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UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction

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PhD Study

The IRDR aims to cultivate an inclusive, stimulating and sustainable environment to support outstanding research in risk and disaster reduction. Research students are central to this aim. We will support outstanding early career researchers who have the potential to become leaders in their field.

  1. Research in the IRDR aspires to be cross-disciplinary, international and have significant societal impact. Research students contribute to the intellectual life of the IRDR and activity engage with UCL as a community of scholars.
  2. If you are interested in PhD study at UCL IRDR, we recommend that you find out more about our research, academic staff, and current PhD students from our website and our annual report, or meet us at one of our events.
  3. Applicants should identify a supervisor with suitable expertise to supervise their PhD and make contact with them before submitting a formal application to study for a PhD in UCL IRDR.
About PhD study at UCL IRDR

The IRDR aims to cultivate an inclusive, stimulating and sustainable environment to support outstanding research in risk and disaster reduction. Research students are central to this aim. We will support outstanding early career researchers who have the potential to become leaders in their field. 

Research in the IRDR aspires to be cross-disciplinary, international and have significant societal impact. Research students need to contribute to the intellectual life of the IRDR and actively engage with UCL as a community of scholars. Full-time PhD students with IRDR as their primary location should centre their research in the IRDR (and be based in an IRDR Research Room) but also actively engage with the academic life of their partner departments or institutions. 

IRDR funded or part-funded studentships must be held in the IRDR and all PhD students aiming to study in the IRDR should apply through UCL for RRDRDRSING01 Research Degree: Risk and Disaster Reduction.

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Types of studentship

Research Council funded PhD studentships

UCL IRDR is part of two UK Research Council Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs). Application deadlines for September entry typically open up to a year beforehand and close in January or February of the year the PhD starts. Studentships on these DTPs provide full fees and living expenses for up to 4 years for UK and EU students. 

Find out more:

Individually funded PhD studentships

We are not currently recruiting any individually funded studentships. Whenever we do have such a studentship available, full details of the project, funding, eligibility, and application process will be posted here and to our members mailing list. 

External scholarships and self-funded PhD study

UCL attracts students who have received funding from their own government or other external sources, so prospective applicants are advised to check with the Ministry of Education in their own country or from the British Council for information about other potential funding opportunities. Some of our current and recent students have received scholarships from the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission.

If you plan to fund your own PhD or are seeking an external scholarship, we require that you identify and get in touch with a potential supervisor in the IRDR before submitting your full application. Your potential supervisor will make the decision on whether you are accepted, so it is important for them to know that you intend to apply and would like them to supervise your studies. They may offer advice of specific materials that they wish to see in your full application.

Make sure that you let your potential supervisor know about any funding restrictions such as study start date, level of fees covered, and whether you need to hold an offer before submitting your funding application.

Careers

Not only is an IRDR PhD a great starting point for an academic or research career, but we also have strong connections with government agencies, think tanks, risk management and catastrophe modelling sections of commercial companies, and consultancy agencies.

We run an annual Careers and Opportunities Forum which offers expert and targeted advice, and hosts stalls from a range of employers and headhunters in the field of risk and disaster reduction. Our alumni are highly sought-after in the following sectors: insurance, catastrophe modelling, risk management, public policy, humanitarian development, NGOs, business continuity, government, emergency services, consultancy, and academia.

Application Instructions

The application procedure is slightly different depending if you are applying for (1) an individually advertised and funded project, (2) a studentship in a Doctoral Training Programme (DTP), or (3) a project that you will fund yourself  (this includes personal funds or funding that you have won from an external body).

(1) Applying for an individually funded and advertised project

Please apply via the UCL online application system. You should apply for RRDRDRSING01 Research Degree: Risk and Disaster Reduction, and make sure that you list the name of the project and the supervisor. Please send a copy of your application to the project supervisor once you have submitted it on this system.

In your application, you will be asked for your academic and employment record, in addition to references and a personal statement. From your personal statement, we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study at PhD level
  • why you chose the particular project that you are applying for
  • how your academic background meets the demands of PhD study in the IRDR
  • any other experiences that make you suitable for PhD study in the IRDR
  • where you would like to go professionally with this PhD qualification

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to elaborate on your reasons for applying to this programme and how your interests match with what the programme will deliver.

Please contact the project supervisor if you have any questions about the PhD project you are applying for, and contact rosanna.smith[at]ucl.ac.uk if you have any questions about the application process.

(2) Applying for a studentship in a DTP

UCL IRDR is part of two UK Research Council Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs).

If you have any questions about one of the IRDR projects in one of these DTPs, please contact the supervisor listed with the project.

(3) Applying for a project that you will fund externally

Please note that decisions to accept PhD students are made primarily by the academic staff member who will take on the role of principal supervisor. You should therefore contact a suitable supervisor and secure their agreement to supervise your PhD before submitting an application. Note that applications with no marked supervisor may not be considered by anyone, so it is very important that you have made this contact before applying and that you state the supervisor name on your application. You should then follow the instructions given for (1), noting that your personal statement in this case may also need include a PhD project proposal, according to the advice of your agreed supervisor.