How to Apply

CDt students in a learning session

Horizon CDT PhD Studentships for Sept 2023 Entry

Please see Current Opportunities for more information about studentships available for September 2023 entry along with our application deadlines and any specific entry requirements.

The Horizon CDT 4 year PhD programme is not a “traditional” PhD programme, please make sure you understand how the programme works before applying – see: Programme Details


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. For some studentships additional criteria apply and these are stated in the description in Current Opportunities.

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.

*  Please note – not all projects are open to international students, due to limited number of international studentships we can offer.

Summary of our application process

All applications are made online, and must be fully submitted before the specified deadline above.  Please make sure that you provide all the information requested and that you meet all eligibility requirements, or your application will be rejected.  Eligible applications are 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 start to “match” candidates with the appropriate 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).
  • 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.
  • Copies of degree certificates/transcripts where relevant.
  • 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.  Please indicate which theme(s) you are interested in on the Horizon CDT Personal Statement Form.

How to submit your application

Please download our Horizon CDT Step by Step Application Guide (pdf) and carefully follow the instructions to submit your application and upload required documents.   Incomplete applications or applications received after the stated deadline will be rejected.

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.