Four-year PhD Programmes in Science

This scheme funds PhD programmes that offer graduates outstanding training in scientific research.

Scheme at a glance

Where your host organisation is based:


Type of researcher:

Basic, Public health

Level of funding:

Studentship stipends, fees and other costs

Duration of funding:

Five annual intakes of students, starting in autumn 2020

Who can apply

You can apply for this award if you're the proposed director of a PhD programme. 

You must:

  • be employed at an eligible host organisation in the UK
  • be an international leader in your research field
  • have a strong track record in postgraduate research training.


You can apply either for a new programme or to renew an existing programme.

The programme must be administered by an eligible host organisation in the UK.  It can involve partnerships with eligible organisations based anywhere in the world. The programme can take place at more than one organisation.

The programme can:

  • focus on a single area of science or involve multiple disciplines
  • be based at a single organisation or shared between organisations. 

Your team of potential supervisors must be experienced and/or trained at delivering postgraduate training. 

The programme must have one director who is the lead applicant. It can also include additional co-directors.

Programmes must have:

  • an excellent scientific environment
  • a compelling rationale for the training programme
  • high-quality, innovative training that supports the personal, professional and technical development of students during and after their PhDs
  • a clear strategy to recruit diverse student intakes
  • a commitment to support a positive research culture and to openly share best practice.

In addition, for programmes to be competitive they should have:

  • a well-resourced research environment
  • a clear and robust management structure
  • a strategy for mentoring students 
  • an approach to supporting tailored transitions for individual students at the beginning and/or end of their PhDs 
  • a plan for supporting students to get credit for their work within a reasonable timeframe, eg by submitting papers to pre-print servers or Wellcome Open Research
  • a plan for publishing data about student recruitment, completion rates and what students go on to do after their PhDs. 

We expect programmes to demonstrate how they will monitor the progress of students, the success of the programme and the quality of the supervision. 

Organisations applying for more than one programme

If your organisation is applying for more than one PhD programme, we'll consider them if: 

  • they are distinct from one another
  • the relationship between the programmes is clear
  • they have strong institutional commitment.

You must submit a separate application form for each programme. We may ask organisations to prioritise their applications. 

Renewals of existing Wellcome programmes

If you are applying to renew an existing Wellcome-funded PhD programme, your application will be considered in competition with all the other applications.

Who can't apply

You can't apply for this award if you're looking for funding:

What's expected of your host organisation

You must provide evidence of institutional commitment to deliver and sustain the programme and to promote a positive research culture. We expect organisations to: 

  • provide administrative support for the programme
  • cover the difference in fees for non-UK nationals 
  • give directors the time they need to oversee the programme's activities and recognise their contributions 
  • train and facilitate new independent group leaders to supervise students
  • protect and support students' mental health 
  • enhance and promote a diverse and inclusive research environment
  • comply with all our policies, including good research practice, research misconduct and bullying and harassment.

Other schemes

Four-year PhD Studentships in Science

Offering the most promising students in-depth postgraduate training at 32 programmes throughout the UK.
Full details of Four-year PhD Studentships in Science

PhD Programmes for Clinicians

Inviting organisations to establish PhD programmes for clinical academics.
Full details of PhD Programmes for Clinicians
Scheme finder

    We provide funding for five intakes of students for each PhD programme.

    We expect successful programmes to plan their recruitment so that the first students start their training in autumn 2020.

    Each intake should have three to five students.

    Each PhD studentship is for 4 years. In addition, we will provide funds to support transitions at the beginning and/or the end of the PhD studentship. This will enable students to prepare for PhD training, advance their scientific careers or move to a career of their choice. 

    The structure of a studentship is flexible. For example:

    • 1 year of rotations followed by a 3-year research project
    • 6 months of rotations followed by a 3.5-year research project
    • a 4-year research project.

    We are also open to other variations including, for example, using a foundation year to attract students from different disciplines.

    We will make a single award for each programme, based on the number of students in each intake. For each student, we will provide support for:

      • 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
      • PhD registration fees at the UK/EU student rate
      • college fees (where required)

    We'll also make a fixed contribution towards:

    • research expenses, including the cost of animals 
    • training, including technical, discipline-specific and transferable skills
    • travel costs.

What we don’t offer

We don't fund overheads.

We don’t provide administrative costs.

You can apply online from autumn 2018.

Stages of application

  1. Before you apply

  2. Submit your preliminary application

    Preliminary application forms will be available on Grant Tracker in autumn 2018.

    The lead applicant on the form must be the proposed director. 

  3. Assessment of your preliminary application

    The PhD Programmes Committee will assess your preliminary application. If shortlisted, we’ll invite you to submit a full application.

  4. Submit your full application to your host organisation for approval

    Complete the full application form on Grant Tracker and submit it to the 'authorised organisational approver' at your host organisation for approval. Make sure you leave enough time for the approver to review and submit your application before the deadline. The approver may ask you to make changes to your application.

  5. Host organisation reviews your full application and submits it to us

    Your application must be submitted by 17:00 (GMT/BST) on the deadline day.

  6. Assessment of full application

    The PhD Programmes Committee will assess your full application. We’ll give you a decision within a month of the committee meeting.

Disabled applicants

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


  • Wellcome roadshows

    Autumn 2018 (see 'How to apply' section on this page)

  • Preliminary application forms available online

    Autumn 2018 (date to be confirmed)

  • Preliminary applications deadline

    January/February 2019 (date to be confirmed)

  • Invited full applications deadline

    June 2019 (date to be confirmed)

  • Decision

    July/August 2019



You're not a clinically qualified researcher.

Public health

Key dates

  • Wellcome roadshows

    Autumn 2018 (see 'How to apply' section on this page)

  • Preliminary application forms available online

    Autumn 2018 (date to be confirmed)

  • Preliminary applications deadline

    January/February 2019 (date to be confirmed)

  • Invited full applications deadline

    June 2019 (date to be confirmed)

  • Decision

    July/August 2019

Contact us

If you have a question, contact:

Contact our information officers if you need help with our online grants system (Grant Tracker).