E3 Doctoral Training Partnership

General information

Funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, the Edinburgh Earth and Environment DTP brings together 28 partners and over 200 supervisors with research expertise spanning the full spectrum of earth and environmental sciences.

Our vision is to attract the best PhD students, to carry out frontier research and address environmental challenges, and to provide a flexible, multidisciplinary training programme that will enable our students to contribute to the next generation of scientific leaders in academia and industry.

The Edinburgh Earth and Environment Doctoral Training Partnership (E3) seeks to attract and enable the brightest PhD students to address environmental challenges, providing flexible training in a multidisciplinary setting. The initiative is being led by Professor Peter Nienow in the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, and brings together 28 partners from research, education, policy and industry sectors to deliver a programme of PhD training and research.

Partnerships with industry

An integral element of the NERC DTP programme is that a minimum of 30% of the students will work with and undertake research projects with a non-academic partner. These CASE studentships will involve a 3 to 18 month placement in a workplace outside the academic environment thereby providing students with access to training, facilities and expertise not available in an academic setting alone.

The research projects of the E3 DTP focus on the following themes: Atmosphere & Climate, Biosphere & Ecology, Earth Surface Processes , Geology & Earth Sciences, Oceans & Paleoclimate.

Training within the E3 DTP
E3 DTP will deliver high-quality training for an integrated cohort of PhD students and will prepare individuals for subsequent post-PhD careers whether in academia or elsewhere. The flexible training scheme has a strong multidisciplinary emphasis, will facilitate scientific and professional growth, and is committed to developing a strong cohort identity. Training will comprise both specialist scientific training and generic transferable and professional skills, thereby supporting personal career development. The ethos of our training programme is to support students in conducting world-class research and to foster excitement and creativity in that research.

The programme is structured in four components based on a postgraduate credit system. Training is focused in Years 1-3 and optional opportunities for professional development available in Year 4. All students will obtain a minimum of 180 E3 DTP ‘training’ credits equating to c.45 days training during their PhD. These credits will be acquired through a mixture of compulsory and optional training activities, the latter selected from a portfolio of opportunities.

Our Strengths

  • An outstanding research environment with world-leading researchers and research facilities
  • A multidisciplinary and collaborative approach
  • The promotion of transferable skills, with access to internships, facilities and training
  • A concentration of resources in the Edinburgh region

These enable us to provide the best opportunities for students to develop scientifically and personally through exposure to different research cultures and training programmes.

Our research themes. We recruit students from a range of backgrounds, to conduct research across all strategic science themes of the Natural Environment Research Council:

  • Biodiversity
  • Climate systems
  • Earth system science
  • Environment, pollution and human health
  • Natural hazards
  • Sustainable use of natural resources
  • Technologies.

Our Contribution. We make science contributions that:

  • Underpin resource security and supply whilst living sustainably within the Earth’s limits
  • Assess and mitigate the risk of environmental hazards
  • Improve predictions of environmental change and response to it.

Our Management

The management team of the E3 DTP comprises the Director (Prof. Pete Nienow), the Deputy Director (Dr. Simon Mudd) and the Manager (Pat Ferguson). The management team is embedded within the School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh.

We recruit 18+ students each year via our annual studentships competition.

Contact Person: Pat Ferguson (Program Manager) (Pat.Ferguson@ed.ac.uk)


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0031 - Project management", "0511 - Biology", "0521 - Ecology", "0532 - Physical and chemical oceanography", "0588 - Scientific modelling


Venue: University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh, United Kingdom


Open from 1 Nov 2016


A minimum of 2:1 undergraduate degree or equivalent. However, we may take relevant work experience and/or a Masters degree into account. If you are unsure whether you might be eligible, please contact pgrsupport@geos.ed.ac.uk

English language requirement: Please note if English is not your first language, we will also need to see evidence of your English language proficiency before we can offer you a place. English language requirements at the University of Edinburgh. 

Application Procedure:

If you wish to be considered for one of the projects available in the E3 DTP, please follow the application procedure outlined below.
Applications for the E3 DTP are now closed for the 2016/2017 intake.
They will open again for the 2017/2018 intake in November 2016.

Entrance requirements. E3 DTP projects are fully funded NERC studentships and are only available to UK citizens and to EU citizens who have worked and/or studied in the UK for the previous three years.

Please apply using the link ‘Apply Here’ next to the project you are interested in. The link will take you to the University’s online application system (EUCLID) at the page: ‘Course and degree finder’. On this page, go to the ‘Apply for this degree’ box on the right hand side and under PhD (Full-time), select September 2014 from the drop-down box before clicking Apply. Your application requires all of the following supporting documents which will need to be uploaded through the EUCLID application system.

  • Curriculum vitae: This should include your academic achievements and appropriate non-academic experience and achievements.
  • Transcripts and certificates of all degrees to date: If you have not yet completed your current degree, you will need to send an official transcript of your results to  date.
  • Academic References: We require a minimum of two signed academic references – these must be submitted with your application.
  • Cover Letter: In this letter (~1 page), you should identify your preferred project, explain why it interests you and how your qualifications and skills make you an excellent candidate for the project.

Please ensure that all of the documents detailed above are submitted as part of your online EUCLID application, to allow your application to be processed without delay. Once all applications have been reviewed, we will invite selected short-listed candidates for interview.  If you have been selected for interview, we will contact you by email with an invitation to interview in the School of GeoSciences in Edinburgh.

All information on how to apply

Grant Opportunities:

The E3 projects are currently available for full NERC studentship funding which is competitive by interview AND AVAILABLE ONLY TO UK citizens and to EU citizens who have worked or studied in the UK for the previous 3 years.   Eligibility for these fully funded NERC-funded awards may be viewed at: RCUK Terms & Conditions.

For all other part funded or fully funded scholarships within Edinburgh University, please refer to the following link for more information: GeoSciences PhD Projects.


Academic level: PhD
Occupations (not validated):
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