NASA satellite imagery
NASA satellite imagery
(Image credit: Philip Stier)

Intelligent Earth (UKRI CDT in AI for the Environment)

About the course

The Intelligent Earth CDT is a four-year PhD programme designed to equip a new generation of PhD students with advanced AI skills to tackle some of the most pressing environmental issues. 

The programme will train a new generation of quantitative environmental data scientists to make substantial contributions in environmental and data sciences through five closely connected themes:

  1. Climate
  2. Biodiversity
  3. Natural hazards
  4. Environmental solutions
  5. Core AI/ML research on complex environmental data

The programme is intrinsically interdisciplinary: you will be advised by both an environmental science supervisor and an AI supervisor from two different departments, plus a non-academic partner who also serves as host for a secondment. This course is suitable for quantitative applicants from data science, mathematical, physical and environmental science backgrounds. 

The teaching model for all courses will be tailored towards training students to become independent researchers. After introductory lectures, you will be introduced to the corresponding AI tools, frameworks and environmental datasets to apply the taught material in tutorial-based project work. You will work in interdisciplinary groups tackling grand challenges in environmental science of increasing complexity with AI. The programme will be individually tailored to your needs.

Key components of the teaching programme:

  • Induction week
  • Core courses in foundations of AI/ML and foundations of the four environmental themes
  • Responsible AI training
  • Computational skills training
  • Advanced cross-cohort courses will focus on specific areas of AI applied to grand challenges and associated datasets from the four environmental themes
  • Professional skills training
  • Teaching skills training

In the second half of year one, you will undertake a three-month research project supervised by one of the potential DPhil supervisors.

In addition to the formal teaching programme, student experience and training will be enriched by:

  • Weekly Intelligent Earth seminars
  • Annual two-week hackathons
  • Annual two-day CDT conference

Course structure

In year one, you will take core courses and computational skills training courses, followed by advanced cross-cohort courses, responsible AI training, and professional skills training modules, culminating in a three-month research project followed by the annual hackathon and conference. Course free periods will be used for consolidation, supervisor matching, and DPhil proposal development.

In year two, you will transition to your primary department and supervisors, and you will start your DPhil research. You will take advanced cross-cohort courses and professional/computational skill training modules. A secondment with non-academic partners may also take place at this stage, but may alternatively take place in year three.

In year three, your focus will be on DPhil research with optional advanced courses and professional/computational skill training modules based on your individual training needs. A secondment with non-academic partners may also take place at this stage if it was not undertaken in year two.

In year four, you will finalise your DPhil research and complete your thesis writing. Professional training will focus on career development, job/fellowship applications and interviews.


The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Intelligent Earth CDT and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Intelligent Earth CDT.

During your first year, you will have a supervisor from the academic leadership of the CDT. Regular meetings serve to monitor academic progress as well as to discuss any academic issues or questions arising. When you transition into one of the participating departments to commence you research project in year two, you will be co-advised by two supervisors, one from an environmental science department and one from an AI department. First-year supervisors will act as mentors throughout the programme, providing academic and pastoral guidance.

You will be expected to meet your supervisor on a regular basis. These meetings should take place at least once every two weeks, averaged across the year, to discuss your progress.


You will be assessed continually throughout the first year training courses modules. In the second half you will undertake a three-month research project and will be required to deliver a written report that will be assessed.

At the end of the second year, you will be required to write a report and give a presentation on your research, and to present a detailed and coherent plan for the research-intensive phase in the third and fourth years of your doctoral studies. Progress towards completion is again formally assessed some way into the final year of study.

You will carry out your DPhil project in the department of your primary supervisor and will gain your DPhil from the department in which you carry out your research project. You will follow the same milestones and assessments as a standard DPhil, so you will have Probationer Research Student (PRS) status until you confirm your status as a DPhil student by term six. By term nine you will confirm status and you will submit your thesis for assessment by the end of term 12.

Graduate destinations

The CDT will train a new generation of quantitative environmental data scientists equipped to make substantial contributions in environmental and data sciences as well as being prepared for a wide range of career paths in academia, research and industry, supported by the CDT's extensive partnership network.

The CDT anticipates Intelligent Earth Graduates to drive innovation and found their own start-ups, supported by the programme’s dedicated training in enterprise, impact, and responsible AI.

Changes to this course and your supervision

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic, epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2024-25

Proven and potential academic excellence

The requirements described below are specific to this course and apply only in the year of entry that is shown. You can use our interactive tool to help you evaluate whether your application is likely to be competitive.

Please be aware that any studentships that are linked to this course may have different or additional requirements and you should read any studentship information carefully before applying. 

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:

  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours

The above qualification should be achieved in one of the following subject areas or disciplines:

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • computer science
  • engineering
  • earth sciences
  • environment sciences
  • geography
  • geology
  • geophysics
  • mathematics
  • meteorology
  • oceanography
  • physics
  • statistics; or
  • other related disciplines such as data science, mathematical, physical and environmental science

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.

If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.

GRE General Test scores

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

  • The programme aims to develop and apply AI and candidates should have strong quantitative skills. Therefore, as a minimum applicants should have maths skills equivalent to UK A-level or to have done maths as part of their course.
  • Candidates will need to demonstrate a broad interest in some or all of the five Intelligent Earth themes: Climate, Biodiversity, Natural Hazards, Environmental Solutions, and Core AI Research in their personal statement and interview. 
  • Applicants whose previous degree was not explicitly quantitatively based should be able to demonstrate the ability to learn the necessary skills required for successful completion of the course.
  • Although it is not required to have a master’s degree, in practice most applicants with a ‘physical science’ background will have completed a four-year integrated master's course.
  • Professional experience, especially research experience, is valuable and will be taken into consideration as a substitute for an academic qualification.
  • Publications are not expected, but should be included if present.

English language proficiency

This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.

Minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level requirement
TestMinimum overall scoreMinimum score per component
IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713) 7.57.0

TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'

(Institution code: 0490)

110Listening: 22
Reading: 24
Speaking: 25
Writing: 24
C1 Advanced*191185
C2 Proficiency191185

*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.

Declaring extenuating circumstances

If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.


You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process and are expected to be held in the second half of February.

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements described under that heading.

References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process. Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed

Shortlisting and selection

Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:

  • socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
  • country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
  • protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.

Initiatives to improve access to graduate study

This course is taking part in a continuing pilot programme to improve the selection procedure for graduate applications, in order to ensure that all candidates are evaluated fairly.

For this course, socio-economic data (where it has been provided in the application form) will be used to contextualise applications at the different stages of the selection process. Further information about how we use your socio-economic data can be found in our page about initiatives to improve access to graduate study.

If you wish, you may submit an additional contextual statement (using the instructions in the How to apply section of this page) to provide further information on your socio-economic background or personal circumstances in support of your application. Further information about how your contextual statement will be used can be found in our page about initiatives to improve access to graduate study.

Once submitted, applications will be anonymised to minimise conscious and unconscious bias. Please carefully read the instructions for completing your application in the How to apply section of this page. Further information about why we are anonymising applications can be found in our page about initiatives to improve access to graduate study.

Information on ethnicity will be used subsequent to academic shortlisting. Candidates who identify as Black British will be shortlisted for interview, provided that they meet the eligibility criteria shown in our page about initiatives to improve access to graduate study.

This is also one of the courses participating in the Academic Futures programme, including the Black Academic Futures programme. Applicants who are offered a place on this course and meet the eligibility criteria will subsequently be considered for funding through the Academic Futures programme.

Processing your data for shortlisting and selection

Information about processing special category data for the purposes of positive action and using your data to assess your eligibility for funding, can be found in our Postgraduate Applicant Privacy Policy.

Admissions panels and assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

Other factors governing whether places can be offered

The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
  • the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
  • minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.

Offer conditions for successful applications

If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about offers and conditions

In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:

Financial Declaration

If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.

Disclosure of criminal convictions

In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

Some postgraduate research students in science, engineering and technology subjects will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate prior to applying for a Student visa (under the Student Route). For some courses, the requirement to apply for an ATAS certificate may depend on your research area.


The programme is resourced by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) with contributions from the university and partners. It will be integrated in Oxford's Doctoral Training Centre and training may take place in a number of locations across the university and students will often work together on problem sets, or in groups, with the support of demonstrators.

You will have access to computational facilities as well as a laptop. When you move out to your department you will also have access to the facilities provided by that department. You will remain a member of the CDT and be able to return to the CDT facilities, based within the Doctoral Training Centre, on Keble Road, to use the facilities there.

You will have access to seminars in all eight departments as well as across the wider university. In addition to the training modules offered by the CDT, you will be able to sign up for a wide range of training courses and modules offered by departments across the university via the University's Researcher Training Tool.

You will also have access to Oxford's wide library network, including the recently refurbished Radcliffe Science Library.

Departments offering this course

One of the following departments will serve as your primary department from year two onwards, when you will begin your DPhil research:

Department of Biology

The Department of Biology is one of the leading UK university departments dedicated to research and teaching in biology, possessing world-class strengths across the breadth of modern biological science research.

The department’s research is organised into five sections:

  • Behaviour and Biomechanics
  • Ecology and Evolution
  • Evolution and Developmental Biology
  • Microbiology and Infectious Disease
  • Molecular Plant Biology

There is considerable overlap between these sections, with many members of the department working in more than one section, and many research projects that cut across section boundaries. Indeed, a key characteristic of the department is that it works as a well-integrated whole with collaborations developing naturally between researchers working on diverse topics

All of the department’s laboratories are excellently equipped for modern cell and molecular technologies. In addition, you will have access to a range of unique facilities in the form of the living collections and arboretum of the University’s Botanic Garden and two on-site herbaria of international standing.

There are two routes into undertaking your doctoral research at the department. You may apply directly to the DPhil in Biology. Alternatively, you may apply to one of the University’s Doctoral Training Programmes. The latter are fully-funded, four-year graduate training programmes which involve a training period of taught courses for around three to six months before deciding on a DPhil project. Applicants are encouraged to consider both entry routes.

Department of Computer Science

The Department of Computer Science is at the heart of computing and related interdisciplinary activity at Oxford. 

The department is home to a community of world class researchers and is consistently ranked in the Times Higher Education University Rankings amongst the very best computer science departments in the world, for both teaching and research. 

The Department of Computer Science is committed to attracting the world’s most talented students and working with them to continue the success of the field of computer science. As a student here, you will join a vibrant community working in research areas including:

  • algorithms and complexity theory
  • artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • automated verification
  • computational biology and health informatics
  • data, knowledge and action
  • human centred computing
  • programming languages 
  • quantum
  • security
  • systems
  • software engineering.

The department’s strength comes from its firm grounding in core computer science disciplines, a high degree of mathematical sophistication among its researchers, and its committed engagement with applications and interdisciplinary work.

You will have the opportunity to meet other students and staff working across these research areas by attending seminars, workshops and lectures, and through social events organised by the Computer Science Graduate Society and the Oxford Women in Computer Science Society.

The department is home to undergraduates, full-time and part-time master's students, and has a strong doctoral programme.

Department of Earth Sciences

The Earth sciences are the focus of scientific understanding about this and other planets, embracing a wide range of fundamental topics.

Topics studied in Earth sciences include the evolution of life, how climate has changed and will change in future, the nature of planetary surfaces and interiors, and the processes underlying natural hazards like earthquakes and volcanoes.

The emphasis of both teaching and research in the department is on understanding the fundamental principles of geological processes. Theory, measurements, experiments, and observation of natural processes are all essential elements in the Earth sciences, and students with a strong background in all aspects of the physical sciences are encouraged to join the department.

The department offers the latest analytical equipment and powerful computing facilities, supporting research in all aspects of the Earth sciences.

The department’s research is grouped into six areas of focus:

  • geophysics and geodynamics
  • planetary evolution and materials
  • oceanography, climate and paleoenvironment
  • paleobiology and evolution
  • geodesy, tectonics, volcanology and related hazards
  • Earth resources.

It is not unusual for research topics to be multidisciplinary, and for students to have more than one supervisor covering different aspects of the project.

Department of Engineering Science

The Department of Engineering Science brings together the study of all branches of engineering at Oxford. It has a community of around 550 graduate students at any given time.

The department has a substantial research portfolio, including much that is directly supported by industry. The major theme underlying this research portfolio is the application of cutting-edge science to generate new technology, using a mixture of theory, computation and experiment.

Study and research opportunities in the department include both conventional disciplines of engineering and newer areas of interest, such as information engineering, low-temperature engineering, nanotechnology and experimental plasma physics.

There are no barriers between different branches of engineering. The department is involved in a great deal of multidisciplinary and collaborative research with groups in other departments, from archaeology to zoology. 

The department has an excellent record of engagement with industry and of translating research results into real-world applications. It has generated numerous successful spin-out companies.

The department offers a range of research degrees, including four-year programmes as part of several specialised Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs).

School of Geography and the Environment

With over 200 graduate students from a range of nationalities, professional and disciplinary backgrounds, the School of Geography and the Environment at Oxford is one of the largest, most diverse and vibrant in the world. 

The school offers a number of graduate courses, ensuring that a suitable opportunity exists at Oxford regardless of whether you are planning a career in research, teaching or an environment-related profession, preparing for a career change or to take a career break.

There are several one-year MSc courses combining taught course modules with a dissertation. These courses offer a framework of core lectures, field courses, electives, and workshops and symposia for learning. Individual classes reflect the research interests of individual faculty and often mix seminar style teaching with discussions or practical exercises.

The two-year MPhil courses combine a substantial research component with master’s-level study, and the DPhil is an advanced research degree which involves three to four years of full-time original, independent research or a part-time pathway which involves six to eight years of research.

Research is supported in key areas of environmental, human and physical geography, from studies on migration, geopolitics, biogeography, climate change, flood risk, desertification, biological and cultural diversity, and many other areas.

Department of Physics

The six sub-departments at Oxford Physics are Astrophysics, Atomic and Laser Physics, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics, Condensed Matter Physics, Particle Physics and Theoretical Physics. Each of these sub-departments is autonomous, although many of the research projects available are interdisciplinary.

All of the DPhil degrees at Oxford Physics are research-based courses that normally take three to four years of study. You will be expected to carry out your own research in areas drawn from the broad range of research across the department, and will be allocated at least one supervisor who will be your primary contact for guidance throughout your research degree. In parallel with your project, you will be expected to attend a taught course in the first year, comprising lectures, seminars and discussion classes at graduate level.

Whilst working on your research project you will engage in a thorough skills training programme which includes a range of workshops and seminars in transferable skills, generic research skills and specific research techniques. There are also numerous seminars and lectures held in the department by local and visiting physicists, and you will be provided with many opportunities to meet experts in various fields. There will also be opportunity for you to present your work at both formal and informal conferences, seminars and colloquia.

Department of Statistics

The University's Department of Statistics is a world leader in research in probability, bioinformatics, mathematical genetics and statistical methodology, including computational statistics, machine learning and data science. 

You will be actively involved in a vibrant academic community by means of seminars, lectures, journal clubs, and social events. Research students are offered training in modern probability, stochastic processes, statistical methodology, computational methods and transferable skills, in addition to specialised topics relevant to specific application areas.

Much of the research in the Department of Statistics is either explicitly interdisciplinary or draws motivation from application areas, ranging from genetics, immunoinformatics, bioinformatics and cheminformatics, to finance and the social sciences.

The department is located on St Giles, in a building providing excellent teaching facilities and creating a highly visible centre for statistics in Oxford. Oxford’s Mathematical Sciences submission came first in the UK on all criteria in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF).


The University expects to be able to offer over 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2024-25. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. 

For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.

Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:

Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.

Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the department's website.


Annual fees for entry in 2024-25

Fee status

Annual Course fees


Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.

Information about course fees

Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.

Continuation charges

Following the period of fee liability, you may also be required to pay a University continuation charge and a college continuation charge. The University and college continuation charges are shown on the Continuation charges page.

Where can I find further information about fees?

The Fees and Funding section of this website provides further information about course fees, including information about fee status and eligibility and your length of fee liability.

Additional information

CDT funded studentships come with an additional research training support grant (RTSG) to cover costs of associated equipment, research and travel. Individual research projects come with variable research costs and students will need to discuss these with their supervisor and plan a budget for their project. In some cases students may need to apply for additional funding, either from the RTSG or from college or other sources. Students should always involve their supervisor with such funding requests.

Living costs

In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2024-25 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,345 and £1,955 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our living costs page. The current economic climate and high national rate of inflation make it very hard to estimate potential changes to the cost of living over the next few years. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2024-25, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of around 5% each year – although this rate may vary depending on the national economic situation. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.

College preference

Students enrolled on this course will belong to both a department/faculty and a college. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 43 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as societies and permanent private halls (PPHs). 

If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. Before deciding, we suggest that you read our brief introduction to the college system at Oxford and our advice about expressing a college preference. For some courses, the department may have provided some additional advice below to help you decide.

The following colleges accept students on the Intelligent Earth (UKRI CDT in AI for the Environment):

Before you apply

Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. You can use our interactive tool to help you evaluate whether your application is likely to be competitive.

If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide.

Application fee waivers

An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:

  • applicants from low-income countries;
  • refugees and displaced persons; 
  • UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and 
  • applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.

You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.

Readmission for current Oxford graduate taught students

If you're currently studying for an Oxford graduate taught course and apply to this course with no break in your studies, you may be eligible to apply to this course as a readmission applicant. The application fee will be waived for an eligible application of this type. Check whether you're eligible to apply for readmission.

Application fee waivers for eligible associated courses

If you apply to this course and up to two eligible associated courses from our predefined list during the same cycle, you can request an application fee waiver so that you only need to pay one application fee.

The list of eligible associated courses may be updated as new courses are opened. Please check the list regularly, especially if you are applying to a course that has recently opened to accept applications.

Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?

Informal enquiries should be made to the Intelligent Earth CDT administrator in the first instance.

You are encouraged to communicate with academics working in your area of interest to discuss potential research topics and the possibility of being offered supervision. Profiles of academics with whom you might wish to study can be found on the CDT website.

Completing your application

You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents.

For this course, the application form will include questions that collect information that would usually be included in a CV/résumé. You should not upload a separate document. If a separate CV/résumé is uploaded, it will be removed from your application.

If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.

Proposed field and title of research project

If you are not applying for a specific project, you do not have to specify one at this stage. Instead you should indicate your preferred CDT Research theme under 'Proposed field and title of research project'. If there are pre-defined projects or topic areas of interest to you, you can indicate this in your personal statement. You retain the right to change your research stream up to the point where you submit your research proposal in the second term, so this selection is not binding at application stage.

Proposed supervisor

It is not necessary for you to identify a potential supervisor in your application.
Students will be matched with supervisors and partners throughout the first year of training. Nonetheless, you are encouraged to make contact with potential supervisors throughout the application process. This may lead to the development of a project idea, but there is no commitment on either side. 

Three overall, of which at least two must be academic

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

One professional reference can be accepted if you have relevant work experience, but academic references are preferred.

Your references will support proven and potential academic excellence in terms of intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, communication skills and ability to work in a group.

We are requesting that referees anonymise their references with respect to name, ethnicity and gender as one of the actions we are taking as part of a pilot aimed at minimising conscious and unconscious bias in the admissions procedure for graduate students. Please ensure any referees you approach are aware of this requirement. 

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

Contextual statement

If you wish to provide a contextual statement with your application, you may also submit an additional statement to provide contextual information on your socio-economic background or personal circumstances in support of your application.

Submit a contextual statement

It is not necessary to anonymise this document, as we recognise that it may be necessary for you to disclose certain information in your statement. This statement will not be used as part of the initial academic assessment of applications at shortlisting, but may be used in combination with socio-economic data to provide contextual information during decision-making processes.

Please note, this statement is in addition to completing the 'Extenuating circumstances’ section of the standard application form.

You can find more information about the contextual statement on our page that provides details of the continuing pilot programme to improve the assessment procedure for graduate applications.

Statement of purpose:
A minimum of 500 words to a maximum of 1,000 words

Your statement should be written in English and should focus on your motivation, research interests and career ambitions in the area of the CDT, rather than on other personal achievements, interests and aspirations. It should refer directly and specifically to one or more of the themes of the CDT.

It will be normal for your ideas and goals to change in some ways as you participate in the programme and you are not committed to work in the specific subject area or with any supervisor(s) you highlight in your application. You should nevertheless make the best effort to demonstrate your current interests and aspirations. 

Your statement will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • your ability to present a coherent case
  • your commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
  • your preliminary knowledge of the subject area and research techniques
  • your reasoning ability
  • your ability to absorb new ideas

Start or continue your application

You can start or return to an application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, please refer to the requirements above and consult our Application Guide for advice. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.

Application Guide Apply

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