Guide to STFC PhD Funding

Introduction to STFC

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) holds an integral position within the United Kingdom’s research and innovation landscape.

Acting as the main source of funding for technology-based science research, STFC is one of seven Research Councils under UK Research and Innovation. It plays an important role in shaping and driving the research agenda in the UK and beyond. Part of its mandate involves developing and operating large-scale facilities and crucial scientific infrastructure that serve various research disciplines, demonstrated by its role in distributing research council funding as STFC PhD funding.

For those pursuing a research degree, understanding the role of STFC becomes particularly relevant. At present, according to, STFC supports a cohort of 766 PhD students! This impressive figure underscores STFC’s commitment to fostering the next generation of scientific innovators. The organisation recognises that the provision of STFC PhD funding forms a vital cornerstone in the country’s growth and development of research.

Understanding STFC PhD Funding

To understand how STFC PhD studentships work, we’ll need to dive into the financial aspects of the support provided. These studentships cover a range of expenses, including fees, maintenance, materials, consumables, and training.

On a yearly basis, STFC provides £4,596 as a fee payment, £17,668 as a doctoral stipend, and £1000 as a Research Training Support Grant (RTSG). These figures account for tuition fee coverage and the annual stipend for living costs. Additionally, as will be covered in more detail later, the STFC may also provide £230 towards the cost of conference fees and undertaking UK fieldwork, as well as Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA). This additional funding forms an important part of the comprehensive financial support package that constitutes an STFC PhD studentship.

The aim here is to provide sufficient support to cover a significant proportion of the maintenance allowance necessary for students to focus on their research. It’s a broad financial umbrella that seeks to ease the financial pressure on students, enabling them to concentrate fully on their research projects.

Breakdown of STFC PhD Funding:

Type of Support Amount
Fee Payment £4,595 per year
Doctoral Stipend £17,668 per year
Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) £1,000 per year
Conference Fees and UK Fieldwork £230 per year
Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA) Variable

Funded PhD Subjects by STFC

STFC supports a broad spectrum of disciplines, primarily within the realm of Physical Sciences. The range of supported subjects include:

  1. Accelerator Science
  2. Astronomy and Astrophysics
  3. Gravitational Wave Physics
  4. Nuclear Physics
  5. Particle Physics
  6. Machine Learning
  7. Solar and Planetary Science

A degree in physics or a closely relevant subject can open the door to STFC funding in these areas. Whether your interest lies in particle physics, nuclear physics, or planetary science, among others, STFC funding can provide the necessary resources to deepen your research. It is important to note that space and space science are core elements within these research disciplines, further extending the range of study areas covered by STFC funding.

The STFC Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs)

A substantial portion of STFC funding is distributed through Doctoral Training Partnerships. These partnerships represent crucial funding opportunities for those seeking to further their academic pursuits.

The doctoral training partnership forms a key pillar in STFC’s strategy to support and nurture research talent in the UK. By connecting multiple institutions and establishing a network of PhD programmes, these partnerships aim to provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in their respective research areas. In this regard, the partnerships operate in much the same way as the Centres for Doctoral Training, another important funding mechanism provided by the funding body.

STFC iCASE Studentships

For those interested in collaborating with non-academic partners, STFC offers the iCASE studentships. These unique opportunities allow for increased cooperation and exchange between academic and non-academic entities. It is worth noting that both Industrial CASE and Industrial CASE-Plus awards necessitate financial contributions from the non-academic partner.

Regarding financial commitments, the non-academic partner contributes an annual £1,400 towards the academic research organisation for the project (this does not apply to SMEs). Moreover, this partner is also responsible for covering any extra cost associated with travel and accommodation. The student, in turn, receives a minimum of £2,760 annually from the partner, again, with an exception for SMEs.

The Industrial CASE-Plus programme comes with an additional perk. Here, the non-academic partner pays 50% of the student’s salary in the additional year (up to £14,250). And in case the non-academic partner withdraws, STFC provides an Industrial CASE addition of £615 per year to the student. These arrangements offer academic researchers a wide range of benefits and enhance their prospects by widening their living expenses coverage.

STFC Centres for Doctoral Training

An alternate avenue for students to secure STFC funding is through the STFC Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs). Universities or networks of research organisations set up these centres; each Centre for Doctoral Training focuses on a specific range of subject areas, making them highly specialised hubs of research and learning.

CDTs aim to provide comprehensive training to graduate students, setting them up for a successful research career in their chosen fields. Just like the research councils, these centres offer research council studentships. As such, your academic transcripts play a crucial role in securing a position within these prestigious training centres.

Eligibility Criteria for STFC Funding

STFC PhD funding is open to a wide range of applicants. This includes UK, international, and EU students. However, there are specific criteria that applicants need to meet.

An STFC PhD student can’t work full-time, however, they may possibly be able to work part-time under certain conditions. Moreover, STFC PhD studentships cannot be combined with a UK doctoral loan. This is because these funding mechanisms are designed as fully funded scholarships, covering most of a student’s PhD scholarship expenses. Whether you’re an overseas student or a domestic one, or only hold an undergraduate degree, STFC provides equal funding opportunities to all UK applicants.

Application Process for STFC Funding

When it comes to applying for STFC funding, the process starts with looking for advertised projects on DTP and CDT websites. These PhD projects come with predefined questions, goals, and aims that applicants need to be aware of.

The typical PhD application includes a personal statement, covering letter, and CV with references. Note that the application deadline for these scholarships can vary greatly. They may be year-round or set to specific dates depending on the specific PhD programme.

Here are some tips for winning STFC PhD funding:

  1. Contact potential supervisors before applying.
  2. Keep your application form and other application materials up to date.
  3. Give yourself ample time to prepare your application.
  4. Research thoroughly the area you’re applying to work on.

Payment Details for STFC Funding

As mentioned earlier, STFC provides:

  • an annual fee payment of £4,596,
  • a doctoral stipend of £17,668, and
  • a Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) of £1,000.

In addition to these, STFC may also provide a contribution of £230 towards conference fees and UK fieldwork, as well as Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA). These arrangements ensure that students are fully funded and can focus solely on their research.

As mentioned before, the specifics of these payments make STFC one of the most generous funding providers in the United Kingdom. From covering UK tuition fees to providing a comprehensive PhD studentship, STFC supports students throughout their relevant project journey.

The Disabled Students’ Allowance

For disabled students, the STFC provides additional support. STFC-funded PhD students with disabilities can contact their research organisation for guidance and advice. The specific awards under the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) can vary, but they can be estimated using the guidance provided on the GOV.UK website. These arrangements ensure that students with disabilities can fully participate and excel in their STFC PhD studentship.

Overseas Fieldwork Opportunities

Apart from offering strong funding opportunities, the STFC also provides unique chances for students to participate in overseas fieldwork. As part of this initiative, STFC may provide a contribution of £230 towards conference fees and UK fieldwork. This means you can focus on your research without worrying about financial constraints.

This commitment to fostering a wide-ranging learning environment makes STFC one of the most coveted research council funding bodies in the United Kingdom. Whether you’re studying gravitational waves or any other relevant subject, STFC provides a solid platform for UK applicants and international students alike to advance their research career.

The STFC represents a unique opportunity for ambitious researchers in the physical sciences to pursue a fully-funded PhD. Whether through the traditional research council route, Doctoral Training Partnerships, or Centres for Doctoral Training, the STFC provides a variety of avenues to obtain support and further your scientific career.


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