Established in 2011, the South West Doctoral Training Partnership (formerly known as the SWDTC), comprises the Universities of Bristol, Bath, Exeter, Plymouth and the University of the West of England (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 the 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.

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

Studentships 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 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.

If English is not your first language, you will need to reach the requirements outlined in our profile level A.

Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Fees and funding

UK: full-time
£4,665 per year
UK: part-time
£2,332 per year
Overseas: full-time
£25,300 per year

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to an 8% increase in fees each year.

More about tuition fees, living costs and financial support.

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 2023/24

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 the SWDTP website for information.

Stipend and fee rates are updated and confirmed by UKRI each year.

Funding is available for UK and international students. Please refer to the eligibility criteria on the SWDTP website.

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

Career prospects

Please see individual programme entries for career information.

Research groups

The SWDTP is representative of the institutions' commitment to collaborative working models, and the partnership has developed 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 programme pages for particular programmes for further details of school and departmental research groups.