How To Apply

Our recruitment philosophy

INSPIRE seeks excellent prospective research students regardless of their particular scientific background. We aim to recruit the best students rather than to fill particular projects. We put a huge amount of effort into the recruitment process to meet this objective. We expect to receive hundreds of applications and interview around 100 candidates a year. Those candidates invited for interview will typically spend a whole day at NOCS in Southampton, meeting with supervisors and going through the interview process. Additionally, students applying for projects based outside of NOCS at one of the other partner organisations or within the wider University of Southampton are encouraged to arrange with prospective supervisors to visit the potential hosting organisation.

Minimum Academic Eligibility Criteria

BSc/MSci 2:1

and/or Masters (MSc or MRes) at Merit/Distinction level (>60%).

and/or evidence of significant relevant professional experience equivalent to Masters level.


A list of available INSPIRE projects for Sep 2020start entry can be found here.

We encourage candidates to list two or three projects in which they are interested with a provisional ranking of preference to help us circulate your application among the pool of potential supervisors. Please submit only one application. Multiple projects can be listed on one application.


INSPIRE studentships are funded by the Natural and Environmental Research Council (NERC). All of our studentships are fully funded for 3.5 years (for UK and EU students who meet the eligibility criteria below). Please ensure that you meet these criteria before you make an application. The stipend is in line with RCUK stipend levels.

To be eligible for a full award (stipend and fees), a student must satisfy all of these conditions:

  • Settled status in the UK, meaning they have no restrictions on how long they can stay.
  • Been ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for three years prior to the start of the grant. This means they must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences).
  • Not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. (This does not apply to UK or EU nationals.)

INSPIRE have a very small number of studentships to offer to those who are not eligible for a full studentship award i.e. EU students not meeting the above criteria. However, please note that the studentship will only cover the UKRI rate of stipend and fees.

Some projects are open to strong applicants who do not meet the above eligibility and/or are using alternative funding mechanisms. Applications to these should be made via the GSNOCS PhD programme or other hosts.


All PhD applications to INSPIRE should be made here.

Potential PhD students are requested to apply using the University of Southampton postgraduate application form, appending the following:

  • curriculum vitae giving details of your academic record and stating your research interests,
  • name two current academic referees together with an institutional email addresses in the Reference section of the application form. On submission of your online application your referees will be automatically emailed requesting they send a reference to us directly by email,
  • your academic transcript and IELTS/TOEFL certificate, if applicable.

As far as possible please upload all documents in pdf format.

Please remember to include a short statement of your research interests and rationale for your choice of project(s) in the Personal Statement section of the application form.

You are encouraged to contact potential supervisors by email to discuss project-specific aspects of the proposed research at an early stage. General enquiries should be directed to the GSNOCS Team by email at:

Timetable and Deadlines

Deadline for applications to be received is 03 January 2020.

Interview dates for successful candidates are:

  • Thursday 20 February 2020
  • Friday 21 February 2020
  • Thursday 27 February 2020
  • Friday 28 February 2020

Please note they are all day events and will be allocated based on interview panel availability.