Frequently Asked Questions

The Doctoral Training Alliance, or DTA, has been developed by a group of Alliance universities, in response to industry needs, which aims to produce independent, highly-employable researchers with knowledge, expertise and skills in strategically-important research areas. We provide doctoral training to develop skills and expertise across three programme strands, Applied Bioscience for Heath, Energy and Social Policy.

The MSCA Research Fellow Programme provide grants for doctoral researchers and encourage transnational, intersectoral and interdisciplinary mobility. You can read more on the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions website.

The DTA3/COFUND Marie Skłodowska-Curie PhD Fellowship is funded via the European Commission H2020 COFUND Programme and so the Terms and Conditions are reflective of the European Commission’s requirements. The Programme requires you to relocate to the country of the host institution and to undertake a full-time PhD programme of study. Each PhD will last 3 years. You must be considered an eligible candidate (see full criteria) and be suitably qualified to undertake PhD level study. In addition to successfully undertaking your PhD project, you will be expected to engage in all training activities provided through the DTA3 / COFUND Programme. Where appropriate (and where the subject matter allows), you will be required to undertake an industrial placement and also an international placement which are aimed at maximising your acquisition of new and relevant knowledge and expertise.

As a DTA3 / COFUND Marie Skłodowska Curie PhD Fellow you will be employed by the host institution and paid a minimum annual salary of £20,989 with your host institute also paying National Insurance and pension contributions. The exact salary, holiday entitlements and any other terms and conditions will be advised by individual partner universities. To note, employment contracts will outline the final amount to be paid over the 36 months equivalent to a € amount (as demanded by the European Commission H2020 COFUND Programme) according to currency exchange rates. As an employee of the host institution DTA3 COFUND Marie Skłodowska Curie PhD Fellows will be expected to abide by the Terms and Conditions of the respective university.

See full details of the job description and person specification.

As well as benefiting from the world-class facilities, supervisors and support at their chosen institution, researchers on a DTA programme will be joining a much broader professional community – where they can enjoy the collaborative power, expertise and reach of the Doctoral Training Alliance.

By combining vital research skills such as critical reasoning and epistemology with practical innovation and entrepreneurial expertise, the programmes will produce postgraduate researchers who are job-ready and can apply the results of their excellent research to deliver real world impact.

Researchers on a DTA programme will be encouraged to collaborate on their work with colleagues in the cohort; attend annual induction, summer school and networking events; co-delivered training and development courses; as well as employer and industry events relevant to their chosen field.

To apply for a DTA3/COFUND Marie Skłodowska-Curie PhD Fellowship you will need to be an eligibility candidate (please read through the eligibility criteria found on our Eligibility page) and apply through our website by clicking on the How to apply? page. Please note, we do not accept any other forms of application, the only way to apply is through this website and not through individual universities.

You may apply for a maximum of 3 project opportunities per call. The deadline for applications for the first round of fellowships is 8th October 2018 (closing 23:59 BST) with successful applicants starting April 2019. The second call will start September 2019 (closing date for applications to be advised nearer the time). Please note the projects will vary in each call.

The selection process will be a thorough one. After you submit your application it will be assessed by the DTA3 / COFUND central panel to ensure you are eligible. Then it will be examined by the prospective host university alongside all other project applications received, to assess your qualifications and suitability to undertake the specialist research proposed in the project advert. A shortlist of suitable candidates will be drawn up and sent back to the central DTA3 / COFUND panel for verification. Suitable candidates will be invited for interview at the host institution, face-to-face where possible. Applicants who have not been invited to interview will be notified. Candidates are responsible for their own interview travel arrangements with some travel costs eligible for reimbursement. We are currently working towards notifying interviewees the week commencing 12th November, with interviews starting week commencing 26th November. Successful candidates will be notified week commencing 17th December.

The interview panel will be made up of relevant host university staff, a representative from the DTA3 / COFUND Programme and independent panel members. The outcome of the interview will determine who the best candidate is and, subject to final ratification by the central DTA3 / COFUND panel, the DTA3 / COFUND Marie Skłodowska Curie PhD Fellowship will be offered to that person. The offer would then need to be formally accepted. Applicants who have not been successful at interview will be notified. Selection decisions are final and confidential and no appeals will be considered.

University Alliance is unable to enter into any communication on the selection decision.

Universities will be able to provide feedback to applicants who were not successful at interview.

The proposed start date for the first call is 1st April 2019. This timescale will allow for the recruitment process described above to take place and any visa applications (if applicable) to be made. The start date for the second call is September 2019.

We do not anticipate Brexit having any affect on our funding or our candidates ability to study the DTA3/COFUND Marie Skłodowska-Curie PhD Fellowship. Current guidance is that those starting in 2019 academic years will be unaffected.

All eligible candidates will be classed as early-stage researchers (ESR), please see the European Commission’s guidance for a definition of an ESR. An ESR will be within their first four years of their research careers, this does not include time spent studying as an undergraduate or Masters study, also we will not included time spent completing non-research related work as part of the four years.

No, this programme is not open to those who already hold a doctoral degree.

See the individual project proforma that you are apply for (all proformas are listed on the Programme and Projects page) for specific IELTS scoring. If none are listed then please see the host institution’s website for further information relating to their minimum IELTS scoring to undertake doctoral study.

We understand that applicants may not have sat an IELTS test at the point of application and will not disqualify candidates from the application process who are unable to provide a score at this point.

Visa fees will need to be paid by the applicant themselves in the first instance but are reclaimable from the DTA3 / COFUND central budget on presentation of evidence of expenditure.

IELTS examination costs are not typically eligible* to be claimed from the DTA3 / COFUND central budget and will need to be paid for by the applicant themselves. For further details about IELTS see

The Immigration healthcare surcharge is not typically eligible* to be claimed from DTA3 / COFUND funds. It will need to be paid for by the applicant and can range from £150 – £200 per year depending on the type of visa being applied for. Any dependants travelling with the applicant will also need to pay the surcharge if applicable.

*Individual partner universities will advise as to whether these costs can be borne by the host institution.

This is the first DTA3 / COFUND Marie Skłodowska-Curie PhD fellowship recruitment round. The second round is expected in early 2019 (date to be advised). Applications made in the second round will have an expected start date of September 2019. It should be noted that specific project opportunities and research topics are likely to be very different in the second round and therefore there is no guarantee that a suitable topic will be available for you should you decide to postpone your application.

The costs of relocating to the UK are not typically eligible* to be claimed from DTA3 / COFUND and must be borne by the applicant themselves.

*Individual partner universities will advise as to whether these costs can be borne by the host institution.

Partners/dependants/spouses can relocate along with the Researcher but are subject to UK Immigration regulations and therefore any visas (if required) must be obtained in the usual way and this is the responsibility of the applicant and their family. The DTA3 / COFUND scheme does not typically* provide any financial subsidy for family/dependants.

*Individual partner universities will advise as to whether these costs can be borne by the host institution.

You should apply for a visa through the official UK visa application route and you should allow sufficient time for the process. The process may differ depending on your country of residence. As a starting point you should visit which will provide specific information on how to apply from different countries. As previously stated the cost of the visa application must be paid for by the applicant initially but can be reclaimed from DTA3 / COFUND on presentation of evidence of expenditure.

Successful candidates will be offered a contract of employment that will be conditional upon satisfactory references, the fulfilment of any conditions specified in the offer of a place on a PhD programme, and confirmation of the candidate’s right to work in the UK or ability to secure a valid visa, if required, from UK Visas and Immigration. As an employee, a student visa (Tier 4) would not be counted as a valid visa.

Industrial placements (where appropriate) will be undertaken to promote the exchange of knowledge and expertise between academia and industry/workplace. This will benefit the applicant by providing an insight into how their research can/will be applied within an industrial/workplace real life setting. It will serve to guide the direction of the research to ensure it is industry relevant and provides actual solutions to future challenges. Costs in relation to industrial placements e.g. travel and subsistence will be paid for by DTA3.

International placements can be undertaken with specific Universities or organisations overseas in order to provide a global perspective to the research being undertaken and to develop and foster future research collaborations. The Researcher will benefit from these international experiences and the exchange of knowledge and expertise. They will provide a platform upon which to base future international research collaborations. Costs in relation to international placements e.g. travel and subsistence will be paid for by DTA3.

How to apply

Programmes and Projects