Doctoral Studentships

This scheme enables researchers to undertake humanities or social science doctoral degrees in any area of health.

Scheme at a glance

Career stage:

Postgraduate training

Where your host organisation is based:

UK, Republic of Ireland, Low- or middle-income countries

Level of funding:

Stipend, research expenses and tuition fees

Duration of funding:

Usually 3 years

Who can apply

You can apply for a Doctoral Studentship if you want to complete a period of research leading to a PhD in any humanities or social science area.

You must have been accepted onto a PhD programme with an eligible host organisation in the UK, Republic of Ireland or a low- or middle-income country.

You can be of any nationality. You should usually hold, or expect to hold, a relevant Master's degree or have equivalent experience.

Who can't apply

You can't apply if:

  • you've received support for your doctoral studies from another funding body 
  • you’ve already started your doctoral studies.

If you've previously been unsuccessful with a full application for this scheme, please contact us before you apply again.

What we're looking for

We will assess:

  • the significance and originality of your proposed research
  • the suitability and relevance of your approach to your research topic
  • the suitability of the host organisation and department for your research and for developing your career
  • your track record, eg assessed work during your Master’s course.

We encourage you to check that your application is competitive by discussing your project with:

  • your intended supervisor(s)
  • researchers in relevant health-related fields
  • the research office at your host organisation.

Your supervisor and other researchers

Your supervisor and other researchers will give you advice about the intellectual quality and importance of your project. They will also help you to decide whether it’s the right time for you to apply.

Research office

The research office at your host organisation should be able to advise you on:

  • how to structure your application, including the budget 
  • what information is needed to support your proposal 
  • how much time the authorised organisational approver needs to approve your application after you submit it. 

Contact the research office as early as possible in the application process.

What's expected of your host organisation

You must have an eligible host organisation that will administer your fellowship for the full duration of the award.

You should give careful thought to your choice of supervisor(s); they should have strong track records in research, training and mentorship.

If you have a multi-site or multi-method project, you may need more than one supervisor. You should make it clear on your application form how you will all work together. Your sponsor can also be your supervisor.

Sponsor

Your sponsor should be in a position to guarantee you space and facilities for the full period of your PhD. Sponsors are usually the head of department or head of school/faculty. The sponsor must:

  • be based at an eligible sponsoring organisation that will administer your fellowship for the full duration of the award
  • hold an established post.

Supervisor

Your supervisor should:

  • provide support and advice during the application process and the period of the award
  • be committed to helping you achieve your career aspirations.  

Your supervisor(s) and sponsor will write letters of support. These should discuss your suitability for doctoral research, the quality of your project, and the support that the host organisation and relevant department will offer you.

Other schemes

Research Awards for Health Professionals

Offering practising health professionals the opportunity to carry out humanities or social science research, in any area of health.
Full details of Research Awards for Health Professionals
Scheme finder

A Doctoral Studentship is usually for three years, although we consider requests to undertake PhDs on a part-time basis (eg if someone has family commitments or intends to keep up another career for sufficient hours to maintain a professional accreditation). 

Support includes:

  • If you're based outside London:

    • Year 1: £19,919
    • Year 2: £21,542
    • Year 3: £23,298
    • Year 4: £23,997

    If you're based in London:

    • Year 1: £22,278
    • Year 2: £24,093
    • Year 3: £26,057
    • Year 4: £26,839
  • We usually provide funds at the level charged to UK/EU students, rather than the overseas student rate (with the exception of applicants who are from low- and middle-income countries).

  • a contribution of up to £5,000 towards the costs of attending academic meetings and conferences, including registration fees
      • Travel costs

        You should use the most suitable and economical form of travel. Please include a breakdown for each part of your trip, eg air fares and number of journeys.

        We may cover the costs of other essential visits, eg to facilities and fieldwork. You can include subsistence costs.

        Subsistence costs

        If you’re away for up to one month you can ask for subsistence costs. These include accommodation, meals and incidentals (eg refreshments or newspapers).

        If your administering organisation has a subsistence policy, use their rates.

        If your administering organisation doesn’t have a subsistence policy, please use the HMRC rates.

        If you’re away for more than one month and up to 12 months, we will pay reasonable rental costs only, including aparthotels. You should discuss appropriate rates with your administering and host organisations, or Wellcome, as appropriate. We expect you to choose the most economical options, booked in advance where possible.

        If you’re from a low- or middle- income country and will be working in a high-income country for more than one month and up to 12 months, you can also ask for up to £20 a day to cover extra costs, such as transport and incidentals.

        If you’re away for more than 12 months, we will pay the costs of your housing. You should discuss your needs with your administering and host organisations.

        The allowance we provide will be based on family and business need. We will set the maximum allowance we pay for each location. This will be based on current market data or, where data is unavailable, in consultation with your administering organisation, using equivalent market rates. Please contact us if you need help calculating the costs.

        We will cover the direct expenses you have to pay to find and rent a home. We will not cover the cost of utilities or any refurbishment.

        Overseas research

        If you or any research staff employed on your grant will be doing research away from your home laboratory, we'll help with the additional costs of working on the project overseas. Please see the 'Overseas allowances' section for details.

      • If you or any staff employed on your grant will be spending time in another country, we’ll help you with the additional costs of working on the project overseas.

        Our overseas allowances are:

        • a contribution towards the personal cost of carrying out research overseas, to ensure that you are not disadvantaged
        • provided on the assumption that you’ll be paying income tax, either in your home country, or the country you will be working in (your personal tax is your responsibility).
        • provided on the understanding that you or your partner will not receive equivalent allowances from elsewhere
        • determined by the amount of time you will spend away from your home country.
      • If you will be away more than 12 months, we will provide overseas allowances for your partner and any dependants if they are travelling with you.

        If you will be away for 12 months or less and can justify why your partner and dependants must travel with you, we may provide overseas allowances for them.

        We define your partner as the person:

        • you’re married to
        • you’re not married to but with whom you’ve been in a relationship for at least a year

        and

        • you live with at the same permanent address and share some form of joint financial commitment with (eg a mortgage).
      •  

        See a list of low- and middle-income countries, as defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

        You can ask for the following allowances. You need to provide estimated costs as accurately as possible.

          • We will pay your travel costs at the beginning and end of your overseas work. Costs can be for air, ferry, train or coach fares.

            All fares should be:

            • economy class
            • the most suitable and economical form of travel
            • booked in advance where possible.
          • If you are away for up to 12 months, you can ask for up to 80kg of additional baggage or unaccompanied airline freight for your outward and return journeys.

            If you are away for more than 12 months, you can ask for the costs of shipping your personal items at the beginning and end of your overseas work.

            We will pay the full cost of transporting:

            • half a standard shipping container if you’re travelling alone
            • a whole standard shipping container (20ft) if you’re travelling with a partner and/or dependants.
          • We will pay the cost of your medical insurance and travel insurance.

            If you will be working in a low- or middle-income country we will also cover the cost of emergency evacuation cover.

            We won’t pay for medical insurance if you will be based in the UK or Republic of Ireland.

          • We will pay the costs of visas, vaccinations and anti-malaria treatment.

          • You can ask for this if you’ll be based in a low- or middle-income country and it is necessary.

            Costs can include guards, panic buttons and alarms. You should ask your employing organisation for advice on the level of security you need.

          • If you’re away for up to one month you can ask for subsistence costs. These include accommodation, meals and incidentals (eg refreshments or newspapers).

            If your administering organisation has a subsistence policy, use their rates.

            If your administering organisation doesn’t have a subsistence policy, please use the HMRC rates.

            If you’re away for more than one month and up to 12 months, we will pay reasonable rental costs only, including aparthotels. You should discuss appropriate rates with your administering and host organisations, or Wellcome, as appropriate. We expect you to choose the most economical options, booked in advance where possible.

            If you’re from a low- or middle- income country and will be working in a high-income country for more than one month and up to 12 months, you can also ask for up to £20 a day to cover extra costs, such as transport and incidentals.

            If you’re away for more than 12 months, we will pay the costs of your housing. You should discuss your needs with your administering and host organisations.

            The allowance we provide will be based on family and business need. We will set the maximum allowance we pay for each location. This will be based on current market data or, where data is unavailable, in consultation with your administering organisation, using equivalent market rates. If you need help calculating the costs please contact Grants Management.

            We will cover the direct expenses you have to pay to find and rent a home. We will not cover the cost of utilities or any refurbishment.

          • If you’re away for more than 12 months we will pay:

            Local nursery or school fees

            You can ask for these costs if you are in a location where there isn’t free local education of the same standard as in your home country.

            Costs include:

            • local nursery school fees up to a maximum of 15 hours a week for 3 to 4 year olds
            • local junior or secondary school fees, up to the end of secondary school education.

            Local international school fees

            You can ask for these costs if local schools do not provide the same standard of education as in your home country. We will only pay the published termly school fees.

            We will not cover the costs of:

            • extracurricular activities, including field trips
            • other extras including, but not limited to, uniforms, sports kit and equipment, transport, meals, books and electronic equipment.

            Boarding school fees

            We will consider paying the cost of boarding school fees in your home country if:

            • a local international school is not available
            • both parents, guardians or the sole care giver live outside the home country.

            The allowance covers:

            • up to a maximum of £30,000 a year for each child for the published termly fees only
            • the cost of economy class return airfares at the start and end of each school term.

            We will not cover the costs of:

            • additional annual leave airfares
            • extracurricular activities, including field trips
            • other extras including, but not limited to, uniforms, sports kit and equipment, transport, meals, books and electronic equipment.

            We will cover the cost of providing special needs education as far as possible. Please contact us to discuss your needs.

            We would not usually expect to provide an education allowance if you will be working in a high-income country.

          • If you will be away for more than 12 months, we’ll pay for you to travel back to your home country for annual leave. This is in addition to your outward and return travel costs and depends on how long you will be away:

            • 12-24 months – 1 annual leave trip
            • 25-36 months – 2 annual leave trips
            • 37-48 months – 3 annual leave trips
            • 49-60 months – 4 annual leave trips
            • 61-72 months – 5 annual leave trips.

            All fares should be:

            • economy class
            • the most suitable and economical form of travel
            • booked in advance where possible.
          • If you will be away for more than 12 months, you can ask for up to 100 hours of lessons in the local language for you and/or your partner during the first 12 months of your visit.

            We will cover 100% of the costs for local language school classes or up to 50% of the costs of individual tuition.

            We will not cover the cost of examinations or personal learning materials such as DVDs and books.

    • Your grant includes a Flexible Funding Allowance (FFA), which you can use to pay for unanticipated costs. These can include directly incurred costs of your research, such as:

      • consumables, animals or equipment
      • the actual salary costs of people supported on your award
      • extending the award by a short period
      • page charges and/or costs for colour prints in journals (charges not related to the cost of making a paper compliant with our open access policy).

      You don’t have to apply for an FFA. We calculate it and add it to your award.

      The FFA is 2.5% of your total eligible costs and does not include an inflation allowance. It is capped at £50,000.

    • We will add an inflation allowance to your award.

      How we calculate your inflation allowance

      Your inflation allowance is based on your total eligible costs and the duration of the award. You'll receive the allowance if the costs in your application are in pounds sterling, euros or US dollars.

      Our inflation allowance is increasing. The following rates apply to grants awarded from 1 October 2017:

      Award duration (in months)Inflation allowance
      0-120.0%
      13-241.0%
      25-362.0%
      37-483.0%
      49-604.1%
      61-725.1%
      73-846.2%

      These rates are calculated using compound inflation at 2.0% a year from Year 2 onwards.

      If your costs are in any other currency, we will use an inflation allowance that reflects the inflation rate of the country where the host organisation is based.

      What to include in your application

      The costs in your application must be based on current known costs, excluding inflation.

      You should allow for salary pay awards during Year 1. These should be based on pay awards already agreed; if you don’t know what the pay award is yet then use our inflation rate.

      The Trust’s studentship stipend scales include an annual increase for inflation.

    • Costs you may ask for (you will have to justify these costs in your application):

      • fieldwork costs, including survey and data collection and statistical analysis
      • specialist publications that are relevant to the research and not available in institutional libraries
      • consultancy fees
      • expenses for subjects and volunteers – includes recruitment of participants, their participatory fees and travel, as well as interviewee expenses
      • reasonable research-associated costs related to the feedback of health-related findings but not any healthcare-associated costs
      • costs associated with developing an outputs management plan
      • recruitment, advertising and interviewee travel costs for staff to be employed on the grant
      • purchase, hire and running costs of project-dedicated vehicles.

      Costs we won’t pay:

      • estates costs – such as building and premises costs, basic services and utilities. This also includes phone, postage, photocopying and stationery, unless you can justify these within a clinical or epidemiological study.*
      • research, technical and administrative staff whose time is shared across several projects and isn’t supported by an audit record*
      • charge-out costs for major facilities* – departmental technical and administrative services, and use of existing equipment
      • cleaning, waste and other disposal costs*

      *We will fund these costs in the case of animal-related research.

      • indirect costs – this includes general administration costs such as personnel, finance, library, room hire and some departmental services
      • office furniture, such as chairs, desks, filin cabinets, etc.
      • clothing such as lab coats, shoes, gloves, protective clothing
      • non-research related activities, eg catering, room and venue hire for staff parties, team-building events and social activities
      • indemnity insurance (insurance cover against claims made by subjects or patients associated with a research programme)
      • ethics reviews, unless you are in a low- or middle-income country
      • radiation protection costs.

What we don’t offer

We don't fund international fees for candidates from high-income countries.

We don't fund overheads.

You must submit your application through the Wellcome Trust Grant Tracker (WTGT).

Start your application

Stages of application

  1. Before you apply

    It’s important to check that your application is competitive. Please read the advice in the ‘Eligibility and suitability’ section above before you apply.

  2. Submit your application

    The application form will be available on Grant Tracker in mid-January 2019.

    Make sure you leave enough time for your host organisation to approve your application before the deadline. The authorised organisational approver will tell you how long this will take.

    View the  Sample full application form for Doctoral Studentships [PDF 239KB] 

  3. Host organisation approves your application

    The authorised organisational approver must approve your application before the deadline.

  4. Review

    The Medical Humanities Early Career Expert Review Group or the Social Science and Bioethics Early Career Awards Expert Review Group will review your application, depending on the area of your proposed research.

  5. Decision

    We give most candidates our decision by the end of May. All candidates will have been informed of our decision by the end of July.

Disabled applicants

If you are disabled or have a chronic health condition, we can support you with the application process.

Dates

We consider applications once a year. Your application must have been submitted by you and approved by your organisation by 17.00 (GMT/BST) on the deadline day. We don’t accept late applications.

2019 round

The application form will be available on Wellcome Trust Grant Tracker in mid-January 2019.

  • Application deadline

    26 March 2019, 17:00 GMT

  • Decision

    May 2019

Definitions

Postgraduate training

For people who have, or are about to finish, an undergraduate degree and want to go on to do a Master's or PhD.

UK
Republic of Ireland
Low- or middle-income countries

See a list of low- and middle-income countries, as defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Develop your research career

See our other postgraduate training schemes.

Key dates

We consider applications once a year.

2019 round

The application form will be available on Wellcome Trust Grant Tracker in mid-January 2019.

  • Application deadline

    26 March 2019, 17:00 GMT

  • Decision

    May 2019

Contact us

Contact our information officers if you have a question about funding.

If you have a question about the scope and content of your proposal, contact the relevant person in our Humanities and Social Science team.

People we've funded