SeNSS offers two supervisor-led competitions:

  • A collaborative competition for ESRC-funded studentships and,

  • A competition for a SeNSS and ARIES Doctoral Training Partnerships jointly funded ESRC-NERC studentship (for further details, please scroll down this page).



Examples of funded proposals

These are some of the six collaborative studentships which were awarded for the 2018/19 academic year, and you can see our awarded proposals for 2019/20 on our student competition pages. Collaborative studentships typically offer very strong pathways to research impact, and offer students first-hand experience of a non-academic research environment.

A research project within the Psychology Pathway at Royal Holloway is partnered with TRL, the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory. It aims to identify and examine factors influencing situation awareness when a human operator needs to take remote control over a driverless car when a problem arises, preventing the vehicle from navigating independently.

An Economics research project at Royal Holloway is being conducted in collaboration with OECD, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, in Paris. The project specifically focuses on how the interaction of an ageing population and increased automation alters the supply and demand of skills in the working age population.

A Linguistics academic, at the University of Reading, is carrying out a research project in collaboration with the Hampshire Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service. This project aims to compare Young Interpreters and children not on the Young Interpreters Scheme on linguistic features and linguistic and intercultural awareness. They will also investigate Young Interpreters’ and their teachers’ experiences of their participation in the scheme.

The annual SeNSS supervisor-led collaborative competition for funded studentships starting in October 2020 will be opening in June. The deadline for primary supervisors to submit their applications via FluidReview (the SeNSS online document management system) for a collaborative studentship is 12.00 pm BST on 23 September 2019.


What is this competition for?

In this competition, you - the primary supervisor - develop a research question and proposal in conjunction with a collaborative partner, and apply to SeNSS for one of 6 ring-fenced collaborative studentships to work on this proposal with you. You will be advised of the competition outcome by end of October 2019. If your research proposal has been successful, we will help you organise a competition, to run between November and March 2020, to identify a suitable candidate for this studentship, to start work with you in October 2020. 

Who can be a collaborative partner? 

Any non-Higher Education Institution (non-HEI), that is, a business, government or third sector organization. Your collaborative partner must make a financial or in-kind contribution to the studentship. We strongly encourage you to seek a financial contribution (up to a maximum of 50%), as this may count in your favour in the competition.

What research proposals are eligible?

Your research proposal must be based primarily in one of the 13 SeNSS Pathways - for a list of these, please go to the "About" webpage on this site. You can only enter this competition if your home institution is a member of the Pathway for which you wish to submit an application.

What are the criteria for this competition?

The assessment criteria are available in our detailed "Supervisor Guide" (see page 12). Basically, your competition entry will be judged on the quality of your research proposal and your collaboration, the suitability of your project for a studentship, and the quality of the student training you will offer.

How can I submit a proposal?

Contact your home institution's SeNSS administrative lead (see our "Contacts" webpage), who will provide you with access to FluidReview, which is now open for proposals. The deadline for submitting an application via FluidReview is 12:00 BST, 23 September 2019.

Is there any additional guidance for this competition?

An updated Supervisors Guide for the competition this year with detailed advice, including a full timeline for this competition, can be found here "Supervisor's Guide



Can I bid for a 4-year studentship, or only a +3 studentship?

Both types of studentship are available. However, if your bid is for a 1+3, then the Masters degree must be one of our approved Masters. a careful training plan will need to be created to address the specific training needs in this area.


SeNSS, ARIES, ESRC, NERC logos.jpg


SeNSS has teamed up with the ARIES Doctoral Training Partnership, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, to jointly fund a studentship. One ring-fenced studentship will be available each year from 2019 to 2022, and these will alternate each year between being NERC-ARIES led and ESRC-SeNSS led. This year’s competition is led by SeNSS.

Our successful applicant will be working on an interdisciplinary project, sited at the boundaries of NERC and ESRC research, and will have the opportunity to access training and other benefits from across both the SeNSS and ARIES consortia.


There are four phases to the competition:

  1. SeNSS and ARIES academics develop a doctoral research proposal, which must fall within one or more of the 13 SeNSS disciplinary pathways, as well as within one of the 5 ARIES research themes. CASE projects and collaborative projects, that is, projects designed and carried out with collaborative partners, are encouraged.

  2. Proposals must be submitted by 23 September 2019, via FluidReview, the SeNSS on-line application management platform, which will be opened for applications on 1 July 2019. Guidance notes providing a brief competition overview, as well as detailed guidance on creating your application using FluidReview are available here.

  3. SeNSS and ARIES peer reviewers select the top three proposals, and the SeNSS core team works with the three supervisory teams to advertise these in November 2019 to those seeking doctoral funding across the UK. Students submit applications in early 2020.

  4. A SeNSS and ARIES selection panel reviews, shortlists and interviews candidates for these three proposals, and offers a studentship to the best candidate. The successful candidate becomes a SeNSS-ARIES doctoral researcher, starting in October 2020. Their project is jointly funded by the ESRC and NERC.


If you would like to see the research projects which were advertised for 2019/20 to get an idea of the kind of research project we are looking for, please scroll through the three supervisor-led projects below.

Delivering Effective Marine Protected Areas – Backing the Blue Belt through Governance Structures

A CASE project with the Marine Management Organisation

Host Institution: University of Essex

Supervisors: Dr Tom Cameron (School of Biological Sciences, University of Essex), Dr Gina Yannitell Reinhardt (Department of Government, University of Essex), and Dr Michelle Taylor (School of Biological Sciences, University of Essex)

CASE Supervisor: Dr Christopher Sweeting (Marine Management Organisation)

Research Project: Environmental sustainability is an important current issue. Marine conservation is key to sustaining our natural and environmental resources. The conservation of marine species such as porpoises and flame shells, or marine features such as seagrass and chalk reefs, often takes place through Marine Protected Areas (MPAs, Lown et al 2018). Some MPAs perform quite well in preserving and sustaining resources, but others perform much worse. Why is that?

Innovative adaptive coastal governance: the Bacton-Walcott Sandscaping Scheme

A CASE project with North Norfolk District Council, collaboration with Royal HaskoningDHV

Host Institution: University of East Anglia

Supervisors: Dr Trevor Tolhurst (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia), Dr Candice Howarth (School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Surrey), and Dr Irene Lorenzoni (School of Environmental Sciences, University of Essex)

Research project: Rising sea levels and other effects of climate change are exacerbating coastal change internationally. Recognition of the benefits of coastal defences that work with natural processes has resulted in a shift towards ‘soft’ coastal protection. What are the benefits, impacts and implications for society?

Finding the Feel-Good Factor: Relating Human Subjective Wellbeing to Biodiversity

A CASE project with Natural England and RSPB

Host Institution: University of Kent

Supervisors: Dr Zoe Davies (Ecology and Conservation, University of Kent), Prof. Jay Mistry (Human Geography, Royal Holloway University of London), Dr Robert Fish (Human Geography, University of Kent), Dr Martin Dallimer (University of Leeds), and Dr. Katherine Irvine (James Hutton Institute)

Case supervisors: Dr Richard Bradbury (RSPB) and Dr Dave Stone (Natural England)

Research project: We live in a time of profound environmental change. Phenomena such as urbanisation and agricultural intensification are degrading ecosystems and decreasing biodiversity. Yet, while it is widely asserted in research, policy and practice arenas that interacting with nature is fundamental to human subjective wellbeing, there is little evidence characterising how biodiversity underpins this accepted truth. This PhD tackles this challenging problem by working across the disciplines of human geography, environmental psychology and ecology.