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Studentships starting in October 2022 are now advertised on the project page. The application deadline is 9th January 2022.

Please read this section carefully before following in the Step by Step instructions for submitting an application.

You may also find it useful to read our Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants


We offer fully funded 3 year 9 month studentships (this includes your maintenance grant + University fees + research costs).  

  • The maintenance grant is paid at the standard  UKRI rate (currently £15,609 in Session 2021/22, and will likely increase in 2022/23 and each year of your study approximately in line with inflation). Maintenance grants are not subject to UK income tax or national insurance. 
  • All your fees to the University will be paid. 
  • Your extensive SENSE training programme and travel/accommodation costs will be covered, in addition to any research cost (e.g. fieldwork or purchasing satellite data). Beyond this, you will receive a Research Training and Support Grant (RTSG) of £1050/year to cover conference attendance, any additional research visits to other institutions, and other miscellaneous costs. SENSE students are further eligible to apply for extra travel funding from the centre which will be assessed on a case by case basis. 
  • Please note that any cost incurred in obtaining a visa to study in the UK will not be funded by the centre.

Entry Requirements 

We expect  most  applicants to have a  degree equivalent to a UK first class honours, or a high upper second class, in an environmental science, maths, physics, computer science, or engineering discipline. However, we will consider applications from a wide range of backgrounds, including those with non-traditional  qualifications or from industry – please feel free to contact us to have a chat about your suitability for the programme.  

If you have not studied in the UK you must check the equivalence of your qualification here and include it clearly in your application:

Candidates who already hold a PhD are unlikely to be considered.

We welcome applications from all suitably qualified candidates. Our graduates will come from a diverse range of backgrounds and ethnicities, and experience no prejudice at admissions or during their studies related to their sexuality, disability or any other protected characteristic. All host partners are committed to advancing gender equality, as demonstrated through signing the Athena SWAN Charter, a commitment to the advancement and promotion of the careers of women. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit, and all the best candidates will be interviewed.

This year it is our ambition to guarantee interviews for appointable UK BAME or disabled applicants who meet the minimum requirements, up to the number of half last year’s interviewees. To be considered for this scheme you need to fill in this form by Fri 28th Jan. Our privacy policy is available to view here.

Home and International Applicants

SENSE are delighted that for 2022 we will be able to accept applications from worldwide applicants however it is important to be aware of the difference between home and international students.

To be classed as a home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:
• Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
• Have settled status, or
• Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
• Have indefinite leave to remain or enter

If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they would be classed as an International student.

In line with the recent UKRI and NERC guideline, a small proportion of our studentships are available for international students. All students will obtain 3 year 9 months fully funded studentships including full tuition fees for all successful applicants, and stipend at the UKRI rate plus a training grant. There will be no top up of fees required for international students as the universities will cover this.

All international students will require a ‘Student Route’ visa (which replaces the previous Tier 4 visa). You can find more information about this here. The university where the students are registered will be the sponsor of the visa. Please note that any costs associated with obtaining a visa must be met by the student.

Proof of English language ability

All PhD applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 (at least 20 in each module)
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

You must have graduated from a degree taught and assessed in English no more than three and a half years ago at the beginning of your PhD (i.e. by October 2022 for the current entry round). IELTS, TOEFL, Pearson Test of English and Trinity ISE must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme (October 2022).

Postgraduate Studies English language requirements

Visa Requirements

International students will require a visa to study in the UK, and due to Brexit this will include students from the European Union from 1st January 2022. You will find details about obtaining a student visa here

The Selection Process

Step 1 

Application: Submit an application via the University of Leeds application portal. Step by step guidance is available here. The deadline for applications is 9th January 2022

Step 2 

Selection: Your application will be reviewed by the supervisors of the project that you apply to, and SENSE’s recruitment committee who will read an anonymised application. We encourage you to get in touch with the supervisor of the project you are applying to, to discuss the project. If you are unsure about or would like support in contacting potential supervisors, or would like to contact them anonymously, please contact the centre managers (see ‘Questions’) at the bottom of this page.

Applicants will be invited for interview based on the following criteria:

  • Score for Bachelor’s degree
  • Score for master’s grade, or relevant industry experience
  • References
  • Any scientific outputs (not expected or essential, but let us know if you have any)
  • Research skills / experience
  • Technical experience
  • Earth Observation experience

Please note that it is not necessary for a candidate to be proficient in all these areas: SENSE provides extensive training in Earth Observation, advanced data techniques and programming. We recruit candidates from a broad range of backgrounds and we consider each application individually.

Step 3 

Interview.  We will call the strongest applicants for interview. The interview panel will be Earth Observation academics from the University of Edinburgh, University of Leeds and industry, with a range of specialities, and will not include the project supervisor. Interviews will be held in Leeds in late February / early March 2022. We seek to make offers to students who have the best aptitude for the projects and who perform best at interview. 

Step 4 

Offer.  We will make a formal offer to the successful candidate shortly after interviews. 

Once you accept the offer of the study place, you will be sent a formal funding letter. 


The application deadline is Sun 9th January 2022.


If you require any further information please contact, this email address is checked by the centre managers who are not involved in the candidate selection.