Making your application to DREAM

Fully-funded NERC research PhD studentships available in DREAM

We are pleased to announce below a fully funded PhD studentship in the NERC DREAM CDT – the details are below! If you are interested in joining us in DREAM to study for a PhD in Big Data, Risk and Environmental Analytical methods, we look forward to hearing from you. Please take note of the University proposing each of the projects and be sure to contact the respective team regarding any further details you need.

We have a fully funded position open for the right applicant, to commence in late Spring/early Summer 2018. Any questions? See our FAQ, or do get in touch. See also the timeline of the application process.

MS Word document
DREAM CDT Student Application Form »

Note, when completed, please email the form (plus additional documents as directed) to the respective university contact shown in the listings below.

Cranfield University-based projects
For these projects, send completed applications to Dr Stephen Hallett
Characterising and exploring landscape resilience through big data and visualisation technologies
A three year fully-funded PhD studentship at Cranfield University in the natural capital and landscape management informatics sector, partnering with Natural England and part of the DREAM Centre for Doctoral Training.

Landscape is the arena in which natural capital (providing ‘supporting’, ‘provisioning’, ‘regulating’ and ‘cultural’ ecosystem goods and services) interacts with elements of the other four ‘capital’s’ to create the real places that people inhabit, derive benefits from and care about. Throughout time, landscapes change as a result of natural processes but the rate of change is now orders of magnitudes greater due to anthropogenic activity. Thus key questions facing those organisations involved in landscape management and policy include:

  • is the rate of landscape change taking place today sustainable in terms of conserving the diversity of character and functions?and critically
  • how resilient are England’s landscapes to change?

Natural England is one such organisation, responsible for delivering the Government Agenda in this field. Conservation 21 – Natural England’s conservation strategy for the 21st Century, places emphasis on ‘resilient landscapes’. Significantly they argue that ‘resilient’ landscapes must be both ecologically and culturally resilient (implying culturally valued/supported/voted-for etc.), highlighting that landscapes lacking cultural resilience are unlikely to be ecologically resilient in the long term.

Working in partnership with Natural England’s Strategy Team, this exciting studentship will investigate the use of big data relating to natural and social sciences, together with, for example Virtual Reality visualisation and big data techniques, to provide an holistic, integrated analysis of ecosystem service provision as experienced through society’s perception of the changing landscapes around them and in a way that secures assessment of ecological and cultural aspects of the management of the natural environment equally. This will then enable development of management and intervention aimed at enhancing natural capital, ecosystem goods and services in their cultural context, by testing different scenarios. The studentship will be based in the Cranfield Institute for Resilient Futures and make extensive use of the NERC-funded ‘Ecosystem Services Databank and Visualisation for Terrestrial Informatics’ Laboratory, which includes a portable Virtalis stereo VR system and GeoVisionary software, and Occulus Rift setup.

Cranfield’s Virtual Reality system in action

We are seeking a highly motivated candidate with an interest and aptitude for transdisciplinary environmental research, particularly geographical information systems/spatial analysis, policy, decision-making and social sciences. The candidate will be a member of the NERC/ESRC DREAM Centre for Doctoral Training and will receive excellent support in terms of training and mentoring.

About you: Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level of equivalent in subjects such as Geography, Environmental Science, Ecology, Computing or Psychology. We are particularly interested in applicants with an interest in pursuing novel transdisciplinary environmental research.

The studentship will be part of the NERC ‘DREAM’ Centre for Doctoral Training, offering an attractive stipend, a strong professional development ethos and fantastic training provision. Its research experience combines academic rigour with real-world problem solving, ensuring opportunities to progress your career in the global energy informatics sector. Researchers will study for a PhD, benefiting from expertise, events and courses run at all four of the DREAM partner universities.

For further details: Please contact Dr Simon Jude (Cranfield), Senior Lecturer
Tel: +44 (0)1234 754295

Industrial partner: Natural England –

University of Birmingham-based projects
For these projects, send completed applications to Dr Emmanouil Tranos
There are currently no DREAM studentship places available at the University of Birmingham

Newcastle University-based projects
For these projects, send completed applications to Dr Stuart Barr
There are currently no DREAM studentship places available at Newcastle University

University of Cambridge-based projects
For these projects, send completed applications to Dr Mike Bithell
There are currently no DREAM studentship places available at the University of Cambridge

Timeline and what happens next

  1. Studentship advertisements are announced – October, 2017
  2. Studentship applications closing date – Applications must be received by late Spring/early Summer, 2018
  3. Notification of applicants selected for interview –
  4. Interviews held –
  5. Notification of successful applicants –
  6. DREAM commencement and induction – Summer, 2018

Background: Overall, the DREAM Centre for Doctoral Training supports three cohorts of 10 students, who join our programme in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively, plus a further cohort of seven ‘NPIF’ doctoral places. Further to this, there are a number of other PhD students whose studies are affiliated to DREAM – extending out our vibrant community of research practice.

The two projects advertised above, ‘NERD-IT’ and ‘Characterising Resilience’, are available now for applications.

Our Dream students in post are now underway with their research projects, which are described here. All our positions are competitive and the student applications and interview stage allow us to identify and select the top applicants.

If you are interested in pursuing a PhD in the area of Big Data and environmental science and risk mitigation – we’d like to hear from you. Please contact the persons noted above to discuss – and send us your CV! We look forward to hearing from you.
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I am interested – what do I need to do?

The current selection of proposed doctoral projects is listed above, and is also available in other appropriate online channels, as well as on respective university noticeboards. You can make your application for up to two specific projects – in fact doing so may aid your chances. The DREAM student application form is also provided above for this purpose.

What are the benefits accruing from DREAM?

Over the course of their three year study with us (full time), DREAM students all receive the following annual bursary from NERC, made as a tax free payment:
Year 1: £17.5k
Year2: £18k
Year 3: £18.5k
Sum: £54k
In addition Dream students will have their university fees automatically paid, and their studentship is also allocated a ‘Research Training Support Grant’ (RTSG), managed through the centre that provides students access to a wide spectrum of training and development activities, and to inter-institute events such as our annual DREAM Challenge Week and the DREAM Symposium. Further to this, and the full range of advanced technical and scientific training of offer, our current DREAM students have also received a range of expert instruction and training, supported by NERC. In the past this has included week-long sessions at the renowned Hartree Centre for Big Data, an ‘Ideas to Impact’ course in the Cranfield School of Management, and a science communication course with professional graphic designers. Full details of these events are elsewhere on this site. More exciting training and development activities are planned!

I need more information

Please identify and contact one of the DREAM Management Board representatives who will be pleased to advise further.

Residence requirements and Eligibility

The ‘Research Councils UK’ (which incorporates NERC) have rules on Funding for Research Training. This webpage links to the Terms and Conditions of Research Council Training Grants which, in Clause 43 onwards, notes that to be eligible for a full award a student must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship. To be eligible for a ‘fees only’ award, note that students from EU countries other than the UK are generally eligible where they have been ordinarily resident in a member state of the EU; in the same way as UK students must be ordinarily resident in the UK. If you seek clarification on your situation, please contact us.

Note that for purposes of residence requirements, the UK includes the United Kingdom and Islands (i.e. the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man).

I have a disability, what should I do?

Described at Funding for Research Training, the Research Councils UK (RCUK) Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) are intended to help with additional expenditure for the costs of study-related requirements that may be incurred as a result of disability, mental health problem or specific learning difficulty that means additional support is needed to undertake a Research Council funded studentship. The allowances can cover the cost of non-medical personal assistance, items of specialist equipment, extra travel costs and general expenses. Please contact us for further information.

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