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South East Doctoral Training Arc (SEDarc)

South East Doctoral Training Arc (SEDarc)

Royal Holloway is delighted to announce that we are the lead member of the new SEDarc Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP), which offers Economics and Social Research Council (ESRC) studentships, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

*** The competition for 2024 entry is now closed ***

What is SEDarc?

SEDarc comprises 6 leading universities: Royal Holloway, University of London; University of Kent; Kingston University; University of Reading; University of Surrey; and University of Sussex, and is one of the 14 ESRC Doctoral Training Partnerships

SEDarc’s vision is to develop world-class social science researchers from all backgrounds who thrive in challenge-led, collaborative, and interdisciplinary contexts.  It offers a transformative approach to PhD studies that combines a cutting-edge doctoral training, job placements outside academia, and an individual research project based in one of five interdisciplinary, challenge-led pathways. 

What studentships are available?

There are up to 39 awards available each year across the whole consortium in the open competition for students who are applying to undertake PhD study.

Studentships include stipend and UK rate tuition fees for 3.5 years (42 months) for a full time student, or 7 years (84 months) for a part-time student (50% of the full time rate of stipend).  During the studentship a placement will be expected to be undertaken.

You can apply for funding to study for a Masters and PhD (1+3.5 award) or a PhD alone (+3.5).

2023/24 rates for stipend are £20,622.  This includes £2,000 London Allowance.  Supplementary funds are available for research and training costs (such as attending conferences, overseas fieldwork, language training, placement costs, etc.).

** You should note that you must submit your thesis during your funded period and by your funding end date.

What will the programme look like?

As a SEDarc postgraduate researcher you will:

  • Conduct an independent challenge-led research project (see themes below) achievable in 2.75 years
  • Follow 200 hours per year of subject specific training and wider professional development to enhance your career prospects
  • Undertake a funded 3-month placement which can be completed flexibly
  • Receive a studentship for 3.5 years for a PhD (3.25 years without the expected three-month placement) – and 4.5 years for a Masters + PhD programme
  • Submit a new style of PhD thesis which includes reflection on your training journey, your placement and knowledge exchange activities
Academic conditions

To apply for a Masters plus PhD (1+3.5) you will need: qualifications or professional experience equivalent to a Bachelors' degree (Honours).

To apply for a PhD only you will need: qualifications or professional experience equivalent to a Masters degree and which includes the required research methods training.

** NB students who have already started their PhD are not eligible for a SEDarc studentship.

Application process

You can apply to SEDarc for a doctoral award to commence September 2024 through Royal Holloway. 

SEDarc awards are available in the following subject areas at Royal Holloway:


Royal Holloway Department

Department Lead

Business and Management

Business and Management

Dr Gul Berna Ozcan

Cyber Security

Information Security

Dr Andrew Dwyer



Professor Manolis Galenianos

Geography and Environmental Studies


Dr Sasha Engelmann


Law and Criminology

Professor Jill Marshall

Politics and International Relations

Politics, International Relations, and Philosophy

Professor Jennifer Piscopo



Dr Shiri Lev-Ari

Applications will be assessed within 5 cross-disciplinary, challenge-led themes that span the social sciences:

  • Living Sustainably
  • Healthy, Thriving Communities
  • Inclusive Economic Growth
  • Secure, Effective and Trusted Organisations
  • Transformative Technologies for Society

Some examples, but not limited to, what could be included under the above themes.

Once you have identified the department you would like to apply through, you will need to undertake the following steps:

  1. Please ensure you are familiar with the ESRC’s eligibility criteria, and their terms and conditions, before beginning an application.  See the eligibility section below.
  2. Contact the relevant DTP Lead for the department you wish to apply through, as noted above, or potential supervisor if you have identified one, to discuss your research proposal, the supervision that may be available, and whether you might be considered a suitable candidate for a SEDarc award.  You can also check with the department on their selection process.
  3. Discuss with your potential supervisor how your project fits within the SEDarc themes.
  4. If your project proposal fits within a SEDarc theme, and you have been advised to do so by the department DTP Lead or your supervisor, complete a SEDarc application formGuidance on completing the form is available.
  5. You will also need to apply for a PhD place to study at Royal Holloway.  You can find out how to do this on our Admissions page.

If you wish to apply for a 1+3.5 award and complete a Masters first, the compliant Royal Holloway Masters programmes are listed below:

MSc Clinical Psychology (Psychology department)

MSc Economics (Economics department)

MSc Elections, Campaigns, and Democracy (Politics & International Relations department)

MSc Global Futures (Geography department)

MSc Media, Power, & Public Affairs (Politics & International Relations department)

Application deadline

The deadline for applications to be submitted to Royal Holloway's SEDarc competition is Monday 22 January, middaybut departments will set their own earlier application deadlines - please check with them directly where not noted below.

Business and Management: Monday 15 January 2024, 12am

Cyber Security: Monday 8 January 2024, 5pm

Economics: Monday 8 January 2024, 5pm

Geography and Environmental Studies: Friday 5 January 2024, 5pm

Law and Criminology: Monday 8 January 2024, 5pm

Politics, International Relations, and Philosophy: Monday 8 January 2024, 5pm

Psychology: Monday 15 January 2024, 10am

Assessment process

There are three stages to the competition:

  1. Departmental internal review
  2. University institutional review
  3. SEDarc external review

If the department agrees to put your application forward to the Royal Holloway open competition (Stage 1), it will be considered by internal panels of subject experts at Royal Holloway (Stage 2).

Applicants are expected to complete a draft SEDarc application.  The main part of the application is your detailed research proposal described in a way that could be read by a general academic audience, in a maximum of 1,500 words. Your proposal should follow this structure: i) research background and fit to the selected challenge-led theme; ii) research questions and aims; iii) research plan (including methods); iv) proposed impact; v) proposed timeline.

You will hear from your selected department in February whether your application will go forward to the external, SEDarc stage of the competition.  If your application does progress into the open competition (Stage 3) you will hear in March whether or not it has been successful.

The timetable for the competition is as follows:

January 2024

Application deadline set by each department (Stage 1).  Complete draft SEDarc application form

Mon 22 Jan, 5pm

Deadline to apply for a PhD programme on the Admissions applicant portal

Mon 22 Jan – Wed 14 Feb

University internal reviews (Stage 2)

Thu 15 Feb – Sun 18 Feb, midnight

Successful applicants revise their SEDarc applications utilizing feedback from panel

Mon 19 Feb, 5pm

SEDarc deadline for applications to be submitted for external review (Stage 3)

ESRC terms and conditions and eligibility

All ESRC awards are subject to UKRI Terms and Conditions. Please ensure that you are familiar with them. They are set out in two documents which can be accessed via the 'Manage your award' page on the UKRI website:

  • UKRI Terms and Conditions of Training Grants
  • UKRI Training Grant Guidance

Note that EU students are now classed as international students and the UKRI funding competitions have been opened to all international students who may apply for a UK fees and stipend award.

Successful international recipients of a UKRI studentship will receive a tuition fee award from the University covering the difference between home and international fees.

To be classed as a home (UK) student, you must meet the following criteria and the associate residency requirements:

  • Be a UK National or,
  • Have settled status or,
  • Have pre-settled status or,
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter

If you do not meet the criteria above, you are classed as an international student.  Please note, up to 30% of each cohort of students may be international.

You can find current stipend and fee rates, as well as other support provided by UKRI for studentship award holders here: 'Get a studentship to fund your doctorate' page on the UKRI website.

Got a question?

Email if you have any enquiries about applying for a SEDarc studentship at Royal Holloway.

The SEDarc website can be accessed here.


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