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This scheme is aimed at supporting professionals to undertake PhD research, on a part-time basis, which will both support their own career development and be of strategic importance to their employer.

How do employers benefit?

Funding for the tuition fees is fully provided by the University via a bursary.  Employers benefit from research that is strategically relevant to their work whilst at the same time enabling their staff to further develop with valuable professional and transferable skills in a range of areas, including research excellence, critical analysis, data handling, time management and organisational skills.

Depending on their design, projects may foster further links between employers and academics, leading to two-way knowledge transfer.


How do candidates benefit?

These awards are aimed at addressing two of the main challenges faced by part-time PhD students who are in employment:

  • finding the funding to cover the cost of their fees
  • gaining support from their employers, particularly in terms of time for study and for attending supervision meetings or training sessions.


Wilkie Calvert candidates receive the support from their employer to research an area that is relevant to their professional work, but that is also of personal interest and helps with their ongoing career development.


What support is provided by the University?

The University will provide funding to cover the cost of tuition fees for part-time PhD study at the UK/Republic of Ireland rate for five years. Successful applicants will be supported by a supervision team with expertise relevant to the research and have access to a suite of researcher development training.


What support is asked of employers?

Employers are asked to provide candidates with tangible support which could consist of:

  • allowing a portion of the candidate's working time to be spent on the research providing access to specific facilities, data, or archives
  • mentoring for the candidate
  • providing additional funding for research-related expenses.


What are the eligibility criteria?


  • will normally be expected to hold an undergraduate degree (at the 2:1 level or equivalent) and a master's degree. This requirement may be waived where candidates have a body of relevant professional experience
  • will normally be UK or Republic of Ireland nationals. Those who are not eligible for UK/Republic of Ireland fee status may apply, but they would be liable to provide the additional funding required to cover the international fee rate. They would also be required to meet the standard English Language requirements.



  • may include private sector and not-for-profit organisations, charities, public sector organisations; employers should not be academic organisations (e.g. universities, colleges)
  • are required to provide a letter of support indicating how they are willing to support the candidate in their research and the relevance of the research to the employer's interests.


When do awards start and what is the deadline?

Applications are invited by the deadline of Friday 3 May 2024.  Awards will start in September 2024.


How to apply

In order to apply for an award, candidates should:

1. Seek the support of their employer and consult with them about their specific research proposal; gain a letter of support from their employer.

2. Contact the relevant University of Reading School/Department to ensure that they would be prepared to support an application in the proposed area; candidates are encouraged to consult their prospective supervisor about the research proposal prior to submitting an application if possible

3. Apply online for a place of admission (and have a PhD place confirmed) at the University by the deadlines given above.

4. Complete a Wilkie Calvert Studentships application form (Word document, 0.4 MB).


What would happen if a candidate left the employment or substantially changes his or her role during the period of the award?

The continuation of the award, and the ongoing registration as a PhD student, would be reviewed in order to determine whether completion is still feasible given the new circumstances.


Further information

Please email the Doctoral Studentships Officer at in the first instance.

Find out more about how part-time PhD study works