Flexible Supplement Fund

The King’s College London MRC Flexible Supplement Fund is available to all students at King’s College London who are funded by the MRC. This scheme has been established using block funding by the MRC and can help fund a wide range of research and training activities.


All current MRC-funded students at King’s College London are eligible to apply for the Flexible Supplement Fund. These include:

  • Core MRC DTP students
  • MRC Unit, Institute, Centre of Partnership students
  • MRC Industrial CASE students
  • MRC Clinical Research Training Fellows

How to Apply

King’s College London MRC-funded students may apply by completing a MRC Flexible Supplement Application Form. Consult the FAQ’s below for the dates of when the Flexible Supplement rounds are open. We may ask for additional information after receiving an application and require all successful applicants to provide a brief report acknowledging MRC support.

Areas of Funding

  • Internships and Placements

    Application to be made prior to applying for an internship or placement; 3-month placement, suspension of studies in principle required.

  • High cost training

    Applications in areas of strategic need (in line with MRC strategic priorities), such as bioinformatics, interdisciplinary skills and imaging. These could include (but does not exclusively cover):
    – advanced in vivo training
    – imaging training
    – skills priority training
    – bioinformatics training
    – modelling training
    – clinical training

  • Exceptional training opportunities

    Such as:
    – overseas fieldwork
    – internships/placements
    – laboratory visits/training
    – training in new advanced research skills
    – industrial collaborations

  • In vivo strategic skills*

    To support research training in advanced integrative mammalian biology.

  • Industry Training

    Opportunities to provide training in partnership working with industry or at theinterdisciplinary interface, which could include (but does not exclusively cover):
    – internships/placements
    – collaborative training
    – travel/logistical support for cohort building activities in this area
    – attracting individuals from another discipline into MRC studentships

  • Outreach

    To enable participation in outreach activities, such as public engagement.

  • PhD to postdoctoral transition fund

    For outstanding candidates to increase competitiveness in
    applying to positions within and beyond academia, following thesis submission, which could include (but does not exclusively cover):

    – travel to potential laboratories for visits
    – internships/placements

* For an in vivo strategic skills award to be granted, verification of the appropriate Home Office project and personal licenses, and a detailed justification for the proposed study, including power calculations will be required.

*Please note that the Flexible Supplement cannot be used to :

1. Provide funding for more studentships – the funds may not be used to award additional studentships but must be used to better support existing students.
2. Extend existing studentships to delay submission of thesis (unless there has been a substantial training period or time out of programme).
3. Provide funding for standard experimental costs such as consumables or equipment.


When can I apply?

The Flexible Supplement will open two application rounds in 2023-2024:

The first will open on the 20 October 2023 and close on  1 December 2023. An academic panel will review all applications to this round from 6 December 2023.

The second will open on  4 March 2024 and close on 26 April 2024. An academic panel will review all applications to this round from 1 May 2024.

Who can benefit from a flexible supplement award?

This is a supplement targeted to the entire DTP and all MRC-funded students registered at the DTP University, which would include:

Core DTP students
• MRC industrial CASE students
• National Productivity Investment Fund studentships
• MRC Unit, Institute, Centre or Partnership students
• MRC Clinical Research Training Fellows

What makes a good applicaton to the Flexible Supplement Fund?

Students are encouraged to submit application which fully explain how a funding request will support their PhD.

The Flexible Supplement Review Panel have shared the following feedback:

  • An application is not assessed on the supervisor’s supporting statement and so students must provide a good statement to be funded. If the student justification is not satisfactory, the request will not be funded.
  • All request justification should be a minimum of 300 words and a maximum of 500 words.
  • The Flexible Supplement Fund will not will not fund equipment/ experiments for projects or other elements of the project which should clearly be covered by the student’s consumables budget.
  • The members of the Flexible Supplement Panel are non-experts, therefore applicants need to clearly detail what their PhD project is about and how the request will benefit/advance their training and PhD. Applicants are advised to detail how the request is relevant to their PhD.
  • The maximum number of training courses a student can apply to is two. Applicants applying for more than two training courses within one application need to provide a timeline of their PhD over the next 12 months and to evidence why it is imperative to complete additional training courses in line with the 12-month timeline.

Our Flexible Supplement Review Panel have provided more useful Flexible Supplement Feedback on how to submit a good application. We recommend reading this information before starting an application.

Am I eligible to apply for funding from the King’s College London Flexible Supplement Fund?

To be eligible you must be currently funded by the MRC for studies leading to a PhD.  All MRC-funded students registered at King’s College London may apply to the scheme. Please contact the MRC DTP Team if you require further advice.

How many times can I apply to the fund?

If you meet the eligibility criteria, there is no limit on the number of applications you can make to the fund, although applicants are reminded that they can apply for a maximum of £5,000 over the course of their PhD. Applications in more than one category can also be made simultaneously in one application form.

What is the maximum funding I can apply for?

For the purposes of the Internship or Placement or the PhD to Post-Doc category, this scheme is intended to provide stipend support at your current rate of no more than 3 months in duration. For all other categories, the maximum level is £5,000, and awards up to 100% of this sum can be made. Applicants are reminded that they can apply for a maximum of £5,000 over the course of their PhD.

How will a decision be made?

Each application will be considered by an academic panel. The panel will consider how an application aligns with the funding categories and how the opportunity will benefit to your PhD.

Please be reminded that the Flexible Supplement Panel are non-experts, applicants are strongly advised to summarise their PhD project as part of their application and to clearly explain how the funding request relates to the applicant’s training and research project.

For an Internship or Placement Application, how do I apply for an interruption of studies?

This scheme is intended to provide stipend support at your current rate, for the purposes of Internships and Placements, of no more than 3 months in duration. Ideally this is best suited for students who are within writing-up status but prior to submission. Students who want to take an Internship or Placement within the first 36 months of their PhD studies, are advised to speak with their suprvisors prior to making an application. This fund will make awards on the assumption that the faculty supports this request and will extend/approve interruption of studies.

Can the funds be used to support students taking online learning courses?

Support can be provided for training in new research skills and at the interdisciplinary boundary. Online learning may be an effective way for students to gain skills in maths and computing techniques that are relevant to model and analyse  biological systems.

Can the funds be used to support attendance at conferences?

Attendance of conferences within the student’s scientific field would not normally be considered an exceptional training opportunity and we would therefore not expect the DTP flexible funds to be used in this way. MRC studentship funding already includes some support for conference attendance (see our website for the current minimum stipend and allowance every student should be provided).

In certain circumstances, attendance at an interdisciplinary conference, removed from a student’s area of research, may be appropriate (as it may address training at the interdisciplinary interface). However, the DTP holder will need to balance impact of conference attendance against other opportunities (such as an internship/placement) when prioritising which requests to support.

Can the funds be used to support overseas visits/internships/training courses?

Financial support for overseas trips would be considered an appropriate use of flexible supplement funds if this contributed to the development of the student, whether that be training/skills-related or creating data with novel techniques/equipment not available in the host centre or contributing to sample collection.

What can be supported under the PhD to postdoc transition category?

The flexible supplement should not be used to extend existing studentships to complete their thesis or bridge the time period between PhD and their next position. Awards under this heading should increase the competitiveness of outstanding candidates for the next stage of their career, whether that be an academic or non-academic postdoctoral position. This might include learning a new technique, becoming skilled on novel equipment, developing a new avenue of research beyond their PhD project, attending overseas laboratory visits or an internship/placement between thesis submission and viva. Time and funds associated primarily with preparing publications would not normally be considered appropriate for use of flexible supplement funds. Stipend requests can be included in this category.

We would normally expect transition funding to support students in the period between thesis submission and viva. The panel could potentially allow flexibility where for example the student is visiting a lab, and this was only possible with specific timing. Due to the timeline of the application process, we expect applications in this category to be submitted in the student’s final year and ideally before thesis submission. Any applications received after the viva would not be eligible.

Can the funds be used to extend a PhD due to extensive training or internship/placements?

A studentship can be extended if extensive training of the PhD and/or an internship/placement not related to the PhD has occurred. Extensive training may be required at the start of a studentship (for example, background skills/knowledge required due to an interdisciplinary background) which would merit extension of the studentship. Internships/placements which would merit extension of the studentship would be expended when these are not directly related to the PhD. For internships/placements aimed at providing transitional support, these should occur post-thesis submission and therefore the studentship would not be required to extend.

Can the funds be used to support consumables associated to an ‘advanced in vivo training’ request?

Under ‘high cost training’ falls the ‘advanced in vivo training’ category. Consumables can be funded as long as there is an advanced skills training element to the application. The request should be above and beyond the project and/or bringing something new to the project. No consumables will be funded unless the application meets these criteria.

Can I apply for the Flexible Supplement Fund retrospectively?

Yes you can. However, there is no guarantee that the panel will approve the application. In the first instance we advise that you talk to your supervisors about whether you should pay with your bench fee initially.

Can I apply to the fund to cover license costs?

No. License fees/costs should be paid using RTSG (bench fees). The Flexible Supplement Fund should be used to support  training opportunities.

Impact Statements

The Flexible Supplement can be utilised in a variety of ways. We have collected and categorised impact statements from a sample of our awardees, demonstrating the variety in which these awards can take form. You can access these impact statements here.

Contact Us

If you have any questions regarding this fund or your application please direct all enquiries to mrc-dtp@kcl.ac.uk.