Doing a PhD at Kew

More than 80 students are currently co-supervised by Kew academics as they pursue their doctoral research.

Student sat in a green meadow holding a small bag for the plants they are collecting

Our PhD students are the next generation of experts and you could join them.

We work in collaboration with universities in the UK and across the world to give PhD students access to our world-class collections, facilities and expertise at Kew Gardens and Wakehurst.

At any one time, around 80 students are actively engaged in doctoral research at Kew, co-supervised by our internationally-renowned experts and university academics. 

All our students are affiliated to a university as well as to Kew. Kew academics form collaborative supervisory teams with university colleagues, jointly supporting and mentoring students as they progress with their research.

Ultimately, it is the university that will confer the PhD but for many students, Kew is where they conduct the majority of their research and a key part of their PhD experience.

Research at Kew

Our researchers engage with a huge range of topics across and between disciplines, aligned to our five strategic priorities, as set out in our Science Strategy

  • Ecosystem Stewardship
  • Trait Diversity and Function
  • Digital Revolution
  • Accelerated Taxonomy
  • Enhanced Partnerships

Enhanced Partnerships has explicit interests in ethnobotany, plant humanities and all interdisciplinary research. 

Shaggy parasol (Chlorophyllum rhacodes). Mushroom on woodland floor with a shaggy cap.
Shaggy parasol (Chlorophyllum rhacodes) © RBG Kew

PhD funding

Kew does not ordinarily fund PhD research directly.

We work with a variety of funders including UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) research councils such as Natural Research Environment Research Council (NERC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) who support students primarily through Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) and Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships and Awards (CDPs/CDAs). 

Some students secure their own funding directly through universities, overseas government schemes and/or special interest organisations, or fund themselves using private means. 

Doctoral Training Partnerships and Kew

Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs or CDP/CDA) bring together a group of universities and partner organisations with funding for a series of studentships.

These studentships include stipends for students and cover university fees. Beyond this, they support and develop ambitious, dynamic cohorts of outstanding researchers, and offer a range of technical, professional and research training and personal development opportunities across and between disciplines.

How Kew fits in is dependent on the project, supervisors and the way in which the DTP funding the project is organised. Some DTP students are selected to conduct a project that has already been defined, while others are recruited first and then scope and develop their own research agenda.

In the first case, Kew scientists might co-design projects that students can view on the website for that DTP and apply for directly. In the second case, they might collaborate with university academics and students as they in the development stage – or students might approach them as potential supervisors once they have a clearer idea of what their project will entail.

View our DTP places and collaborations

Available DTP places and projects

We advertise available DTP studentships at Kew on our website. You may also find it helpful to follow individual DTP websites and social media accounts for relevant updates. 

Recruitment for DTPs usually starts in the autumn a year before the intended start date, with interviews and selection taking place in the spring.

Developing your own research idea

If you have the relevant qualifications and/or experience, and a research idea that aligns with our Science Strategy, we may be able to help you develop it into a project.

If you have sourced funding or have identified an opportunity to do so, let us know by contacting our scientists directly, or Kew’s Doctoral Partnerships Manager Lisa Taylor (l.taylor3@kew.org) for an informal conversation.

  • Researcher holding 96 well plate on ice

    Meet our PhD students

    Find out more about who our PhD students are, and what they are working on.

  • Empty conical flasks on a shelf in the Jodrell laboratory

    Doctoral Training Partnerships

    DTPs provide excellent research, professional, technical and personal development training in a multi-disciplinary environment.