Frequently Asked Questions

Below are our frequently asked questions. We hope you find the answers you are looking for. If not, please contact one of our centre managers.

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Application process

  1. How long will the CDT in its current form run for?
    2023 will be the last year we will be recruiting.

  2. When does the application process start?
    Nov/Dec of each year (for students commencing the following year); the last year of recruitment for this CDT will be for students commencing in 2023.

  3. Can you choose the university you want to be based in for the duration of your PhD program? Can you apply to more than one university?
    You chose the university (University of Nottingham or University College London) or Research Centre (SSPC) you want to join at the time of application. You can apply to one, two or all three locations and this is an option on the application form. 

    With respect to the SSPC, one PhD position is available each year in each of: Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork and University College Dublin. Candidates who are shortlisted and interviewed can indicate their preferred location at the interview stage.

  4. Can you apply to both the SFI-funded studentships and ESPRC-funded studentships or do you have to choose between the two?
    You can apply to both

  5. How many candidates will be selected?
    There are up to 15 studentships available. 3 are with the SSPC in Ireland, up to 6 are at the University of Nottingham in the UK and up to 6 are at the University College London, in the UK.

  6. Is there any advantage to apply early or do the applications only get assessed once the deadline passes?
    All applications get assessed after the deadline. If not, all places are filled, we will carry on taking applications for another round of interviews.

  7. If you have applied previously, can you apply again?
    Yes, absolutely.

  8. Do you look at the overall grade for your degree/postgraduate degree or the individual module breakdown?
    We look at the overall grade.

  9. Are references required for the application?
    References will only be asked for if you are offered a place on the programme. Being prepared by having a referee for all your qualifications would be ideal.

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Funding and eligibility

  1. Is this opportunity open for only UK students or for students worldwide?
    The studentships are open to UK, EU and International students. The awards cover tuition fees (all or part depending on the student status and university) and a tax-free stipend for the duration of the PhD. For further information on funding please see our Funding and eligibility page.

  2. Does the EPSRC award cover the tuition fees and stipends for EU students when they have pre-settled status?

  3. Does the SFI award (for students undertaking their PhD in one of the Irish universities) cover the tuition fees and stipends for non-EU students?
    The tuition fee covered is only at the level of what an EU-students would be charged. The student is then responsible for covering the difference in international fees. The stipend is the same regardless of whether a student is EU or non-EU.

  4. Is a UK student regarded as EU or non-EU with respect to application to Irish universities?
    A Memo of Understanding (MoU) on the Common Travel Area (CTA) was signed between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 2019. Under the CTA the Government of Ireland and the UK Government have agreed that UK and Irish citizens have the right to access all levels of education in either state on terms no less favourable than those available to the citizens of that state.

    In terms of higher education, this means that notwithstanding Brexit, UK students are still to be eligible for the same fee structures as Irish Students.

    UK citizens wishing to enrol in Irish Higher Education Institute will remain eligible on the same basis as Irish (and other EU) students, as per the CTA. Read more.

  5. At what stage of the application will you know whether you are eligible for funding (if you are an international student)?
    For SFI-funded studentships, international students are eligible for EU-level fees and a full stipend. The student is then responsible for covering the difference in international fees. For EPSRC-funded studentships, exceptional international applicants (including EU) the UK universities may cover the remaining tuition fees. However, these spaces are very limited, one per university.

  6. What additional scholarships are there beyond the stipend, if any, and how do we apply for these?
    There is no other funding available through the CDT.

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Interview process

  1. What is the structure of the interview?
    5 minutes presentation of a research project you were involved in either as an undergraduate or any other previous experience or an area of science you are interested in followed by questions. Then general questions about yourself and a scientific question of the day. Further details of the recruitment and interview process can be found on our Recruitment Process page.

  2. Are the scientific interview questions technical questions relating to your project, to pharmaceuticals or general science, current news, knowledge?
    Widespread and depending on who the academic interviewers are on the day.

  3. Do we have to prove our English proficiency? 
    If you did not undertake your undergraduate education in English then IELTS or some other standard English as a Second Language (ESL) test scores are required. Details may be found on the webpages of the various universities.

  4. Do we need to provide IELTS scores if we only undertook MSc courses in English?
    The IELTS score is required if the awarding institution does not teach in English. It is not enough to take some courses in English as part of an MSc, but if you have recently completed an undergraduate or post-graduate course taught in English in an English-speaking country then you may be exempt from taking an additional IELTS test. For more information on this, please see the links provided in the previous question. The IELTS test scores are valid for 2 years.

  5. When do we need to provide the IELTS scores?
    If you are offered a place on the programme - you will need to provide as soon as possible after being offered a place on the CDT, and by end of August in the year of enrolment at the latest. You will not be allowed to register without this being in place.

  6. Do students look for their own place once they know which university they are at? Or do they move into postgrad halls, or do they move into shared accommodation together?
    Any of these options can be chosen depending on what you are most comfortable with and what you would prefer. In the UK, (University of Nottingham and UCL) students are eligible to live at post graduate student accommodation supplied by the university.

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PhD projects

  1. How are PhD projects selected?
    For the EPSRC-funded studentships (in the University of Nottingham and UCL), PhD projects are generated in a Project Generation event or “Sandpit” in the spring of year one. This involves bringing academics, industry researchers and students together (either virtually or in person) to discuss the unmet needs in drug delivery and devise projects which could help to address these. We seek to generate significantly more projects than there are students on the CDT. After the event, the projects are written up in more detail, and subjected to a review process by the CDT Management Board. After review, the project list is shared with students, with details of which industry partners are associated with each project, and students are asked to select their preferred projects. Should multiple students choose the same project we would then interview to determine who to allocate it to, but this has not been a significant issue in the past.

    For the SFI-funded studentships, the PhD projects have already been created and have a supervisor and you are offered a choice of projects at the time of shortlisting for interview. You are made an offer for one of the projects.

  2. Do you choose your own project, or is there a list of projects which you must choose from?

    For the EPSRC-funded studentships, you do not have to pick a main project on the day of the Project Generation Event (process explained in the previous question): instead, you are given plenty of time to review the projects before choosing your top choice. In this time, you can communicate with supervisors and other students to find something that works best for everyone. If it comes to it the supervisor will interview between two students.

    For the SFI-funded studentships, details of the PhD projects on offer in the three Irish universities are provided to shortlisted candidates who are invited to interview. Candidates can indicate a preference for a project at interview and successful candidates will be offered one of the projects available.

  3. I already have a supervisor and a project, could a supervisor initiate funding or apply for funding for an international student from the CDT?
    In the UK, we do not directly fund supervisors and their projects. You need to apply as a PhD student with our Centre. If you are made an offer, this is an offer to study on the CDT and not for a particular project or supervisor. We cannot guarantee that a particular project will be available in a given year, nor which supervisor(s) you will ultimately end up working with. All EPSRC-funded studentship PhD projects are overseen by the Management Team to ensure they fit within the EPSRC and CDT remit. For SFI-studentships, you are offered a choice of projects at the time of shortlisting. You are made an offer for one of the projects.

  4. What happens if more than one student picks the same PhD project?

    In the case of the EPSRC-funded studentships the supervisors who are leading the project will interview all students interested in their project. In the case of the SFI-funded studentships, the interview panel selects the candidate they deem most suitable for each project on offer and each successful student is offered just one project. If the student declines the offer of a place with the CDT, the project may be offered to another student.

  5. How is the selection process for industry partner/research themes handled?

    For EPSRC-funded studentships, industry placements are offered in the first year before you start your PhD. Our industry partners internally determine which projects they can offer and write a short summary of each. A brochure of projects is then shared with students, and students asked to select their top three choices. We then allocate students to projects, doing our best to ensure each student gets a top choice.

    SFI-funded studentships have their industry placements in the second or third year of the PhD. Students are placed through the placement procedures applied to all PhD students of the SSPC Research Centre.

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