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The TRANSFORM application process

Thank you for your interest in applying to the TRANSFORM doctoral programme. The 2021 application process closed at 4pm on 7th March 2021.

Please ensure you have read all of the application guidance prior to making an application. Guidance can be found at

Step 1 Supervisors and projects

The first step is to develop a PhD project proposal in line with the objectives of the TRANSFORM programme and with the interests of supervisors in the programme. A full list of TRANSFORM supervisors can be found under each theme

To develop your project proposal, you can select one of the suggested research topics in our page or develop a proposal in a self-proposed topic. The suggested topics are broad in scope with the intention that the applicant will develop the direction of research. In any case, TRANSFORM PhD projects are expected to have the following key characteristics: (a) a transformative focus on human-environment interactions; (b) collaboration between supervisors from different areas of expertise (ideally connecting environmental and socio-economic aspects of sustainability); and (c) mentorship by a relevant practitioner organisation.

Applicants are encouraged to contact the potential supervisors before making their application, particularly if their project proposal is on a self-proposed topic. Candidates wishing to submit their own project rather than selecting from one of the predefined topics are required to approach potential supervisors to discuss their project prior to putting in an official application. All successful candidates will work with an external organisation which will provide mentorship. Mentorship arrangements are defined for our list of suggested topics, whereas for proposals on self-proposed topics a mentor may be agreed later between the supervisory team and student.

Research proposals based on the list of suggested topics should have a maximum length of 1,500 words and should include the following aspects:

  • details on how the student would like to develop the project topic, including relevant concepts and literature;
  • details on the proposed materials, field work and/or case studies to be used;
  • any ethical considerations and procedures to be employed, if applicable;
  • proposed methods;
  • expected research outcomes and how they can have an impact on the sector of the mentor external organisation;
  • and a list of references.

Research proposals in self-proposed topics are allowed a maximum length of 2,000 words and should include, in addition to the items listed above: the rationale and context for the project topic and how it fits to the TRANSFORM programme, clearly indicating one of the research theme clusters to which the project topic is aligned.

Research proposals will be assessed in accordance with the Leverhulme Trust's overarching approach and ethos, which includes the criteria of originality, importance, significance and merit, which should be clearly incorporated into applications.

Please note that references do not need to be included in the word count.

Step 2 Contents of application

Your application should consist of:

  1. A completed Application Form.
  2. A two-page CV.
  3. A short research proposal (see instructions above).

Step 3 PhD application (Stage 1)

All candidates must submit a full application for a place on the university’s PhD in Global Sustainable Development prior to applying for a TRANSFORM scholarship. This must include references, a research proposal and a CV. More information about the application process can be found at

Step 4 Scholarship application – deadline 7th March 2021 (Stage 2)

Applicants who have not applied for the PhD programme as outlined above will not be considered for Leverhulme TRANSFORM funding. All candidates must submit a separate application for the Leverhulme Trust TRANSFORM scholarship funding. This application should be submitted on-line at by 4pm on 7th March 2021.

Step 5 Shortlisting

A selection panel including TRANSFORM academic supervisors and mentors will review applications and create shortlist of applicants to be invited to interview.

Step 6 Interviews

The selection panel will invite shortlisted applicants to an interview in early May.

Step 7 Awards

Notification of awards, reserves and unsuccessful applications will be issued by email by 31st May. Offer holders will have two weeks from notification of award to accept the award.

Step 8 Start your PhD journey at Warwick

Selected candidates will commence their PhD in October 2021.


If you have any queries about the process for making an application, please email transformPHD at warwick dot ac dot uk.