Our recruitment philosophy

Students on fieldwork 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. Candidates invited for interview spend a whole day in Southampton, meeting 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.

How to apply

Minimum Academic Eligibility Criteria

  • BSc/MSci 2:1 (or equivalent)
  • and/or Masters (MSc or MRes) at Merit/Distinction level (>60%).
  • and/or evidence of significant relevant professional experience equivalent to Masters level.
  • IELTS overall 6.5 / TOEFL overall 92 (Band C), if applicable.



A list of available INSPIRE projects for September 2024 start.

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 (max. 3) can be listed on one application.



INSPIRE studentships are funded by the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC). The stipend is in line with UKRI stipend levels. All studentships are fully funded for 3.5 years. Both UK and non-UK candidates are eligible to apply.

EU students coming to the UK from 1 January 2021 will need to apply for a visa to study in the UK.



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 degree certificate (translated if not in English) - if you have completed both a BSc & an MSc, we require both.
  • IELTS/TOEFL certificate, if applicable. For more information, please see the University of Southampton's English Language Proficiency page.

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 Admissions team by email at: fels-pgr-apply@soton.ac.uk

View the recording of and FAQs from INSPIRE DTP’s webinar for prospective applicants that took place on Wednesday 6 December 2023.

2023/24 Timetable and Deadlines

Due to the planned closure of the University’s primary data centre, the deadline for applications to be received has been extended to 08 January 2024. Interview dates for successful candidates are:

  • Monday 12 February 2024
  • Thursday 15 February 2024
  • Friday 16 February 2024
  • Thursday 22 February 2024
  • Friday 23 February 2024

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

General enquiries and requests for reasonable adjustments should be directed to the Admissions team by email at: fels-pgr-apply@soton.ac.uk 

Useful links