Selection process

What are we looking for in a SWBio DTP student?

Undertaking a PhD is an opportunity to continue your passion and curiosity into a research area you are interested in.  You will be part of an experienced research group working on cutting-edge world-class bioscience, discovering the unknown that could impact society and the economy.  Taking forward your project, you will grow in your independence as a researcher, using independent thought and problem-solving to navigate your research.  As part of your training not only will you gain and improve in desirable research skills, but you will also acquire many transferrable skills, paving the way to be agile across a wide variety of career sectors.

Although there are many positives and great reward in doing a PhD, it is important to be aware that it is a long and intensive project (4 years), which will often be challenging.  As such motivation, resilience, adaptability, and time management are all critical skills that you will need to rely on throughout your PhD.

The SWBio DTP programme will provide a supportive and inclusive environment with access to facilities, multi-institutional networks and expertise that will provide you with the building blocks and insights to help you to succeed in whatever career you decide to pursue after your PhD.

As part of our DTP interview day, we will be assessing through 3 main areas (all equally weighted).  These are your:

  • Research experience/other relevant experience (including employment) – these can be demonstrated both within and outside an academic environment 
  • Understanding of project – including awareness of techniques/methods 
  • Motivation and commitment - to the project

Key attributes we consider important for a PhD student include.

  • Time managementability to manage your time effectively
  • Critical awareness/independent thinkerability to analyse information using own judgement
  • Resilienceability to maintain motivation when encountering project challenges
  • Team workingability to work with others as well as contribute to overall results of the team
  • Adaptabilityability to adjust your approach when needed
  • Problem-solvingability to consider different approaches to solving problems
  • Motivation and commitmentto the PhD and SWBio DTP programme
  • Presentation skillshow you present and deliver your presentation. As well as conveying information effectively to an academic audience across a range of bioscience disciplines 
  • Communicating effectivelythe ability to respond to interview questions clearly and concisely

Please click on the titles above to view the information.

Worried you may not have enough hands on research experience? 

You do not need to as our interview selection process focuses on researcher potential rather than research experience.

We do this as part of your DTP interview day when assessing your:

  • Performance at interview – by asking you to present your future PhD project rather than a past research project.
  • Researcher potential – recognising the importance of key attributes (which can be acquired through non-research routes)
  • Skills fit to project – 1. recognising that you can gain these skills through other relevant experience (e.g. employment); 2.not assessing you in this area just on your experience, but also taking into consideration both your understanding and motivation/commitment to the project; 3. not needing a Masters to apply to the programme.

Supervisors are also empowered to promote candidates from all backgrounds and levels of experience, and normally all supervisor-selected first choice candidates are guaranteed an interview by the DTP (subject to meeting the minimum academic criteria).

Selection process

The studentship selection process will take place in two stages.  A candidate needs to be successful at both stages of the selection process to be considered for the award of a studentship. 

The project supervisors will first consider your application (focusing on eligibility and your skills fit to project (refer above)) and then invite you to an interview for applications that are successful where you can expect the interview questions to be mainly based around the 3 areas listed above. These may take place virtually or in-person.

You can apply for more than one project, although supervisors may take in to account your interest and commitment to their particular project.  Each application for an individual project will be considered separately by the project supervisors.

After the application deadline, each supervisory team will then put forward two ranked nominations (a first-choice and a reserve). Normally all first-choice nominations will be invited for an interview at a DTP interview day, subject to meeting the minimum academic criteria. Reserve candidates may also be invited for interview at a DTP interview day, but this is subject to the number of first-choice nominations that are invited for interview/have accepted their interview invite.

As part of the interview, applicants will be asked to make a short research presentation. Candidates can expect to be questioned by the interview panel on their research presentation and in the areas of the key competencies listed above. In addition to the interview, there will also be a written-based exercise to complete. 

Instructions related to the interview day and written-based exercise will normally be provided at least 2 weeks in advance of the respective interview day.

Please click on the titles above to view the information.

DTP interview day

If you are successful and invited to interview, you must be available to attend the relevant DTP interview day.   

  • Standard DTP Studentships with Associate Partner / CASE DTP Studentships – Interviews will be held at the University of Bristol, with a selection panel composed of academics from across the partnership.
Interview Date Type of studentship
Thursday 1 February 2024
Friday 2 February 2024
CASE DTP Studentships
Monday 12 February 2024 Standard DTP Studentships with Associate Partner
  • Standard DTP Studentships – Interviews will be held at the institution where the studentship you applied to will be hosted, with a selection panel composed of academics within that institution.
Interview Date Institution
Monday 5 February 2024 Bath
Wednesday 31 January 2024
Wednesday 7 February 2024
Friday 9 February 2024
Thursday 14 February 2024
Thursday 15 February 2024 Cardiff
Tuesday 13 February 2024
Wednesday 14 February 2024
Tuesday 6 February 2024 Rothamsted