Science and Technology Facilities Council
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Call for proposals for Global Challenge Studentships – pilot scheme

Call for proposals for Global Challenge Studentships – pilot scheme

Deadline for submitting applications: 4pm on Thursday 4th October 2012


The STFC Futures Programme is making funding available to support around 15 (see note 1) new studentships to undertake research training at the interface between STFC capabilities and the global challenges in energy, the environment, healthcare and security. The scheme will operate as a pilot scheme in the first instance and will be reviewed after the first projects are awarded.

The objectives of the scheme are:

  • To support the transfer of research, expertise and technology from capabilities developed within the STFC national laboratories and STFC grant-funded programmes into the global challenge areas, thereby translating these capabilities into real impact
  • To start to grow a community of interdisciplinary researchers (see note 2) capable of providing global challenge “solutions”

Scope of the call

We welcome high quality proposals addressing any aspect of the global challenges in energy, the environment, healthcare or security. Applicants should ensure that their proposal addresses the priorities of the Futures Programme.

Timetable and peer review

Proposals (in PDF format) should be submitted by email by the deadline of 4pm on Thursday 4th October 2012. Proposals will be reviewed at a meeting of the Futures Advisory Panel on October 24th 2012. Funding decisions will be announced by 30th November.

Universities should complete the financial details by 15th March 2013. Successful projects will be awarded as doctoral training grants (see note 3) starting from 1st October 2013.


Global Challenge Studentships will be awarded to eligible research training institutions as is the case for standard research studentships. For this scheme however, the studentship must have a supervisor from both the global challenge community and the STFC community (see note 4).

It is possible for both supervisors to be located within the same institution. Co-supervisors are required to take part in recruitment and monitoring of the student and to maintain active contact with the student and principal supervisor throughout the period of the studentship.


  1. The final number of studentships supported could be greater than 15, depending on the number of requests that have matched funding from their home institutions or other funders
  2. The nature of each global challenge is such that it is highly unlikely that “solutions” will be found within a single academic discipline. For this pilot scheme the term “interdisciplinary” refers to research that draws upon the disciplines supported by STFC’s astronomy, nuclear physics and particle physics research programmes, the work of its large facilities and national laboratories (which support research in a broad range of physical and life sciences) in addition to disciplines such as environmental science, health research, biological sciences, social sciences and engineering, that are relevant to the global challenges
  3. The doctoral training grant will cover the costs of training the student for a period not exceeding four years in duration. View the current STFC rates for students and institutions
  4. For this scheme, the term “STFC community” refers to anyone who is supported by grant funding through the astronomy, nuclear physics and particle physics research programmes, or who is an STFC employee working within the National Laboratories

Guidelines for submitting a Global Challenge Studentship proposal

Potential applicants are encouraged to discuss their proposals at an early stage with the relevant Futures Theme Leader

Applicants should submit a full project proposal (up to a maximum of four pages), in PDF format, containing information under the following headings:

  1. Applicant details:
    1. Name of applicant (principal supervisor)
    2. Name of co-applicant (co-supervisor)
    3. Details of research organisation (name and address of organisation, department, or college)
  2. Co-funding, if applicable. Please set out clearly the contributions from the co-funder. This can be “in-kind” but must have a cash value specified within the proposal and must not include the financial value of a supervisor’s time
  3. Project title
  4. Project summary
  5. Project benefits. Please describe the perceived benefits of the studentship to both the STFC and global challenge partners
  6. Research council facilities. Please provide details of any proposed usage of national facilities
  7. Proposed training and support. Please describe the arrangements for generic and employability skills development training; also describe the research environment in which the student will work and the student’s training programme
  8. Monitoring arrangements. Please describe how the student’s progress is to be monitored and assessed
  9. Track record of applicant. Please include a list of up to five publications relevant to the area of research

Selection Criteria

Proposals will be assessed against the following criteria:

  1. How well the proposal meets the objectives of the Global Challenge studentship scheme as set out in the introduction to this call for proposals
  2. The training value to the student
  3. Whether the scientific or technical need for the project in a global challenge area has been clearly established
  4. The extent to which the proposal makes a clear link to STFC capability and/or expertise
  5. The overall quality and novelty of the proposal

Greater priority will be given to proposals that have an additional financial contribution from a co-funding partner.

Further Information

For further information on the scheme and the application process please contact Sharmila Banerjee.

For further guidance on submitting a studentship proposal please refer to the studentship handbook.

Cross-Council terms and conditions for doctoral training grants (PDF - link opens in a new window).