Studying for a PhD with the EPSRC CDT in Aerosol Science
Frequently Asked Questions

The FAQs below are grouped into three headings, designed to provide you with the answers you need to some commonly-asked questions, but if you wish to ask anything further, please do not hesitate to contact us at 

Applying for a Studentship

What’s the process for applying and when do I need to apply?

Apply online via our online application form. We encourage early applications.

Shortlisting will take place at regular intervals in December – April of the academic year prior to starting a PhD in September. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to participate in the online recruitment and interview process, where you will meet members of the CDT, learn a little more about aerosols and have opportunities to ask questions. You will also take part in a team-based activity to enable you to try out the innovative team-based learning methods used in training.


What are the CDT looking for when shortlisting candidates to participate in the recruitment process?

After ensuring candidates meet academic entry requirements, applications are shortlisted based on the 250-word description of their past experience and how that has prepared them for a PhD in Aerosol Science.

You should describe in 250 words or less, the ways in which you feel that your academic, scientific, paid employment, voluntary and/or other experience have prepared you to conduct research in your preferred area(s) with the CDT.

Shortlisting academics do not see any personal information such as candidate name or previous institutions.


When do I need to specify a PhD project and supervisor? When I apply?

After shortlisting and assessment, candidates will be typically asked to express a preference for three PhD projects. You will then have the opportunity to learn more about these projects, meeting with potential supervisors . You will then have the opportunity to refine your choice.


Should I include supporting documents (e.g. CV, references transcripts) ?

Supporting documents, references or CV are not requested at initial application stage, but will be required later in the process e.g. at interview or to make a candidate an offer. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to participate in two online assessments. After these assessments, when a supervisor would like to make a PhD offer to a candidate, the candidate then applies via the formal online application system of the supervisor’s institution (e.g. via the official Birmingham system if the PhD is based at Birmingham) and at this stage you will also need to provide your documents, references etc, in order to receive an official offer from that University.


What areas of aerosol science could my PhD be part of?

The areas of aerosol science that the CDT works in include:
• Basic aerosol processes (e.g. microphysics of aerosol processes, fundamental science, aerosol
• Aerosols and health (e.g. disease transmission, drug delivery to the lungs)
• Aerosol technology (e.g. novel materials and particle synthesis using aerosols, combustion
• Aerosol measurement techniques (e.g. optical techniques, novel measurement methods)
• Atmospheric and environmental aerosols (e.g. air quality, climate change)


What degree do I need to apply?

The breadth of aerosol science means we are looking for applicants from a broad range of backgrounds. You just should aspire to work in a multidisciplinary field and have an undergraduate background in any of the following areas: chemistry, physics, biological sciences, life and medical sciences, mathematics and computer science, chemical and mechanical engineering, pharmaceutical and environmental sciences.

Depending on the subject area, applicants must hold/achieve a minimum of an upper second-class MSci or BSc honours degree, or equivalent, in one of the areas named above.


What criteria are used during CDT assessment?

During recruitment you will be invited to join two assessment discussions with CDT academics, each 20 minutes long. In Assessment A, you will meet online with two supervisors from your preferred projects. You will be invited to prepare a short presentation on a research project you have participated in. This may be for example a final-year undergraduate project. The academics will listen and have a conversation with you around your presentation.

For Assessment B, we will usually first invite you to join an online team-based exercise. Depending on the recruitment cycle, we may instead ask you to complete the exercise individually. Shortly afterwards, you will meet online with two CDT academics for Assessment B. They will ask you to reflect on your experiences of the exercise. They will also explore with you your broader perspectives on studying for a PhD.


When will I know if my application is successful?

Shortlisting will take place every 3-4 weeks between December and April, or until a full cohort of students has been recruited. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to undertake a recruitment and assessment process. Following this process, we will write to you to let you know if we can offer you a studentship. You then formally apply via the application system of the home institution of the supervisor of the recruiting project, so that a formal offer can be made. We aim to match all candidates with supervisors for final recruitment by the end of March/April although some recruitment may inevitably carry on into early summer.


What EDI considerations are in place during the recruitment process?

The CDT is committed to furthering issues of equality, diversity and inclusion and we are keen to attract individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds. We recognise the benefits of recruiting a diverse group of students to the Aerosol Science  CDT and strive to avoid any conscious or unconscious bias in our recruitment. 

We invite all shortlisted candidates to tell us if they have any individual needs to participate in the recruitment process and we commit to act inclusively in accommodating these, by making reasonable adjustments to the interview process.


Why does the CDT ask applicants to complete a demographic survey?

 The monitoring of applications by our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) committee allows us to assess the effectiveness and fairness of all stages of our recruitment procedures. The information you provide  will be kept independently of your expression of interest and will not be made available to those involved in decisions about applications. Find out more about our commitment to diversity monitoring and protecting your data.


Information for overseas applicants (EU and International)

What are the entry requirements for overseas candidates?

Overseas candidates applying to the CDT should check they meet the University of Bristol admissions criteria below. At CDT application stage, the University of Bristol requirements below can act a guide for meeting the entrance requirements of CDT partner universities, which can be found on their websites.

International equivalent qualifications (Choose your country from the list and follow the guidance for ‘postgraduate’):

The University of Bristol English Language requirement is ‘Profile F’:

We ask that you hold your English language qualification at the appropriate level before we can make your offer.


What funding is available for overseas students?

The funding eligibility of overseas students can depend on the way in which an individual project is funded. From 2021 our funding (from the UKRI / EPSRC) now allows us to offer up to 30% of our UKRI studentship awards to overseas students. For this to happen, the University offering the PhD needs to agree to waive the international portion of the fee down to the same level as a home fee. Some of our CDT partner universities have a clearer route for this than others, and we are working together on improving this.

Overseas candidates funded by the CDT will receive a studentship paid at the standard UKRI rate (see below)

The First Year of Your PhD

What funding will I receive?

Each studentship includes tuition fees, Research and Training Support Grant (RTSG) and a stipend to cover your living costs while you complete your PhD. You will receive funding for four years at the level of the typical UKRI stipend. See indicative levels at:

The terms & conditions of your UKRI CDT training grant funding can be viewed at:


Where do I live in the first year?

All of the training in the first two teaching blocks (early September to end of April) will be hosted at the CDT hub at the University of Bristol. During this time, you will have the opportunity if you wish to live in postgraduate accommodation at the University of Bristol paying only for the period you are in residence (not the full academic year). After this (late April or early May), you will likely move to your home institution, finding accommodation for the rest of your PhD study.


What if my Thematic Broadening Sabbatical is not in my home institution or at University of Bristol?

You may undertake a Thematic Broadening Sabbatical (TBS) during May-July of the first year at an institution that is not your home institution. In many instances, this may be in a neighbouring institution allowing you to commute (The CDT will pay your travel costs). In some instances, you may choose to undertake this short project in Bristol or Bath, in which case you can remain in your accommodation in Bristol. For a small number of projects, you may choose to undertake your TBS in a third institution far removed from Bristol or your home institution (e.g. if your home institution is Manchester and your TBS is in Cambridge). In these instances, we will help you find short-term accommodation near the institution hosting your TBS.


What training do I complete in the first year?

Aerosol science is unlikely to be something you have any training in from your undergraduate study. You will bring your particular specialist knowledge (for example from your undergraduate degree) to your study and train in a multidisciplinary team, benefiting from the breadth of expertise across the team. You will receive training in core aerosol science, (1/3 of first-year training), giving you all of the background you need for your PhD and to be an agile researcher in the future. You will also receive training in Computational & Data Tools, Environment & Communication (e.g. in responsible innovation, environmental sustainability and public engagement) and Impact & Translation (e.g. in innovation and enterprise, and regulation and policy). The Thematic Broadening Sabbatical makes up the final component of the third year.


When do I start my PhD research?

The Thematic Broadening Sabbatical will represent the first steps in your PhD journey, giving you an opportunity to learn techniques and get some publishable results in an area of aerosol science complementing your main PhD project. After formally progressing to the PhD in about month 11 of your first year, you will be working fully on your PhD project.


Years 2 to 4 and the longer-term

What are the other benefits of doing a PhD with the CDT in Aerosol Science?

You will continue to participate in the CDT’s network throughout your PhD, hopefully forming a network that will be of benefit in your future career. Throughout your PhD, you will have a weekly opportunity to listen to a webinar (a research seminar broadcast online) presented by leading researchers from around the world. You will also continue to work with your peers, supporting each other’s progress through thematic research groups and contributing to a journal club. You will attend the annual CDT conference and summer schools each year in specialist areas of aerosol science.


What mentoring will I receive?

You will receive mentoring from your PhD project supervisor, the academic co-supervisor who will host your Thematic Broadening Sabbatical, and an industrial partner, giving you a perspective on aerosol science outside academia. During Year 2 or 3, you will have the opportunity to go on placement to
work with the industrial partner.


Will I get an opportunity to meet with industry and potential employers?

Yes! The CDT is working with around 80 partners ranging from large multinational companies to small spin outs, and public sector bodies to national research labs. You will have an opportunity to meet these partners at CDT events and through your placement, and will hear about career opportunities and vacancies.


Will I be able to meet and network with researchers outside the CDT?

Yes! You will participate in a broad range of activities organised by the Aerosol Society of the UK and Ireland each year, including their annual conference and focus meetings on specific topics. See:

You will also have the opportunity to attend international conferences and training events

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EPSRC CDT in Aerosol Science

University of Bristol
School of Chemistry
Cantock's Close
Bristol, BS8 1TS

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