Can current PhD students at an eligible host university/institution apply, or is this grant only for new PhD students?
Yes – any eligible students currently undertaking a doctoral programme with an eligible host university/institution are welcome to apply.
I have a PhD admission in a university outside the UK and Ireland. Can I still apply for a grant?
Unfortunately, no. The Fund will only support studies in a physics department, school or faculty that has achieved either a Juno and/or an Athena SWAN award, on a physics-based topic at a recognised graduate degree-awarding university/institution in the UK and Ireland.
I’m an international student. Am I eligible to apply?
International students can apply if they fall within one of the specified minority areas defined in the 'under-represented groups in physics' section of the Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund (BBGSF) guide.
You would also need to receive an academic offer from an eligible host university/institution that is committed to match-funding the grant and paying normally at least 50% of the total costs of the doctoral programme.
I have an offer from a UK university, from their engineering college, to do a PhD in an engineering physics topic. Am I eligible to apply?
The Fund will only support studies in a physics department, school or faculty that holds either a Juno and/or an Athena SWAN award. We recognise that some universities do not have a standalone physics department; therefore, joint schools do qualify.
Unfortunately, if your university's/institution’s engineering school is separate to its physics school, then it wouldn't qualify for an award under the terms of the Fund.
Would a medical physics and bioengineering Mphil/PhD programme be eligible?
Medical physics is eligible. However, the Mphil aspect of the programme wouldn't be funded through this scheme, and the programme would have to sit firmly in the area of medical physics, not bioengineering.
Can the BBGSF grant support PhDs that are suggested by the student to a university department, rather than the other way around?
Yes. However, it is important to state on your application the full details of the lead supervisor and the host university/institution (as specified on the BBGSF application form), and that the student has been accepted onto the programme at the time of submission.
For this last criteria, the supervisor must be willing and able to supervise the student; with their academic qualifications having been deemed suitable for them to undertake the PhD programme.
My university as a whole has Athena Swan status, however the physics department doesn't. Would it still be eligible to apply?
The Fund will only support studies in a physics department, school or faculty that has either a Juno and/or an Athena SWAN award. Unfortunately, a university/institution-level award alone will not suffice for this scheme.
Are you still eligible if you have started your PhD but do not have full funding for the three years? In this case, which type of funding should you go for, co-funding or top-up?
Yes, you are still eligible. A larger award is for the co-funding studentship across 3-4 years. The smaller award is for applicants that have particular needs beyond the studentship e.g. caring responsibilities.
If a student is eligible for home fees, but does not hold UK citizenship, would the panel need to be made aware of this?
Provided you are eligible to do the PhD, we do not need to be informed of this. However, in terms of ambassadorship plans we would like a focus to be on the UK and Ireland.
Does the BBGSF co-funding award give a stipend that is enhanced beyond UKRI basic rates for the student?
The Fund aims to support as many underrepresented students to do PhDs as possible each year. Therefore, our co-funding model supports an award at the basic rate for UKRI students as support at an enhanced level would reduce the number of awards we can make.
What if I find out that I’ve won full funding for my project from elsewhere during the application process?
As we want to support as many students as possible to do PhDs who wouldn’t otherwise get the chance, we would encourage you to contact us to discuss whether it makes sense for you to withdraw from the application process if you get full, guaranteed funding during the application process.