programme entries for programme structures.

Entry requirements

Scholarships are available as either a 1+3 award, which is a one-year MSc/MRes plus three years funding for a PhD, or as a +3 award, which covers three years funding for a PhD only.

Applicants for a +3 award should have completed, or be due to complete, an ESRC-accredited or an equivalent research master's with a significant element of research training. The research training should include significant social sciences research design, and quantitative and qualitative research methods elements. The transcript will need to show that a minimum of a third of the taught stage of your programme entailed research methods elements. Applicants should have achieved an average grade of their master's (at the point of application) of at least merit (60%). Successful applicants must ultimately achieve both an overall average of at least 60% across the taught units/modules and at least 60% for the dissertation component as a condition of their funding. Applicants may be asked for further information to determine the relevance of the content covered.

For students who have undertaken a master's outside the UK, we will look for appropriate equivalencies.

Please see individual programme entries for details of other entry requirements.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you need to meet this profile level:

See individual programme entries for details of language requirements.

Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Admissions statement

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Admissions statement

Research groups

The SWDTP is representative of the institutions' commitment to collaborative working models, and the centre will be developing its own collaborative working practice with external partners as a core part of our strategy.

Collaboration from the research perspective can mean working with a wide variety of organisations and individuals from the private, public and civic sectors. Forms of collaboration may vary from an entirely co-organised and co-produced project to a workshop, the design of a specific data-gathering exercise, participation in a policy review, a conference or an internship.

Through collaboration, we are committed to building opportunities for knowledge transfer and sharing of best practice, as well as developing critical mass in key research areas.

Please see the prospectus entries for particular programmes for further details of school and departmental research groups.


Please see individual programme entries for careers information.

Staff profiles

For information about potential PhD supervisors in Bristol, please see individual programme (pathway) entries.

Professor Sally Barnes, (Graduate Education Director and Director of the SWDTP)

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Find out how to apply

Application deadline

The closing date for ESRC studentship applications is 12 noon on Friday 14 January 2022. For further details on applying for ESRC funding, please visit the SWDTP website.

Open days and visits

Watch on-demand recordings from November's virtual open week.

Get in touch

See individual programme entries for contact details Email:

School website:

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, applying for a visa and the support we offer to international students.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

REF 2021 results

The University of Bristol is ranked fifth for research in the UK (Times Higher Education), with 94% of our research assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent.

Full REF 2021 results for the University of Bristol.


Important disclaimer information about our programmes.

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