Applications for our 2024 entry are now closed. We are looking forward to welcome the inaugural cohort of Intelligent Earth students in October!

Our applications webpage for the 2025 entry will open in September, with an application deadline in early January 2025.

Open Day 

The Intelligent Earth Virtual Open Day was held on Thursday 30th November 2023.

Here are links to presentations made:

Recording of the open day, including a FAQ session and student hosted FAQ:


UKRI has provided funding for 15 full studentships in 2024.  With co-funding we are able to offer up to 20 fully funded places per year.  By applying to the CDT you are automatically considered for a funded place.   

EU students are now classified as overseas for fees purposes.  We are able to offer fully-funded studentships to around 5 overseas students in 2024 who will be classified as home students for fees purposes. A studentship package includes the following components:

  • Course fee (co-funded by UKRI & the University)
  • Tax free living allowance (UKRI)
  • Research and Training support grant (UKRI)


The application deadline for the September 2024 entry is Friday 5 January 2024 at 12:00 midday UK time.


Will take place during 26-29 February 2024.  Candidates who are invited for interview will be contacted a week before. We will contact all candidates as soon as we can with the outcome of their application.


We are committed to improve access to candidates from groups that are under-represented at Oxford. Our virtual open day will include a Q&A with current students so that potential applicants can ask any questions about the programme and the application process they may have. 


It is not necessary for you to identify a potential supervisor in your application.

Students will be matched with supervisors and partners throughout the first year of training. Nonetheless, you are encouraged to make contact with potential supervisors throughout the application process. This may lead to the development of a project idea, but there is no commitment on either side. 

Each student project will be advised by both an environmental science academic and an AI academic, plus a non-academic partner advisor. 

We will aim to match successful candidates with their preferred supervisors; however, this cannot be guaranteed. 


The colleges listed under Colleges have entered into active partnership with our CDT, which means they actively support the programme with offers of joint funding and/or use of space and facilities for teaching and events, or graduate accommodation for our students. 

Further information on the application process:

How to apply:

  • Submit your application through the secure online graduate application form.
  • The Programme Code (or course code ) is "R30_1". You will need this for the online application form. This is not the same as the studentship code.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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No, you do not need to have a clear project idea and you do not need to submit a proposed research project in your application. You do need to give an indication, however, that your research would be within the scope of this programme as part of your statement of purpose.

If your area of interest falls under multiple CDT themes then please do state this on your application. Identify the streams that you are interested in in the relevant place on the application. 

The themes are a way of grouping and thinking about different backgrounds and approaches. They overlap and there are not hard boundaries between them. As such, do not worry if you are not sure which theme you should apply to. In the application, you can select as many of the themes as you would like (you must select at least one). It would be helpful to indicate your core interest, however. 

The Intelligent Earth CDT will provide a wide range of training modules to choose from. However, the CDT training will be tailored individually, with the possibility to augment your training experience by taking or auditing existing modules from other programmes or departments. 

No, we do not offer a standalone Masters degree as part of this programme.  

It is not required to contact potential supervisors before applying. You can do this, however. Many applicants find it interesting and useful to have a chat about potential ideas with supervisors before they apply. If you do not find any supervisor in an area you really want to work in, then it is probably unlikely that this programme is the best fit for you.  

If you want to apply for additional courses, this is distinct from applying to us and you will need to apply separately to the different courses. It might be that it is possible to have the same supervisor for different courses.  

You will have to pay the fee for one course and then you can request exemption for the other linked programmes. For more information, please visit this webpage

No, the interviews for the Intelligent Earth CDT will be conducted virtually. 

No, there is no age-limit for applying. Age is not something that will be taken into account when admitting students to this programme. We encourage people of all ages and career stages to apply. 

We are striving to make this programme inclusive and accessible to everybody, including those with caring responsibilities, so would strongly encourage you to apply. We will work with you to ensure that you can balance your studies and your caring responsibilities. There will be mandatory in-person sessions but, where possible, these will be during core hours so you are able to e.g. pick your child(ren) up from school etc.  

The Intelligent Earth CDT will train you to make a real impact in a wide range of career paths, both in academia, industry and beyond. What you decide to do is up to you! As this is a new programme, we do not have records of graduate destinations. We anticipate that graduates of this programme will be highly sought after by employers. 

There are no strict, hard boundaries between the two and there is some overlap between them. All projects within the Intelligent Earth CDT will have an AI / machine learning focus. Students in the CDT will have strong quantitative training in AI that is not offered as part of the Environmental Research DTP. While some training will be shared, the intensity of the CDT training programme means that it will not be possible for a DTP student to attend all of the training that the CDT offers.  

Students have reflected that they chose to apply to a CDT programme for a number of reasons. They liked the fact that they did not have to have a project before they started and could therefore develop their project ideas over time in collaboration with their supervisors. Students often have the opportunity to complete a mini project with their potential supervisors to experience working together before starting their main project. They also found the training at the start of the programme appealing. Overall, students find this really valuable and a great preparation for their PhD. The cohort and sense of community that being on a CDT provides is also a popular motivation for applying to this type of programme.

We are interested in students who hold or are predicted to achieve the necessary qualification in the following subject areas or disciplines:

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • computer science
  • engineering
  • earth sciences
  • environment sciences
  • geography
  • geology
  • geophysics
  • mathematics
  • meteorology
  • oceanography
  • physics
  • statistics; or
  • other related disciplines such as data science, mathematical, physical and environmental science.

Please see the Intelligent Earth course page for further information about entry requirements.

This will vary depending on which stage of the programme you are at. For example, in year one, you will take a number of core and training courses so are likely to spend quite a lot of time in the department. There are also course free periods during this first year, however, so during those times you will probably be spending less time in the department.

For more information about the course structure, please see the Intelligent Earth course page.

For this programme, prospective students do not apply to a pre-defined project. Instead, during their first year of training, they are matched with supervisors and partners, and develop their project proposal with this personal supervisory team. As a result, there is some scope for students to change their research area from that which was outlined in their application to the programme.

Students say that they experience a highly supportive and collaborative research environment rather than a competitive one. There is a good sense of community. Students on the programme help each other out with practical matters and share advice, for example relating to transfer of status. There will also be opportunities to work together, for example on a research paper or project with other people in your lab.

It is not mandatory that you do any teaching, but it is likely that there will be opportunities to do so e.g. demonstrating on courses. This is a good way to earn some extra money and gain valuable experience. You will also be able to partake in ‘Preparation for Learning and Teaching at Oxford (PTLO)’, which is a short introductory course to teaching at the University.

In general, students on this programme will be required, following the University’s requirements, to reside within 25 miles of Carfax Tower, unless given special permission to work away from Oxford for a period of time (this is typically agreed and approved by the department). For more information on this, please see the University webpage about residency requirements for postgraduate research students.

Students often live in their College during their first year and, depending on the College, there may be opportunities to continue ‘living in’ in subsequent years. Oxford is generally quite an expensive city to live in. There is a large amount of housing available in the city each year for students.

Most PhD students treat their programme like a full-time job. Unless they have deadlines (e.g. preparing a conference paper), they will not work weekends. There is usually some flexibility in how you choose to manage your time. PhD students at the University of Oxford have a holiday entitlement. There will be some weeks when it is not possible to take a holiday, however, for example, when taking core courses during term time. Exceptional circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

We are striving to make this programme inclusive and accessible to everybody, including those with caring responsibilities. We will work with you to ensure that you can balance your studies and your caring responsibilities. There will be mandatory in-person sessions but, where possible, these will be during core hours so you are able to e.g. pick your child(ren) up from school etc.  

Further information about working hours and holiday entitlement will be given when starting the programme.

Yes! It is encouraged that you continue with your hobbies or start new ones as it is not healthy or productive to spend all of your time working on your PhD.

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

One professional reference can be accepted if you have relevant work experience, but academic references are preferred.

Your references will support proven and potential academic excellence in terms of intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, communication skills and ability to work in a group.

We are requesting that referees anonymise their references with respect to name, ethnicity and gender as one of the actions we are taking as part of a pilot aimed at minimising conscious and unconscious bias in the admissions procedure for graduate students. Please ensure any referees you approach are aware of this requirement.