How to Apply

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Horizon CDT PhD Studentships for Sept 2022 Entry

We are accepting applications for fully funded Horizon CDT PhD studentships to commence in September 2022. We have up to 15 PhD studentships available, including up to 3 PhD studentships for international candidates.

Please read all the information on this page, then download and follow the Horizon CDT Step by Step Application Guide (pdf) carefully to give your application the best chance of success.

You may also like to view a recording of our December Introduction to Horizon CDT for Potential Applicants webinar by CDT Director Steve Benford.

Application Deadlines

Home Applicants Round 2 Deadline: 11:59pm on Monday, 7th March 2022.

International applicants: Applications closed due to volume of applications received in round 1

Interview Days will take place in April 2022 and may be face-to-face or online – depending on circumstances at the time.

About the Horizon CDT PhD Programme

The Horizon CDT PhD programme is not a “traditional” PhD programme.  Before applying, please review the information on this website so you fully understand how our programme works.  In particular we recommend you review:


Applicants must be able to demonstrate a capability to undertake and benefit from research training through to completion, to qualify for a doctorate. This normally requires an upper second class honours degree, or a combination of qualifications and/or experience equivalent to that level.

Under our funding arrangements, Horizon CDT PhD studentships are open to both UK and international candidates, but with a limited number of places available for international candidates. Due to the volume of international applicants in round 1, round 2 is for home students only,

For international students whose first language is not English an up to date IELTS with an average score of 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any element, or an acceptable alternative qualification is required for entry to the Horizon CDT programme.  You do not need to provide test results or evidence of alternative qualifications at the application stage, unless you already have them.  See also: University of Nottingham policy on minimum English language entry requirements.

Summary of our recruitment process

Between 12-15 fully funded studentships are available each year to start in late September, including up to 3 studentships open to international applicants. Recruitment begins the preceding November.  There are usually 1-2 rounds of recruitment for home candidates, and 1 round for international candidates.

All applications are made online, and must be fully submitted before the specified deadline above.  Please make sure that you provide all the required information requested or your application may be rejected at the pre-screening stage.  Eligible applications are then assessed by a shortlisting panel against our assessment criteria to produce a shortlist of candidates who are  invited for academic interview.   You will be informed whether or not you are being invited for interview within 4 weeks of the closing date for Home candidates.  International applications may take longer to process.

Following a successful academic interview, the CDT will seek to “match” candidates with a theme and external partner (based on the candidates’ interests and experience).  Partner interviews are usually carried out online.  The CDT will make every effort to match candidates with suitable partners, but this cannot be guaranteed. An offer of a PhD studentship can only be made after a successful interview with an external partner.

Horizon CDT PhD Application Assessment Criteria

Applications are assessed by a multidisciplinary shortlisting/ interview panel, against the following criteria:

  • Capability to undertake and benefit from research training through to completion, to qualify for a doctorate (This normally requires an upper second class honours degree, or a combination of qualifications and/or experience equivalent to that level).
  • Evidence of prior thinking around the challenges of the Horizon Creating Our Lives in Data CDT topic focus (i.e. digital identity, personal data and data creativity within the global digital economy)
  • An interest in and potential for inter-disciplinary research.
  • An interest in and potential to work well with external partners.

It is therefore important that your application clearly demonstrates how you meet the above criteria.  The CDT provides a Horizon CDT Personal Statement Form structured around the above criteria which you must complete and upload in your application.

What to include in your online application

In your online application, you must include:

  • Curriculum Vitae (for candidates without a 2:1 at undergraduate degree level, you must include evidence of a combination of qualifications and/or experience equivalent to that level).
  • Copies of degree certificates/transcripts where relevant.
  • A completed Horizon CDT Personal Statement Form. Please download and complete the form and upload it with your online application. The Personal Statement is the most important part of the application, where you will demonstrate how you meet assessment criteria.
  • Contact details of 2 referees at least one of whom must be an academic – a work email address must be provided for the academic referee (not a personal email address).

Applicants do not need to identify a supervisor or include a research proposal with their application. In the Horizon CDT model, the research proposal and the supervisory team are developed during the first year.  However if you are interested in a very specific area or theme, please indicate this on the Horizon CDT Personal Statement Form.

Step-by-Step instructions to submitting your application online

Please download our Horizon CDT Step by Step Application Guide (pdf)

What happens next?

You will normally receive an email from the University Admissions Team to confirm your application has been received the following working day.  Please check your Spam folder if you don’t receive it.

You may be requested to provide further information, please note that you will have a 1 week deadline to provide this.

Please let your referees know that the University will be contacting them shortly for a reference, and suggest they to check their Spam folder if the email does not appear in due course.

You will be informed whether you have been shortlisted for academic interview by email.  For Home students this will be approximately 4 weeks after the closing date.  For international students it may take longer.