FAQ for applicants

This FAQ includes questions being asked of supervisors, and many raised at the Climate KIC hosted dissemination event on 25 January 2024 in break outs with Prof Marzia Mortati and Prof Lucy Kimbell. We are grateful to everyone for their patience as we clarify these aspects of the recruitment to the CoDesign4Transitions Doctoral Network.


About the doctoral positions

Do I need to pay a tuition fee?
No. These costs are covered by the Network partners.
Are the PhDs thesis-based?
It depends on the specific university and their department policies for doctorates. Look at the university webpages (the PhD Schools in particular) for details of what is expected for their PhD and/or ask one of the supervisors (ideally the Lead Supervisor), for the university you are interested in applying to.
Can we apply to multiple projects at once or how does it work if our research falls into many different possible topics?
You can apply for a maximum of 3 positions. There is a single deadline and single portal to apply. It’s up to you to craft your response to the positions as advertised.
Is it possible to apply for just one position or is it mandatory to choose 3?
You can apply for 1 or 2 or 3 positions. There is no obligation to apply to more than one.

Employment conditions

What is the salary for the position I am interested in?
The descriptions of the doctoral positions on the Network website show annual funding available to the university for each position. Please note: these figures are not the gross annual salary for the candidate.
Each figure refers to the total amount of funding available to the university that will hire the doctoral candidate, taking into account the living and mobility allowance funding from the EU MSCA as well as national laws. Applicants should be aware that their annual gross salary may well be significantly less than this amount, once the university has covered costs they incur such as pension and national insurance, subject to national laws. The annual gross salary the candidate receives will also be subject to tax, employment and pension deductions, depending on national employment laws.
How much do you have to be physically present at the given institution, outside of secondment periods?
These are full-time employed roles AND you would be following the doctoral course of the university where you are based. The Network partners envisage that you would be based there full-time, to make the most of opportunities and to build relationships, except for the 2 secondments.
What do you do if you have a baby during the 3-year period?
You will have the same employment rights as other employees of the university. Look at the HR/staff pages of the university for the position you are interested in to find out more about parental leave and benefits.
How family friendly is it to do a PhD (work times etc.)?
These are full-time roles. You will have the same employment rights as other employees of the university. Look at the HR/staff pages of the university for the position you are interested in to find out more about support for parents.
Would I have to stop teaching in other universities during the PhD? What if you are running your own company?
These are full-time roles. The funder specifies that you should not have other employment (eg teaching) during the 36 months of the position. Other sources of income are not compatible with MSCA funded positions.
What are the details for vacation, pension and maternity leave?
You will have the same employment rights as other employees of the university. Look at the HR/staff pages of the university for the position you are interested in to find out more about holiday leave, pensions and other benefits.
How can I find out more about practical aspects of the doctoral positions?
As a future researcher you can find advice about visas, pensions, taxation, recognition of qualifications and other issues related to working as a researcher abroad. Detailed country-by-country contact information is available through the EU national portals – details here.

Doing the research

How much freedom is there to connect/co-design your research with the other candidates?
During the 36 months of training, all 13 candidates take part and have opportunities to connect, share approaches and results, and learn together across the Network.
Some of the secondments will have 2 or more candidates working with the same secondment host at the same time. This will allow some cross-fertilisation of ideas to benefit the candidates and the host.
If you want to collaborate directly with other candidates that may well be possible, to be agreed with your supervisors and secondment hosts.
Are the secondment hosts active parts in the co-production of the research subjects/cases?
Yes. The secondment hosts helped create and define the details of each doctoral candidate project. They are motivated to support the research and make it useful to their own work and stakeholders.

After the PhD

What kind of opportunities can we have after this kind of PhD?
Because we include several relevant partners in the network, working on different aspects of design, innovation and transitions, you will have opportunities to better understand the employment possibilities through the training they help deliver and secondments they host. See the list of organisations on the website.
It may be that some people who have successfully completed their employment through the Network might be employed by some of the secondment partners after completion, depending on opportunities available at the time.



I have an academic background, but I do not have many publications or research as I am mostly part-time teacher.
You are not required to have academic publications or research but if you do, for example achieved through your Masters, please do mention this on your CV and in your cover letter.
Is design and innovation work experience in agencies (not academic) a good measurement for personal and professional experience? I have experience working with SMES and other organizations, is this experience valid as a candidate?
Having expertise in design and innovation, for example in agencies, business, SMEs, government or think tanks, is relevant. Please do mention this on your CV and in your cover letter.
What If my previous work has not been in the same field yet I would like to transition into with this PhD?
This will be a very competitive scheme attracting many candidates with relevant experience in the areas listed on the website, who do meet the criteria. If you intend to apply you will have to demonstrate how you meet the criteria.

Mobility rule

What does the mobility rule mean?
The eligibility rule is set by the EU MCSA programme funding the Doctoral Network.
See the guidance we created on the Network website here.
Can I apply for a position where the secondment is taking place in the country where I am currently a resident?
The eligibility rule is about applying to the university hosting the doctoral position, and whether you have lived in that country (i.e, not about where the secondments are).

Having a Masters

Do I have to have finished my Master’s degree?
If you are expecting to finish your Master’s studies by 1 September 2024, the target start date for the employment, this will be acceptable.
Do I have to have a Master’s degree?
The Doctoral Network partners have agreed that this is one of the necessary criteria. See the published criteria here https://codesign4transitions.eu/recruitment/criteria/
We note that some partners do accept people for doctoral study without completing a Master’s if they can demonstrate an equivalent level of professional practice. But since this is an ambitious doctoral programme, it is highly unlikely you will be equipped to complete it successfully unless you have finished a Master’s.
Is it enough, to showcase a Master's degree where the same rule is in place for English language proficiency - which you have obviously fulfilled if being accepted for a degree there?
This depends on the rules for the university hosting the doctoral position, which you are applying for. Check their rules on the website of their PhD School and ask the supervisors (names and contact details on the Network website).
Is there a minimum amount of credits required (can you get accepted with just a one year master)?
There is no minimum, however always check on the website of the PhD Schoolfor the university hosting the positionyou are applying to.
I have done a few master degrees (Human Centered Design, UX research...), so what I got are private design school diplomas.
That should be ok but do check with the rules for the university hosting the doctoral position, which you are applying for. Check their rules on their website and ask the supervisors (names and contact details on the Network website).

Language proficiency

Language Proficiency tests are quite expensive. Is there any other way of language validation system that we can get free to apply for the positions?  If selected, we can get IELTS, TOFEL etc.
Do check with the rules for the university hosting the doctoral position, which you are applying for. You can find their requirements on their website about what specific criteria they have and if necessary ask the supervisors (names and contact details on the Network website).
For the application you will make to the Network’s portal, we ask that you upload evidence (of any type likely to be accepted by the university/ies you are applying to) of English language proficiency at the C1 level. Several partners in the network accept that the official certification is acquired after successful recruitment i.e, required at the point they offer someone the position.


Cover letter

Cover letter: Does the given 500 word limit apply both to cover letter and reflective text, or solely to reflective text? In the latter case, are there any restrictions that apply to the cover letter in terms of length or form?
Maximum 500 words for the whole letter. That is a maximum – we welcome shorter letters!
I am interested in several topics and whether I need to write different research proposals when I apply for positions at different uni?
If you are applying for more than one position (maximum 3), then your letter should cover your responses to the published information about the three different studies. The total is still the same – 500 words for the whole letter.


What format is acceptable for the portfolio?
PDF with 5 pages
Can I link my portfolio website?
We ask for no links to external websites.
What specifically are you looking for in the portfolio? Are non design related projects also relevant?
We welcome you demonstrating projects that add detail to how you meet the published criteria and can help the selection panel assess if you are the right fit for the opportunity. As the project descriptions indicate, some of them use ‘practice research’ as a methodology. So the portfolio is a chance to demonstrate your skills and experience that might be related. This can be in any area such as design, sustainable transitions, community, government, public services, policyor business (or other), relevant to the doctoral position you are applying for.
Should you NOT attach a portfolio if it is not REQUIRED, or is it simply optional at that point?
Only include the portfolio for the doctoral positions that require it. These are listed in the application portal.
How many projects to support the portfolio? and is there a format for it? (5 pages, so a page for each of the project?)
We suggest up to one project per page, x 5 pages. But if you want to provide less that is welcome.

Reference letters

Letters of reference: Is it acceptable to include design practitioners as referees, instead of "university lecturers or scientists who are familiar with your academic work" as suggested?
Yes, you can provide a reference letter from anyone who knows you and can discuss your potential.


How do we prepare for the interviews if we apply for 3 positions?
If you are invited for 3 interviews (or 2, or 1) - congratulations!
Please prepare for each based on the published information available. Since the doctoral projects are all slightly different, you will therefore have to prepare slightly differently for each interview.
Each university may have specific requirements for interviews, but all partners in the Network have agreed to a common protocol/format for interviews.