The academy of talent comprises 26 4-year PhD studentships based in the 17 HEI partners in the 2014 entry cohort, 24 students in the 2015 cohort, 31 students in the 2016 cohort, 26 students in the 2017 entry cohort and 20 students in the final 2018 entry cohort.  This gives a total of 127 PhD students across the UK partnership.

The PhDs themselves are aligned with the 4 main themes that NERC announced in their call. The partnership seeks to achieve a balance of submissions of, and recruitment to, PhD projects under each header from each institute where possible. The percentage split of recruited projects over the five annual cohorts is Unconventional Hydrocarbons (24%), Mature Basins (29%), Challenging Environments (32%), Environmental Impact & Regulation (15%). Some projects address two or more research themes.

The fourth cohort is unique in that they are the result of the Research Council extending its funding due to the CDT’s obvious successes in its early operations. The NERC CDT in Oil & Gas is the only such partnership to receive an extension to date. This cohort also benefits from the largest award of National Productivity Investment Fund studentships made by NERC from its government allocation to any of its CDTs.