The Forest Edge Doctoral scholarship

The Forest EdgeThe Forest Edge Doctoral Scholarships programme will offer 20 Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships at the University of Birmingham from 2018 - 2021.

The Forest Edge will offer a comprehensive training programme to develop researchers and help to prepare you for post-PhD life in industry, academia, and other sectors. 

Each doctoral project will identify a major theme and a dominant cross-link, binding it to other projects (see 'Themes' below). Some of our advertised projects will be multi-disciplinary and some interdisciplinary; but all will be different to the projects normally associated with the Research Council, challenging doctoral researchers and their supervisors alike.

The Forest Edge programme is partially funded by a £1,050,000 grant from the Leverhulme Trust. Each Scholarship covers maintenance costs (at Research Council levels), tuition fees, and research and training expenses for the doctoral student over three years. 

Scholarship value and duration

The award comprises:

  • Full payment of tuition fees at Research Councils UK fee level for year of entry (£4,327 in 2019/20), to be paid by the University;
  • An annual maintenance grant at current UK Research Councils rates (national minimum doctoral stipend for 2019/20 is £15,009), to be paid in monthly instalments to the Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholar by the University.
  • All studentships will come with a minimum of £3,000 Research Training Support Grant. This can be increased, if there are justified project costs, up to a maximum of £12,000. Supervisors should indicate from where any further costs necessary for the project will be sourced.  

Funding is available for UK or EU students only. A minimum of five fully funded PhD scholarships will be awarded for October 2020 entry. The tenure of the award can be for up to 3 years. 


The Forest Edge Doctoral Scholarship programme will coalesce around a single organising principle:

Forest Edge Doctoral Scholarship programme

Forest Edge Doctoral Scholarship programme

“To determine to what extent Forest existence, form, and function emerge from detailed interactions within and across scales, from molecules, to individual organisms, to communities and societies.”

Projects, setting out from strongly scientific, social science, or cultural perspectives, align with one of the following themes:

  1. Values and meanings – How (historically, currently, and in the future) do the ways we value forests influence their form, function, and, indeed, their existence?
  2. Change drivers and resilience – Which ‘tipping points’ and ‘great leaps forward’ emerge from the adaptation of forests to changing environments? Can we design interventions to enhance forest resilience?
  3. Communication cascades – How does communication at molecular, ecological, and social scales determine the functioning of forests? To what extent can we safely alter communication within and across scales to promote beneficial outcomes?

Cutting across these themes are two further, cross-linking, perspectives:

  1. Scales of space and time – How far must forests extend, and how long must they persist, to perform specific cultural, socio-economic, or ecological functions?  How can human and forest time and space scales be reconciled
  2. Complexity: how patterns emerge - Where and when do critical sites and situations appear in forests? How can models that embrace complexity enhance our understanding of ecosystem processes?

How to apply

Apply online through the University of Birmingham Postgraduate application system, the Postgraduate portal, by clicking 'Apply online' on the relevant project listed below.

Within the application, at the 'Programmes open for Admission' page, please select ‘PhD Forest Edge (Lever Trust).

Please detail the advertised supervisor and project title under the 'Research Information' section of the application form.

Please note, as a standard application process, you will be asked to submit a proposal as part of your application. Please complete " PhD Forest Edge: project title" for this section as you will be applying for an established project by the supervisor. 

You can use our advice and guidance pages as you complete your application. Applications should include a statement of research interests. We encourage you to contact prospective supervisors informally to discuss the project. Please also read our guidance notes before applying.

Successful applicants are expected to start their research project from October 2020.

Applications for 2020 entry will open on Thursday 12 December 2019.

Search our projects and apply