E4 Doctoral Training Partnership

Selection Process

Find out about the E4 selection process, its recruitment timing and past applications numbers.

The E4 Selection Process

The E4 selection process comprises different stages which are illustrated in the flowchart below.

1. Application Stage

All applications are submitted to the E4 management team. Applications are screened for eligibility criteria and completeness. Information relating to equality and diversity monitoring as well as widening participation consideration are separated and removed before applications are forwarded for assessment.

2. Supervisor Selection

Supervisors review all applications and can select up to 2 candidates (or 3 if a project applied for is CASE funded) from their pool of applicants. The widening participation panel may propose that a supervisor can put forward a 3rd or 4th candidate for consideration where relevant.

3. Shortlisting Panels

After the supervisors have nominated their preferred candidates, the shortlisting panels review and score all the nominated applications against the following criteria: academic ability, scientific skills, wider skills activities, scientific statement and references. The widening participation panel has overview of this process and can make additional recommendations.

4. Interviews

The top ~60 applicants are then invited for an interview which focusses on past research, future research and a wider discussion of science, its purpose and how best to do it. The interview is scored completely separately from the written application. 

5. Studentships Offers

The top ~20 applicants are offered a place based on their combined score.

We value applications from students from a wide range of background and aim to give equality of opportunity to all our applicants by supporting  applicants who declare that they are  part of one of our under-represented groups (see our Widening Participation Form  as part of our application process). We also value professional experience and do not set a Master’s degree as a condition to apply (although we will take all degrees into consideration).

E4 DTP Selection Process Flowchart
E4 DTP Selection Process Flowchart

Indicative Recruitment timeline

Student-led Projects Submission Deadline


Application Deadline

Early January

Outcome sent via email by



Late February

First Offers sent by

Early March

Universal NERC DTP acceptance of offers date (before which candidates are not obliged to accept any NERC-funded PhD offer)

3rd Wed of March

Applications numbers in previous years

Recruitment round / Selection stage All Applicants Nominated by supervisors Interviewed Appointed
2019/20 263 141 74 25
2018/19 202 106 68 24
2017/18 256 104 52 25

Application Process

Entry and Eligibility Criteria

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion