This brief profile of the London Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) DTP is the first in a series of brief profiles looking at Doctoral Training Programmes which offer funded PhD studentships at Birkbeck. Many thanks to Professor Andy Carter for answering the following questions.
How would you describe the London NERC DTP?
The London NERC DTP is a partnership of nine world-leading research organisations across London. The partnership, which includes Birkbeck, is focused on excellence in environmental science research training and delivery of a transformative inter-disciplinary experience for PhD students.
How would you describe your role within this London NERC DTP?
I am a member of the Management Board of the London NERC DTP and postgraduate tutor for the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Birkbeck.
What are the advantages for Birkbeck PhD students taking part in the London NERC DTP?
Unlike most other DTP’s for the first six months students receive core interdisciplinary training as a cohort covering the full spectrum of environmental science. This engenders a strong sense of community and support. Training is given at each of the partner institutions including the Natural History Museum, Kew, UCL, Kings, Queen Mary and the Institute of Zoology. Part of the training requires the student cohort to organise and lead a field trip to California and an annual conference with the DTP’s at Imperial College and Reading University to showcase student work.
How is the programme structured?
In the Autumn term of year 1 students undertake core multi-disciplinary skills training, then in the Spring term they continue with core training and PhD project development. As part of their training students have taken part in a 10-day California Field Training Course. Within the Summer Term students relocate to the institution where they will be carrying out their PhD research.
Alongside PhD supervision bespoke training courses are provided to develop specific skills. During their second year students are considered for upgrade from MPhil to full PhD status.
Students continue research as well as preparing their thesis for submission and viva in year 4.
What kinds of resources and facilities are available to students who are offered a place on the programme?
Aside from training, each student is allocated a research grant of between £6,000 to £8,000 to cover any expenses associated with their project.
How are PhD students supported during their postgraduate research and in preparing for their careers after the PhD?
Students are able to access a range of training and networking workshops, events and internships: to develop business and entrepreneurial skills, engage with industrial, commercial and policy end-users; and to develop specific skills in collecting, interpreting and commodifying environmental data. These opportunities include “Innovation Week’ a 5-day integrated programme of lectures and workshops at the Siemen’s Crystal building at the Royal Victoria Docks in East London, covering topics at the interface between environmental science, business, and science policy.
What background and experience would successful students be able to demonstrate?/ What do students need to do to apply?
Applicants must meet UK residency criteria and language requirements. Applicants are expected to have a 2:1 or higher in a relevant degree, or equivalent work experience.
How can students find out about potential London NERC DTP projects and supervisors at Birkbeck?
Potential applicants should visit the London NERC DTP website for further information about the programme and about how to apply. Applications for London NERC DTP studentships beginning in Autumn 2018 are expected to open in November 2017 with a deadline for applications expected to be in early January 2018. Potential student projects at Birkbeck will be made available on the Earth and Planetary Sciences website in November 2017 once applications for studentships open.