ESRC WGSSS studentship in Environmental Planning

The department of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University are delighted to offer fully funded Wales Graduate School for the Social Sciences (WGSSS) studentships starting in October 2024.

Duration of study

The duration study is dependent on prior research experience and training needs which will be assessed by completing an Initial Development Needs Analysis (Initial DNA) at the application stage and a Full DNA prior to award if successful.

Durations of study may vary from 3.5 to 4.5 years full time (or part time equivalent).

This may include:

-       a 1+3.5 programme – support for a research training master’s and PhD, particularly where indicated by the WGSSS’s EDI and Widening Participation goals

Research in practice placement

All WGSSS funded students are required to complete a funded Research in Practice placement of 3-months in total. All students will have the opportunity to complete a placement in academia, policy, business, or civil society organisations.

Entry Criteria

To receive WGSSS studentship funding, you must have qualifications or experience equal to an honours degree at a first or upper second-class level, or a masters from a UK academic research organisation. Students with non-traditional academic backgrounds are also welcome to apply.

English language requirements

Those whose first language is not English must obtain a score of at least 7.0 in IELTS (with no less than 6.5 in the Writing element and no less than 5.5 in Listening, Speaking and Reading).

Please read our English language requirements for more details.



WGSSS studentships are available to home and international students. Up to 30% of our cohort can comprise international students.

Applicants should satisfy the UKRI eligibility requirements. WGSSS is committed to supporting and promoting equality and diversity and creating an inclusive environment for all. We welcome applications from all members of the global community irrespective of age, disability, sex, gender identity, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation.

We welcome applications for both full and part-time study.


Applicants are reminded to submit all relevant documents (transcripts, supporting statement, etc.) by the deadline. Due to the volume of applications received, incomplete applications will not be considered.

Short-listed applicants will be invited to interview. As part of the interview process, applicants will be asked to give a short presentation and answer a series of panel questions consistent with previous practice on the pathway during the Wales DTP and guided by the WGSSS’s commitments on EDI.

Interviews will be held virtually via Teams.

Applicants can expect to hear the outcome of their interview within 8 weeks.


How to apply

Applications should be received no later than 12/01/2024 including all required documents.

All applications should be submitted via

The application will ask you to specify funding options - please enter ESRC WGSSS studentship in Environmental Planning so we can identify your application from other funding opportunities.

As well as the pathway requirements, please include the following documents with your application:

1) Cover letter (two pages maximum)

The cover letter must include the following bullet points as subheadings:

  • Set out your reasons and motivation for applying to study at Aberystwyth University, and the Environmental Planning pathway.
  • Please detail your understanding, and expectations of doctoral study.
  • Provide detail of your academic interests generally, and particularly of those relating to your proposed research.
  • Drawing on your own background (including your life experiences, journey to/through university, work experiences or volunteering) please provide a summary of why you are ready to undertake a PhD now and how you will flourish as a result of PhD funding. You might include, for example, personal challenges that you have overcome or achievements that you are proud of in your work, study or life experiences and how these map onto the skills required to flourish in a PhD programme. Challenges could include, but are not limited to, protected characteristics, socio-economic status and of being a prospective first-generation student or care- experienced.
  • Reflecting on your own background and/or proposed approach to PhD study and the opportunities which it will present, how will you support diversity and inclusion in the PhD community?

2) Academic CV (two pages maximum)

3) Research proposal - Please upload as a supporting document to the application

The proposal should be up to a maximum of 1000 words, not including bibliographic references. We suggest that you use the following five headings in your research proposal:

  • Title, aims and purpose of the research;
  • Brief overview of the academic literature relevant to your field;
  • Proposed design/methods;
  • Academic contributions of your research.
  • Bibliographic References

4) Two academic or professional references

Candidates must approach referees themselves and include references with their application. The reference must detail the applicant’s research strengths.

5) Degree certificates and Transcripts (including translations if applicable)

6) If relevant, proof of English Language Competency (see institutional requirements for entry)


The studentship funded by the ESRC covers tuition fees, an annual tax-free living stipend of in line with UKRI minimum rates (currently £18,622) and includes access to a Research Training Support Grant.

If you have a disability, you may be entitled to a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) on top of your studentship