Call for projects – 2022/23 entry


We are now seeking projects for the next cohort of NERC ACCE students commencing study in October 2022; the deadline for submission of project proposals is 24th September 2021. All projects submitted will be assessed and ranked based on the attached sift criteria. Projects with a non-academic partner are more likely to be advertised, especially if they have CASE partner support, and/or if they qualify as “Highlight Topic” projects (see details below). 

Highlight Topics

Annual “Highlight” projects are an initiative by ACCE to help to deepen engagement with partners from end-user organisations. We aim to fund around 3 Highlight projects across ACCE this year, but students applying for these projects are interviewed along with those for other projects. It is not essential for a Highlight project to have CASE support, but there must be a committed co-supervisor from an end-user organisation.  

The Highlight Topics for October 2022 entry projects are:

  • The role of microbes in a sustainable future
  • Urban ecosystem resilience to city living
  • Right tree, right place, right reason.

In this recruitment round we are helping supervisors and partners to co-design projects for mutual benefit, with three short workshops linked to an online collaboration platform. Anyone registering for the workshops will have access to useful collaboration materials, even if they cannot make all the live workshop times. An “Idea Template” will be available to fill in from after the workshop session and up until the application deadline, so at least one supervisor from each project idea intending to apply should register on the online workshop platform (KIStorm) for the minimum engagement to gain access to the template and application support. This will enable the group to progress with an application (registration link at https://kistorm.com/go/acce-2). 

For your project to qualify as a Highlight project, you must demonstrate that it was co-developed with a project partner, at minimum by completing an Idea Template for other workshop attendees to view. On the project proposal form (details below), we ask you to tick two boxes to confirm (i) at least one supervisor is from an end-user organisation and (ii) the end-user organisation has been involved in the process and you have completed an Idea Template.

You can register for this year’s Highlight workshops via the Eventbrite links available here: https://acce.shef.ac.uk/highlight-topics-for-2022-23-studentships/.

Submitting a proposal

You will need to use the following documents and forms (all available from your local ACCE institution):

1. The application form – this has been revised. Your proposal must be submitted via the online link at your ACCE institution.

2. A Word document that you can use as a collation aid – please do not submit the Word document. Note that the online form cannot be saved so we suggest completing details on the Word document and transferring to the online form when you are ready to submit


3. Guidance on sift criteria for projects


4. A list of potential CASE partners (you are not restricted to these organisations, but these partners have previously agreed to be part of ACCE).

Please submit your project via the online form by 5.00pm on Friday 24th September 2021.

Diversity in candidate selection

The ACCE2 DTP is committed to recruiting extraordinary future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. For the 2021 entry recruitment round, we improved our student recruitment processes to address barriers to diversity in science. These changes will be maintained into this recruitment round. In summary:


– Advertised will be accompanied by an equality, diversity and inclusion statement


– The student application process will be more guided to increase transparency and reduce the effects of mentor bias. We still encourage communication between supervisors and prospective students prior to them submitting their applications


– Selection criteria for applicants will be modified to reduce discrimination and reflect that excellence and dedication can come in many forms. 

Full information can be found in our guide to candidate selection and a Q&A session will be provided in September/October.


Timelines you need to be aware of

5.00pm, 24 September 2021: Academics to submit project proposals via the link above.
September/October 2021: NERC ACCE allocation committee meet to approve and sift projects for advertising.
October 2021:  Selected projects advertised, after screening for implicit bias, on the University webpages, ACCE website and at FindAPhD.com.

ACCE studentships have a Research Training Support Grant (RTSG), currently set at £8,200, to cover the costs of the project and any training beyond what is offered by the University and the DTP.  Note that all ACCE supervisors are expected to attend the ACCE annual general meeting, which takes place at the start of each academic year (this year the meeting will be held in early November in Sheffield).


The student application deadline will be early in January 2022, with supervisors given time following this date to review their applications and select their candidates. Further details will follow in due course.