National Productivity Investment Fund Context


Following on from the Spring Budget announcement, the Government have provided £90 million funding for an additional 1,000 PhD places for 2017/18 as part of their National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF). Each studentship will align to one of the NPIF’s nine strategic themes identified in the Industrial Strategy, namely:

o Bioscience and biotechnology
o Leading edge healthcare and medicine
o Manufacturing processes and materials of the future
o Smart, flexible and clean energy technologies
o Quantum technologies
o Robotics and artificial intelligence
o Satellites and space technologies
o Transformative digital technologies
o Technologies for the Creative Industries
The 3D3 consortium is delighted to have been awarded 12 studentships under this scheme. These studentships present the opportunity for 3D3 to establish an interdisciplinary Design Futures Lab that will reshape industrial technologies and processes through embedded practice-based research. The Design Futures Lab will enable interdisciplinary collaboration, recruiting arts-based students from a range of backgrounds to work with industry and research leaders from Arts, Creative Industries, Technology, Business and Health.


Scope of the Award


As with all of our 3D3 doctoral studentships, the NPIF studentships comprise tuition fees at Home/EU rates and, for UK award holders, a maintenance award (£14,553 per year) tenable for a minimum period of 3 academic years. EU students are welcome to apply, but are eligible for tuition fees only. We also welcome applications for part-time studentships (which will be 50% pro-rata).


The period of studentship can be extended by undertaking a work placement, arts residency or internship. Please note that all full-time candidates must submit their thesis within 4 years (7 years for part-time candidates), regardless of the length of funding. 3D3 students will have expenses reimbursed related to attendance at the Centre’s residential research training workshops (when these do not take place at their home institution), and access to a discretionary fund to help pay for items such as attendance at external conferences and symposia, archival visits and so on.


Eligibility for PhD Studentships


•  NPIF 3D3 PhD studentships are only open to UK and EU applicants who wish to apply for of the projects outlined here, to be based at Falmouth University, Plymouth University or UWE Bristol.
• You may apply to study either full-time or part-time.

• Students who are currently registered for a PhD programme are not eligible to apply for these awards.

• Successful applicants will normally have achieved at least a 2:1 or equivalent in a relevant first degree and demonstrate their potential for practice-led research through a master’s qualification and/or through alternative evidence of research aptitude.

• Applicants require a recognised English language qualification. The minimum entry requirement is GCSE English at grade C or above or IELTS score 7.0 or TOEFL score 600 (or demonstrable equivalent).

• Awards may not be deferred and must be taken in the next academic year.
PhD Studentship Selection Criteria
The following criteria will be taken into account when awarding NPIF 3D3 doctoral studentships:

• The strength of your academic profile, as demonstrated through previous study and/or a body of practice. (Please note that under AHRC criteria, candidates are normally expected to have gained a masters degree prior to taking up the studentship, although exceptions are possible).

• The quality, invention and viability of your research proposal.

• The match of your research proposal to the profile, supervisory expertise, resources and environment of the 3D3 consortium in general and the proposed institution and research unit, in particular.
Applying for a PhD Studentship
To apply for a PhD studentship, you must use the application form specific to the 3D3 Centre for Doctoral Training. You can download this form below.

General AHRC studentship guidelines can also be downloaded below. Please read these carefully and ensure that you adhere to the character limits and provide any supplementary material that is required. Applicants who exceed the character limit of Section 7 of the application form will be disqualified from the competition.

All application forms and supplementary application materials must be sent to

Applications that do not arrive by 5 pm on 1st September 2017 will not be considered.

The 3D3 co-ordinator at UWE Bristol will send your application to the relevant institution where it will be considered in detail by the staff who are potential supervisors. If your application is considered to be high quality and can be adequately supervised, you will be invited to interview in September.

Supplementary Material

In addition to your application form, and at the same time, you will need to submit some additional documents and material. These include a CV (3 pages maximum), evidence of your English language qualifications (if you do not have a degree from a UK institution), a sample of critical writing (3000 words maximum), and evidence of your ability to undertake the practice-led research you are proposing (e.g. a DVD, portfolio, links to website, reviews, catalogue, etc.). You also must enclose an Equal Opportunities monitoring form (which you can download below).

Please note that no other supplementary material will be considered by the studentship selection panel (e.g. an extended proposal or personal statement/covering letter or essays/theses over 3000 words).


You will also need to arrange for two references to arrive by the application deadline (1 September 2017). You can download a reference form below (please fill in the top section and send it to your referees to complete). These must be sent directly to by your referees, and not attached to your application.
Key Dates
1 September 2017: Deadline for studentship applications

TBC September 2017: Interview invitations sent to shortlisted candidates*

TBC September 2017: Interviews held in Bristol at University of the West of England

TBC September 2017: Awards Announced

TBC September 2017: Deadline for accepting award

1 October 2017:  Studentships begin (please note that some induction events may take place in late September)

*Please note that by submitting an application you are confirming your availability to attend an interview


Deadline: 5pm on 1 September 2017

Applications after this time will not be considered