1+3 and +3 Open Studentship Competition- the application process

The LISS DTP 1+3 and +3 Open studentship competition for October 2020 entry is now open with a deadline of 31 January 2020, 17:00 GMT.

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The steps below will guide you through the application process for either the 1+3 (Master’s + PhD) or +3 (PhD only) award format. 

Please read the ESRC’s residency requirements for studentships to determine whether you are eligible for an award before you start the application process.  If you have been classed as ‘overseas’ or ‘international’ for fees purposes by the institution you are applying for admission to, you will not be eligible.  With few exceptions, those eligible are: UK citizens who have been resident in the UK for the past 3 years or those with indefinite leave to remain in the UK.  The ESRC only cover fees for EU applicants, but LISS DTP will endeavor to provide stipend funding to successful EU applicants through institutional money, budget dependent.  EU applicants can apply either direct from their own EU country or from the UK (if they are already an existing student in the UK or are living/working in the UK).   Please note: at this point, LISS DTP is NOT relaxing eligibility requirements for international students working with advanced quantitative methods or in economics.  Please check with other ESRC DTPs for their policies.

In view of the limited number of awards and the very high standard of applications received, successful applicants are likely to have a very good first degree (BA or BSc Honours or equivalent, at 1st class standard or upper 2nd with clear evidence of first class work), and for +3 awards, also an appropriate Masters degree (at distinction or at least high merit level). Other qualifications highly relevant to the proposed area of study, such as prior professional or work-related expertise, may also be considered.  Please note that:

  • Students who will have already undertaken more than 1 year of their full-time MPhil/PhD research degree programme (or more than 2 years at part-time status) by the time their studentship would start (1 October each year) are not eligible.
  • Professional doctorate degrees are not eligible.
  • Distance learning programmes are not eligible.
  • Applicants who have already been awarded a PhD or equivalent degree are not eligible.

You should apply for either a 1+3 OR a +3 studentship; DO NOT apply for both formats. 

Deciding whether to apply for a 1+3 or +3 studentship will depend on three things:

1) Do you already have a Masters degree?  If not, you should apply for a 1+3 studentship and simultaneously apply for the Masters programme you wish to undertake at the institution of your choice.  Look at the LISS DTP Thematic Pathways webpages to determine a Masters programme that best fits your research interests.  If you are interested in a Masters programme that is not listed under a LISS Thematic Pathway, please contact liss-dtp@kcl.ac.uk to confirm that it falls within LISS DTP’s research remit and contains the required amount of core social science methods training.  Please refer to the Core Training Requirements page to better understand the kind of well-rounded social science training expected by the ESRC for its funded students.  If your Masters programme of choice covers some but not all of these core training elements within its module options, the LISS DTP team will work with you to ensure that you receive all necessary training if you are awarded a studentship.

2)  Is your existing Masters degree in a significantly different field of study from your proposed doctoral project?  Please consult your proposed academic supervisor and LISS DTP staff (liss-dtp@kcl.ac.uk) if you are unsure of this.  If the change in fields of study is significant, you should also apply for a 1+3 studentship and follow the process mentioned above, choosing and applying for a relevant Masters programme at the institution of your choice to gain the necessary background knowledge to then undertake your PhD.

3) For a limited number of doctoral programmes affiliated with certain LISS DTP Pathways, a MRes degree is required for entry onto the doctorate.  If this is the case for your doctoral programme of choice, you should apply for a 1+3 studentship to cover the MRes plus PhD degrees.  Please note: your MPhil year is generally considered to be the first year of your doctoral degree (before your upgrade process).  You should not apply for a 1+3 degree to cover a MPhil year.


If you have a Masters degree in a relevant discipline to your proposed doctoral research:

If you already have a Masters degree in a relevant research area to your proposed doctoral project and there are no MRes requirements for your doctorate of choice, you should apply for a +3 studentship, provided that your Masters degree has provided training in approx. 75% or more of the Core Training Requirements specified by the ESRC.  On the +3 Studentship application form, you will be asked to outline your existing research methods training, gained from past academic study, work or professional experience.  If, after reviewing the Core Training Requirements page, you feel that you cannot demonstrate on your application form that you have covered at least 75% of what is outlined, please contact liss-dtp@kcl.ac.uk to receive guidance on whether you will be able to ‘top up’ your existing training in the first year of your doctoral programme or whether you will be required to undertake additional Masters level study (apply for a 1+3 award).

On the application form you will be asked which LISS DTP Thematic Pathway your work is most closely affiliated with.  This does not have to be a perfect fit, but you can use the descriptions on those pages and the content of the linked Masters programmes as a guide.

Please simultaneously apply for the doctoral programme in the institution and department/research centre/institute that best fits your research interests.  This should be where your primary supervisor is based.

1+3 and +3 studentships awarded as part of LISS DTP’s Open competition are applicant-generated, ie. there is not an existing project catalog created by academics from which to choose a project.  You need to develop a general sense of the research project you want to pursue and then approach an academic at one of our three partner institutions to see if they will act as your supervisor and help you to refine your project idea as necessary.  As you’ll see from our application forms, if you are applying for a 1+3 award you are not expected to have as fully-formed a research proposal as someone who is applying for a +3 award and already has a Masters degree.

Staff bios on departmental websites are a good place to start to find academics who share your research interests.  You can also approach academics within departments who are designated as ‘PGR or PhD tutors’ or administrative staff responsible for PGRs.  It is relevant to do this even if you’re applying for a 1+3 award and will need to undertake a Masters first because a condition of a 1+3 award is that you’ll continue immediately into a PhD programme after your Masters is completed.  It’s therefore strongly advised that you choose a supervisor for your Masters degree/thesis who will continue to act as a PhD supervisor for you.

If you will be undertaking a Masters programme, you can also look at the modules on the Masters programme for which you’re applying: who teaches those modules?  Those academics are likely well-placed to supervise or suggest colleagues with similar interests who might be willing to supervise your project.

To apply for a 1+3 or +3 studentship with LISS DTP, you must simultaneously undertake the online admissions process required to join a Masters or a doctoral programme of your choice at King’s College London, Queen Mary University of London or Imperial College.  

The deadline for 1+3 and +3 LISS DTP studentship application forms is 31 January 2020, and we will be gathering your admissions information from each central administration immediately after this date.  Therefore, it’s essential that your admissions application to your degree programme of choice has been submitted by this point and that all your transcripts and at least 2 references are included with it.

Missing transcripts detract from the strength of your application with review panels.  We therefore advise that you include an interim transcript to show your progress to date if you are currently in study when you complete a LISS DTP application.  If this is not possible, we recommend that one of your references be an academic or supervisor from your current degree who can speak to your progress/predicted results on this degree.  If you are applying for a +3 (PhD only) studentship and currently hold both Masters and undergraduate degrees, we would expect to see transcripts for both degrees, not just your most recent one.  Degree certificates are not acceptable; we need to receive transcripts with your module names/credits/grades listed on them.  We do not do translation work, so if your transcripts are in a language other than English please have them translated.  It is your responsibility to ensure that your admissions application and all related material for it are available to us on time.  Given that there is usually a 1-2 week time lag to collect references via the online systems, we therefore strongly advise that you complete your admissions application by mid-January at the latest and follow up with the referees you list to ensure that they have submitted a reference for you by 31 January.  We do not chase missing references or transcripts for your admissions application.

Please check your individual degree programme deadlines, as they may be earlier than the LISS DTP one, and ensure that you meet those as well.

Students who have already applied for admissions and those who have applied in the previous academic year but have deferred entry will not be required to submit an institutional admissions application again.  Current 1st year doctoral students are not required to submit a new admissions application.  Your primary supervisor will still need to complete a supervisor reference form on your behalf for your LISS DTP application.

In the section of your institutional admissions application labelled ‘Funding’, please indicate that you are applying for ESRC studentship funding.

Apply to a King’s College London Masters or PhD programme.

Apply to a Queen Mary University of London Masters or PhD programme.

Apply to an Imperial College London Masters or PhD programme.

The student application form and supervisor statement form for our Open competition (1+3 and +3 formats) need to be completed and submitted via the Jisc Online Survey online system.  Links to the online forms for both studentship formats are available on our main Studentships page (under the Open Competition 1+3 and +3 tab).

Please make sure to read each question carefully and use the ‘extra info’ menu for each to be linked to more information.  We strongly recommend that you consult with your proposed primary supervisor, who will provide a supporting statement for you, before starting the online form and prepare all the materials you need to answer the questions in advance of starting to work on the form.  PDFs listing all the questions that you will be asked for each application form are available near the application links on our Studentship page (under the Open competition 1+3 and +3 tab) so that you can prepare necessary answers in advance, adhering to character limits.

Once you start the online form, data you enter WILL NOT be saved unless you click the ‘Finish later’ link at the bottom of the form page where you are working.

If you click on the ‘Finish later’ link (at the bottom of each form page) you will be taken to a page giving the application form’s closing date and a ‘finish later’ URL.  You can use this URL to return to the application at the page on which you clicked the ‘Finish later’ link.  You can either bookmark the URL in your browser, or ask for the URL to be emailed to you.  It is your responsibility to accurately enter your email address or bookmark the ‘finish later’ link to be able to resume the survey.  LISS DTP cannot reunite you with your unfinished application if you have lost your ‘Finish later’ link.

Once you reach the end of the online form, please read the ‘declaration page’ carefully before hitting the ‘Submit’ link. Your proposed primary supervisor should complete the appropriate ‘supervisor statement form’. Should they ask to see a copy of your completed application, please ensure you redact your form to exclude any equality and diversity data before you circulate to your supervisory team. Links to the statement forms can be found on the Studentships page.

Supervisors must be submit their statement form by the deadline of 31 January 2020, 17:00 GMT. This form will be linked to your application form and your central admissions data to create a complete LISS DTP application.

Links to the online application forms for 1+3 and +3 LISS DTP studentships and links to access the online ‘Supervisor Statement Forms’ are available on our Studentships page.

Once the 31 January 2020 deadline has passed, the LISS DTP office will gather admissions materials and record the details of all applications received.  The LISS team will also check the eligibility of all applicants and double-check the assignment of each applicant to the appropriate Thematic Pathway.  You will be notified by email approximately a week after the submission deadline to acknowledge whether we have received all necessary materials for your application to proceed.  Eligible application forms, reference forms and admissions application material will then be appended together and circulated to relevant selection panels, organised for each LISS DTP Research Area (groups of thematic Pathways), for review, marking and ranking.

All results will be announced via email in the first instance.  Eligible applicants who have been considered for a studentship will be informed of the outcome in the week beginning Monday 6 April 2020.

Candidates who have been selected for a studentship will be asked to accept/decline it by a given deadline.  If a successful candidate fails to respond by the deadline or declines the offer, their award will automatically be transferred to a reserve candidate who is next in line for the award.