15 PhD positions

Join a unique training programme at the interface between academic excellence and the world of international biodiversity conservation organisations!

Deadline for applications: 16 April 2018 (midnight, Brussels time)

Great reasons to apply


  • Inspire4Nature is a unique international training programme that brings together 3 research centres, 6 universities, and 4 international conservation organisations with a vast experience in the science and the practice of biodiversity conservation.
  • You will be part of a cohort of 15 PhD students, each one of you working on an individual research project at the interface between the science and the policy of international-scale biodiversity conservation.
  • Your PhD project will be a collaboration between an academic institution (a research centre or university, where you will be based) and one (or more) of four leading international biodiversity conservation organisations: IUCNBirdLife InternationalUN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre, and the Zoological Society of London.
  • You will be co-supervised by highly qualified scientists: at least one from your host academic institution and one from your partner conservation organisation.
  • You will get to know your partner conservation organisation(s) from the inside, by spending 6-10 months there in secondments.
  • In addition to your individual research project, you will benefit from an exciting network-wide training programme, including workshops, courses, and joint practical projects with the other PhD students. This will give you hands-on experience in major conservation tools (IUCN Red ListKey Biodiversity Areas) as well as a suite of transferable skills, including in communicating scientific results and conservation challenges to a broad audience.
  • A 3-year employment contract with full social security coverage.
    You will be hired as a researcher by the hosting academic organisation. This will be a fixed-term contract (3 years), working full time and in exclusivity for this project. You will have the same working rights as other employees at the organisation, including the right to holidays and social security coverage (e.g. sick leave, maternity leave). The specific details (e.g., number of working hours per week, number of working days per year) will follow the national law and thus vary from country to country.
  • A very attractive salary, including a mobility allowance and (if applicable) a family allowance.
    The salary is calculated in accordance with the MSCA regulations for Early Stage Researchers. It includes three components: 1) A living allowance of €3,110/month. This value is then corrected according to country, to adjust for differences in the costs of living (France – 111.0%; Italy – 106.7%; UK – 120.3%; DK – 135.3%; Portugal – 89.1%; Germany – 98.8%; Greece – 92.7%). 2) A mobility allowance of €600/month. 3) A family allowance of €500/month. This only applies if at the beginning of the contract you have a family. Family is defined as persons linked to you by (i) marriage, or (ii) a relationship with equivalent status to a marriage recognised by the legislation of the country or region where this relationship was formalised; or (iii) dependent children who are actually being maintained by you. ImportantThis is a gross value, corresponding to the total contribution the European Union gives towards your salary. The net salary you will receive will be lower because of tax deductions and mandatory contributions (e.g. to social security) both by yourself and by your employer.
  • Long secondment opportunities in partner conservation organisations.
    Each PhD project includes one or more secondments to partner conservation organisations (totalling 6 to 11 months per project). During these secondments, you will remain employed by your hosting academic organisation, being a visitor to the partner organisation where you will be seconded to. As each secondment is long (3-11 months each), you must be prepared to move to the country of your secondment*, as opposed to working remotely from the country where you are employed. This means you must find new accommodation, to avoid paying double rent during this period. Your travel costs will be covered by your employer, but you must pay for your accommodation from your salary.  (*Except for projects 3, 5, and 9, for which both the academic host and the secondment locations are in London, and there will thus be no need to move countries)

Want to join the Inspire4Nature team as a PhD student?



To do a PhD with the Inspire4Nature project, you must:

  • Have completed an academic degree that allows you to enrol as a PhD student, usually a Master’s degree. Most positions require you to have a Master’s degree or equivalent (the exceptions are Projects 3, 5 and 9, with University College London – see these projects’ descriptions for details). You must have completed the required academic degree by the time you start the PhD (early September 2018).
  • Be an early-stage researcher: within the first four years of your research career, no doctoral degree yet. You must, at the date when your work contract starts (i.e., early September 2018), be in the first four years of your research career, and not yet have obtained a doctoral degree. These four years are measured from the date you first obtained the degree that allows you to enrol as a PhD student (see above) and should be measured in full-time equivalent (meaning that part-time research experience is counted pro-rata).For example: suppose you apply for a position requiring a Master’s degree and that you have obtained your Master’s diploma on the 01/09/2013. If you have been working full time in research since this date, you will have 5 years research experience when the PhD project starts, and therefore you are not eligible. If you have been working part time in research, for example 50% throughout those 5 years, you are eligible as you only have 2.5 years of full-time equivalent research experience.
  • Meet the mobility rule: you cannot have resided in the country where you will be recruited more than 12 months within the previous 3 years. Positions are open to all nationalities (including refugee scientists), but you must not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country where you will be recruited (i.e., the country of your academic host, where you will enrol in the PhD programme) for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the PhD starts. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention are not taken into account. Also, this mobility rule is only in relation to the country of the academic host, not in relation to the country where you will do your secondment(s). For example: suppose you apply to a position based in Italy, with a 6 months secondment in the UK. You are not eligible if you have resided for more than 12 months in Italy between September 2015 and August 2018. If you have lived in the UK during these three years, that does not affect your eligibility.
  • Have a good proficiency in the English language, including in understanding, speaking and writing. See each position’s description for more details or the level required. Note that you may be asked to demonstrate it through oral and written exercises. For some positions, you may need to provide proof of proficiency (e.g., TOEFL/IELTS test results) in case you are selected, before you can enrol as a PhD student.

In addition to these general conditions, each position has more specific eligibility conditions. Make sure you meet the specific conditions for all the positions you are applying for.

  • Deadline for submitting applications: 16 April 2018 (midnight, Brussels time).
    Only applications that are complete, in English, that respect the application instructions (in this page, and in the project’s description), and that have been submitted before this deadline will be considered eligible.Note that in the specific case of positions with Sapienza University (Projects 1, 2, 4 and 13) you can only submit your application between the 17th of March and the 16th of April. For all other positions, applications are open from the 15th of February to the 16th of April.
  • Short-listing phase: until mid-May.
    We will first check for eligibility, and then shortlist eligible candidates based on their academic background, scientific merit, motivation, and fit to the position. We will let you know if you have been shortlisted for the interview by mid-May.
  • Interviews: late May-early June.
    Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an individual interview, either in person or remotely (e.g., by Skype). For some positions, the interview dates are already planned (as noted in the projects’ descriptions); if applying to these positions, make sure you save the respective dates.
  • Final decisions: by mid-June.
  • PhD starts: early September 2018.

We will do our best to respect this timeline, but may need to introduce changes for particular positions. For example, we may decide to keep a particular position open for a longer period, or to re-open it later if no suitable candidate is found. Any such changes will be announced in this page, so keep checking back regularly.


Each application will be anonymised during the short-listing phase to reduce biases associated with gender, nationality, ethnicity, age etc.You should prepare a complete application file for each position, including the following documents:

  • Application form
    Download the form from this link, complete it, sign it, and save it as yourname_form_projectX.pdf (e.g. JuliaSmith_form_project5.pdf).
    This form includes a request for the contact details of two referees: professionals who have worked closely with you, and who can comment on your capacity to pursue the PhD project(s) you are applying to. Do not ask referees for reference letters, we will contact them directly.
  • Curriculum Vitae  
    Your complete CV, up to three pages, saved as yourname_CV_projectX.pdf (e.g. PabloMartinez_CV_project4.pdf). Make it as anonymous as possible: do not include any photo or personal data (e.g. name, date of birth, civil status…) and minimise the information from where people can deduce your age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, civil status etc. For example, if you need to explain a career brake for parental reasons, say “parental leave” rather than “maternal/paternal leave”. If you list a publication you have authored, replace your name by “CANDIDATE” in the authors list. You do need to clarify how fluent you are in English and in the language of the country you are applying to, but leave out your native tongue if it makes your nationality obvious. We do realise that your CV can’t be perfectly anonymous: for example, you need to say which universities you attended, and places where you have worked, from where it is often (but not always) possible to infer your nationality. But make it as anonymous as feasible without erasing important information about your training and your experience.
  • Cover letter
    Explain why you are applying for this particular position, and what makes you a good candidate. Save it as yourname_letter_projectX.pdf (e.g. AissaHidoussi_letter_project12.pdf). Make your cover letter as anonymous as possible: do not include any personal data (e.g. name, date of birth, civil status…) and minimise the information from where people can deduce your age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, civil status etc. For example, if you need to explain a career brake for parental reasons, say “parental leave” rather than “maternal/paternal leave”. Do not say things like “I am a young mother” or “I am a mature student”. Do not sign the cover letter. We do realise that your cover letter may not be perfectly anonymous, but make it as anonymous as feasible without erasing important information about your training and your experience.
  • Academic diplomas and transcripts 
    A scan of your academics diplomas (undergraduate and Master’s) and of the respective transcript. For each type of degree, save the diploma and the transcript in a single document, and save it as yourname_diplomaname_projectX.pdf (e.g. XieWang_undergraduate_project15.pdf; XieWang_Master_project15.pdf). The diploma should indicate the date when you have been awarded the degree. An academic transcript is a list of the courses/programmes you have been enrolled on and the grades that you have received during your programme of study. Both the diploma and the transcript should be official documents from your institution.You need to have completed the degree by the time the PhD project starts (early September 2018). But if you have not yet completed by the time you submit the application (and thus do not yet have a diploma), please submit evidence that you are enrolled in the degree and that you are due to finish before September 2018. Also submit a transcript for the courses you have already completed, and a list of the courses you are currently enrolled in. If your degree diploma and transcript are not in English, you need to include a scan of the originals AND a translation into English. If your originals are in French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Danish or German, you can at this stage make the translations yourself. If they are in a different language, you need to send an official translation by a certified professional. If you are offered the position, you will likely need official translations before enrolling in the PhD programme.

Special cases:

  • If applying to a position with the University of Copenhagen (Projects 11 or 12): also include a short research proposal.
    Up to two pages long, describing what you intend to do during the PhD study. Save it as yourname_proposal_projectX.pdf (e.g. LucaManica_proposal_project11.pdf). Make your proposal letter as anonymous as possible with respect to gender, nationality, age etc.: do not include your name and minimise the information from where people can deduce your age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, civil status etc.
  • If applying to a positions with Sapienza Università di Roma (Projects 1, 2, 4 or 13): Applications can only be sent between the 17 March and the 16 April. Check this page after the 17th of March for details.

The application procedure depends on the positions you are applying to, as described below:

  • Applying to a position with the CNRS (Projects 6, 7, 14), with the University College London (Projects 3, 5, 9), with FVB-IGB (Project 8), with HCMR (Project 10), or with ISPA (Project 15)
  • Submit your application by email, to Inspire4Nature@cefe.cnrs.fr. Include all the above-listed documents as attachments and indicate the project number in the email subject. If applying to multiple positions, send a separate email for each application.
  • Applying to a position with the University of Copenhagen, UCPH (Projects 11, 12)
  • Follow THIS LINK to apply to Position 11.
    Follow THIS LINK to apply to Position 12.
  • Applying to a position with Sapienza Università di Roma (Projects 1, 2, 4, 13)
    Applications can only be sent between the 17 March and the 16 April. Check this page after the 17th of March for details.

Only applications that are complete, in English, that respect the instructions above, and that have been submitted before the deadline (16 April 2018) will be considered eligible.

If you have any questions regarding the application procedure, please check first if they are already answered in the sections above. If you cannot find the answer to your question, contact us.
Download a PDF document with these instructions from here: http://www.inspire4nature.eu/phdpositions/