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Cambridge NERC Doctoral Training Partnerships

Graduate Research Opportunities

Dear Students

On behalf of the NERC DTP, we hope that you are well during this unsettled time. We know that concern for the progress of your studentship will sit alongside concern for the health of you and your family and friends, and concern about the future in general.  We hope the following guide will answer some of the questions you may have about your DTP studentship.

As the advice around COVID-19 and the closure of University facilities continues to evolve, the links below should point you to the most up-to-date information:

For offer holders:

As of July 2020 many departments with C-CLEAR students are opening laboratories for research, but you should discuss with your supervisor how the restrictions that remain may affect your research. We are planning to deliver most of our usual training activities from October, although some may be delivered online.

For current students:

In addition to the above, the DTP has produced a short FAQ below. If you can’t find the information you’re looking for please do get in touch. The DTP team is working from home but available via email:

Yvonne Gibbs, DTP Administrator:

Kathleen McDougall, DTP Training Facilitator:

Frequently Asked Questions

Homeworking for students

Can I work on my research from home?

Although we recognise that you have all been disrupted, we hope that most of you can fill a period of weeks to months with productive work, even if you are missing laboratory or fieldwork. We encourage you to discuss with your supervisor a plan for the closure period, which might include literature review, training (the DTP will send updates about what courses will be made available remotely), data analysis, writing introduction and method chapters you had planned to do later, planning future work and other activities.

If you were expecting to carry out fieldwork, now is the time to talk to your supervisor about potential fall-backs – how you would rearrange your work to allow the field studies to come later than expected, and in the worst case what material collected previously (perhaps by earlier students or collaborators) you can use.

Your department has probably advised those of you relocating over the closure to apply for leave to work away from Cambridge to the end of June.  Doing so relieves you of residency requirements and ensures you will continue as a registered student.

Update June 2020: While the default position remains that students should continue to work from home, departments are beginning to reopen in a staggered fashion and permission is being granted for some postgraduate research students to re-enter University buildings to continue their research. Please see the Protocol for Return of Postgraduate Research Students. Postgraduate research students who have been granted permission to return, and who also plan to stay in College accommodation or use College facilities, should see the Guidance for Research Students with Permission to Return to College.

 What if I don’t have a suitable set up to work from home?

If you lack the equipment necessary to work productively from home, please contact your department or college in the first instance, and the DTP in the second instance.


Will I still get my NERC DTP funding while the University is closed?

You should still receive your maintenance payments as usual. Please note that these are processed by your home department.

Your fees will also continue to be paid directly by the department.

What if my progress is being significantly impacted by COVID-19?

While some of you will be able to work well at home, and won’t need an extension to your submission date, extensions may be available in severe cases where the pandemic has prevented you from progressing.

UKRI has announced funding extensions of up to six months for final year students (defined as those with funding end dates between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021) who are impacted by COVID-19. The DTP has been in touch with this group of students to process their extension requests.

NERC has also requested information on how and to what extent COVID-19 has disrupted the PhD work of students with submission dates after 31 March 2021. NERC has not yet made any commitment to fund extensions for this group of students; we expect them to make a decision about perhaps in the autumn, once the fuller extent of the impact is known. We are very uncertain as to the likelihood of NERC providing these funds; we strongly recommend you don’t rely on this possibility. We would urge students to adjust plans for the PhD where possible, and also keep a log of the disruption caused by COVID-19.